Kentucky authors' statement on mountaintop removal

Who Wrote and
Signed This Statement

Mary Ann Taylor-Hall
George Brosi
Anne Shelby
Kristin Johannsen
Ann Olson
Gwyn Hyman Rubio
Loyal Jones
Erik Reece
Bracelen Flood
Ed McClanahan
Silas House
Bob Sloan
Artie Ann Bates
Lucy Flood
Dexter Collett

After a Kentucky authors tour in October 2006, the following writers endorsed this statement while also issuing a statement of their own.

Dwight Billings
James Baker Hall
Charlie Hughes
Janisse Ray
Jim Webb
Tom Barnes
Ron Eller
John Hennen
Fenton Johnson
J. Stephen Rhodes
Gray Zeitz
Wendell Berry
Jonathan Greene
Chris Holbrook
Lynn Pruett
Jordan Fisher Smith
Edmund August

KENTUCKY AUTHORS MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL TOUR
Statement by Authors
April 21, 2005

Yesterday we witnessed appalling destruction to the land. The practice of mountaintop removal to extract coal is ravaging Eastern Kentucky, and its effects are headed your way. Mountaintop removal represents economic and cultural violence which  eventually reaches the whole state.  What we have seen has convinced us that mountaintop removal is a blight on the entire state that is robbing our people of a better future by destroying our most abundant resources and the very ones we will need for building a viable future economy. Streams and groundwater, scenic beauty, diverse forests, and native plants, are all being ruined forever by mountaintop removal.

Authors writing statement April 2005During our two-day tour of mountaintop removal sites in Eastern Kentucky, we saw buried and polluted streams, great hickories and oaks tossed into useless piles, life-giving mountains turned into barren moonscapes, wasted topsoil,  and sunken homes, the lowering of a people’s quality of life, the increased severity and frequency of flooding, the lost jobs and lost hopes of an entire place. These are not isolated or occasional incidents. Instead, they are an assault on the people, culture, and land of Appalachia.

We have met these people and heard their testimony. We learned of a one-mile section of road where four mothers grieve for their dead children, victims of speeding, overloaded coal trucks. Erica Urias spoke eloquently of bathing her baby in poisoned water. Clinton Handshoe, surrounded by strip mining’s noise and air pollution, referred to himself as “a prisoner in his own home.”

We realize that coal is an important part of our economy.  However, coal can be mined in a more responsible way that respects the spirit of the land and its people. Out of greed, we have forsaken moral, aesthetic, and spiritual values. We have traded the futures of our children and grandchildren for cheap coal. The impact of these practices is sweeping across the entire state faster and faster, through the spread of air and especially water pollution. 

We are horrified that this practice is legal. We are angry that representatives in our own government are allowing this to happen. Mountaintop removal is not right; it is not acceptable, and it is an act we will fight. We call for the abolition of mountaintop removal and urge our fellow citizens to pressure elected officials in every way to stop this criminal desecration of our common wealth.