Last night I attended a fund raiser for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth's work to end mountaintop removal mining (MTR). The evening was an inspiring one, full of writers and musicians who care for the earth and want to put an end to this destructive practice.
In Kentucky we are privileged to claim Wendell Berry as one of our own, and he often participates in environmental events around the state. The audience stood rapt last night when Berry told of first seeing strip mining in the 1960s, and spoke of what our current treatment of the earth would mean. He closed by saying that if we continue to put nature last, nature will one day be sure to put humans last. This was a profound statement, and it rings true. We were not put on this earth to use it to our best advantage alone. We are here to tend the earth in a replenishing nature.
Mountaintop removal could not be further from tending the garden. Though this is often a hidden issue, MTR is not just an Appalachian problem. Many of us are tied to mountaintop removal - approximately half of electric power in the U.S. comes from coal fired power plants (see if your power comes from MTR at iLoveMountains). Mountaintop removal mining is cheaper for coal companies than underground mining, and it is playing a large role in providing our country's "cheap" energy. Rebecca Howell, a contributor to a new book on mountaintop removal Plundering Appalachia, spoke last night of the hidden costs of this "cheap" energy. The costs are taking their toll on the citizens and communities of Appalachia. With toxic water, coal dust, and newly barren landscapes, the people of Appalachia are paying the price for our cheap electricity.
Today in Charleston, West Virginia there will be a rally to end mountaintop removal mining on Coal River Mountain, which research has shown would be an ideal site for wind power. Read more about the issue and send a letter to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson asking her to halt MTR on Coal River Mountain.
What will our role be in protecting God's mountains?