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Monday, January 24, 2011

W.Va. mining activists criticize Tomblin's rally

January 19, 2011
W.Va. mining activists criticize Tomblin's rally





MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - Mountaintop removal mining activists said Wednesday that acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is behaving like a lobbyist for organizing a rally in which he and other
politicians plan to criticize the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Tomblin has invited the public to join him, other politicians and industry officials for a rally that he said is designed to show the agency how coal is beneficial to the lives of West Virginians and others across the country.
It's set for 2 p.m. Thursday at the state Capitol in Charleston.
The rally is in response to the EPA's veto last week of a crucial permit for Arch Coal Inc.'s planned Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County. The agency said the permit would cause irreparable environmental damage and threaten the health of nearby communities.
The 2,300-acre mine would have been the state's largest mountaintop removal operation. Environmental groups have fought for years to stop it.
Several longtime activists accused Tomblin during a Wednesday conference call on the ruling of shilling for the industry and ignoring the concerns of communities near the large strip mines.
"What acting Governor Tomblin is doing Thursday is not in keeping with the needs of the people of West Virginia," said Vernon Haltom of Coal River Mountain Watch. "He is acting as a coal lobbyist and not as a governor should."
Tomblin's spokeswoman, Jacqueline Proctor, defended the event.

"The core of what the governor is trying to express is the fact that the EPA revoked a permit that had been issued several years ago - and we take umbrage with that," she said.
Activists say millions of dollars in industry donations to state political campaigns - from the Legislature to state Supreme Court - have caused most of the state's politicians to ignore "people who live with the misery of mountaintop removal."
"EPA is doing its job. EPA is applying science," added retired miner Chuck Nelson, an activist with the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. "Everyone is taking the money. That's why don't want to focus on the health issues."
One of the lawyers who has been fighting the Spruce mine since 1998 said he hopes the ruling signals a change. Both the EPA and the corps have historically been "little more than rubber stamps" when it comes to permitting coal mines, said Joe Lovett, executive director for the Appalachian Center for the Economy & the Environment.
In this case, however, EPA had been critical of the corps' Clean Water Act permit form the start, he said.
Lovett said his group and others will continue to fight mountaintop removal mines that are permanently changing the landscape of southern West Virginia and parts of Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee.
"The Spruce mine - though it is important for us because it was where we started - isn't a unique mine," he said. "It is an important decision, but we hope it's the first of many."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Environmental Groups Take Rosa Coal Mine Fight to Court of Appeals

P R E S S * R E L E A S E
Southern Environmental Law Center
January 20, 2011

*****************************************************
Environmental Groups Take Rosa Coal Mine Fight to Court of Appeals *****************************************************
Contact:
Gil Rogers, Senior Attorney, 404-521-9900
Cat McCue, Senior Communications Manager, 434-977-4090
                                  
Representing:
Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Nelson Brooke, 205-458-0095
Friends of the Locust Fork River, Sam Howell, 205-706-4376      

Montgomery, AL – Two Alabama river groups are appealing an administrative law judge’s approval of a permit for a massive strip, auger and underground coal mine in Blount County.  The Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of the Black Warrior Riverkeeper and Friends of Locust Fork River, filed the necessary papers this week with the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals; only a few coal mine permits have ever been appealed to this level in Alabama.

The groups say the water pollution control permit for the Rosa Mine issued by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management in October 2009 violates federal and state laws on multiple counts, and would fail utterly to protect water quality. The permit issued to MCoal is for a 3,255-acre coal mine that would allow more than 60 pollution discharge points into numerous feeder streams of the Locust Fork, a tributary of the Black Warrior River that is already on ADEM’s list of the most polluted streams in the state.

“The permit that ADEM issued for this huge industrial operation is woefully deficient – there are virtually no meaningful protections for the Locust Fork,” said SELC senior attorney Gil Rogers. “We are committed to protecting these resources and the communities that depend on them, and are not giving up the fight.”

The groups first appealed the permit in late 2009 after a hearing before the Environmental Management Commission last year, which ruled that the coal mine permit would not harm the Locust Fork. The Montgomery County Circuit Court affirmed that ruling in December.

The groups say ADEM violated federal and state laws in several ways when it issued a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit for the strip mine. For example, the agency failed to conduct a site-specific environmental analysis and instead issued a “rubber-stamp” permit it gives other coal mines. The Rosa Mine permit is virtually identical to the one ADEM issued for the proposed Shepherd Bend Mine in Walker County, which is roughly half the size. (SELC and  Black Warrior Riverkeeper are also challenging that permit; a hearing is scheduled in late February.)  In addition, the agency:
·         Failed to require a pollution abatement and prevention plan from the company;
·         Allowed pollution to be discharged to an already impaired stream;
·         Granted a blanket exemption for all pollution limits when it rains; and
·         Failed to require limits on chlorides, aluminum and other contaminants that are common problems with coal mine discharges.

 “The Locust Fork near the Rosa Mine is an absolutely beautiful stretch of river where thousands of people from across the country go each year to enjoy its scenery, fishing, paddling opportunities, swimming, hiking, wildlife watching, photography, and more,” said Nelson Brooke, Black Warrior Riverkeeper.  “This permit should not have been issued and we will continue to advocate its revocation.” 

“Heaven forbid there should ever be a major pollution event on the Locust Fork River, but, as we know from the TVA coal ash spill and the BP oil spill, catastrophes do occur,” said Sam Howell, president of the Friends of the Locust Fork River. “That is why our groups are taking these extraordinary steps to ensure that ADEM fully and rigorously evaluates the environmental impacts of this proposed coal mine so close to so many communities.”


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The Southern Environmental Law Center is a regional conservation organization using the power of the law to protect the health and environment of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC's team of 40 legal experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use.

WEB: www.SouthernEnvironment.org
FACEBOOK: http://www.fanofselc.org
TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/selc_org
 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Impacts of Coal" Rally Thursday, Jan 20

"Impacts of Coal" Rally
Thursday, Jan 20
1:30pm
Meet at Laidley Field Parking Area (1549 Piedmont Road at Elizabeth St,
Charleston)

West Virginia's Acting Governor Tomblin is hosting a "Rally for Coal" at the
state capitol on Thursday to show his opposition to the EPA's veto of the
Spruce No 1 mountaintop removal mine.  The governor has announced that the
purpose of his rally is to "show the EPA how coal impacts our lives, and the
lives of our fellow countrymen."  So let's go and remind the governor of
coal's impact - slurry injections, blasting, poisoned water, destruction of
our communities, cancer and death.  The EPA finally did its job and now it
is under attack by our own state government. The governor does not speak for
us. He speaks for the coal industry. We must show our support for the EPA's
decision and make our voices heard.

Please show up, bring your friends, bring a camera and bring signs, photos
and any other visuals that illustrate the devastation that coal has wrought
in our region. We will gather at the bus shelter at Laidley Field and leave
at 1:30 to walk together to the capitol, near the acting governor's rally. 

IMPORTANT:
* This is a non-violent event; we intend to demonstrate in a peaceful and
respectful manner. 
* Please do not engage with pro-coal demonstrators, regardless of how they
react to us.
* Do not bring anything that could be construed as a weapon, including signs
with wooden poles
* Take responsibility for the safety of the people standing next to you



From Coal River Mountain Watch

Thursday, January 13, 2011

EPA Halts Disposal of Mining Waste to Appalachian Waters at Proposed Spruce Mine

Breaking news: EPA vetoes Spruce Mine permit

January 13, 2011 by Ken Ward Jr.
Word is just coming down that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has vetoed the largest single mountaintop removal permit in West Virginia history.

The move is part of an Obama administration crackdown aimed at reducing the effects of mountaintop removal coal-mining on the environment and on coalfield communities in Appalachian — impacts that scientists are increasingly finding to be pervasive and irreversible.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2011


EPA Halts Disposal of Mining Waste to Appalachian Waters at Proposed Spruce Mine

Agency cites irreversible damage to clean water, environment in the region



WASHINGTON – After extensive scientific study, a major public hearing in West Virginia and review of more than 50,000 public comments, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it will use its authority under the Clean Water Act to halt the proposed disposal of mining waste in streams at the Mingo-Logan Coal Company’s Spruce No. 1 coal mine. EPA is acting under the law and using the best science to protect water quality, wildlife and Appalachian communities, who rely on clean waters for drinking, fishing and swimming. EPA has used this Clean Water Act authority in just 12 circumstances since 1972 and reserves this authority for only unacceptable cases. This permit was first proposed in the 1990s and has been held up in the courts ever since.

“The proposed Spruce No. 1 Mine would use destructive and unsustainable mining practices that jeopardize the health of Appalachian communities and clean water on which they depend,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Peter S. Silva.  “Coal and coal mining are part of our nation’s energy future and EPA has worked with companies to design mining operations that adequately protect our nation’s waters. We have a responsibility under the law to protect water quality and safeguard the people who rely on clean water.”

EPA’s final determination on the Spruce Mine comes after discussions with the company spanning more than a year failed to produce an agreement that would lead to a significant decrease in impacts to the environment and Appalachian communities. The action prevents the mine from disposing of the waste into streams unless the company identifies an alternative mining design that would avoid irreversible damage to water quality and meets the requirements of the law. Despite EPA’s willingness to consider alternatives, Mingo Logan did not offer any new proposed mining configurations in response to EPA’s Recommended Determination. 

EPA believes that companies can design their operations to make them more sustainable and compliant with the law. Last year, EPA worked closely with a mining company in West Virginia to eliminate nearly 50 percent of their water impacts and reduce contamination while at the same time increasing their coal production. These are the kinds of success stories that can be achieved through collaboration and willingness to reduce the impact on mining pollution on our waters. Those changes helped permanently protect local waters, maximize coal recovery and reduce costs for the operators.

isa.jalil@epa.gov
EPA’s decision to stop mining waste discharges to high quality streams at the Spruce No. 1 mine was based on several major environmental and water quality concerns. The proposed mine project would have:

·         Disposed of 110 million cubic yards of coal mine waste into streams.
·         Buried more than six miles of high-quality streams in Logan County, West Virginia with millions of tons of mining waste from the dynamiting of more than 2,200 acres of mountains and forestlands. 
·         Buried more than 35,000 feet of high-quality streams under mining waste, which will eliminate all fish, small invertebrates, salamanders, and other wildlife that live in them.
·         Polluted downstream waters as a result of burying these streams, which will lead to unhealthy levels of salinity and toxic levels of selenium that turn fresh water into salty water. The resulting waste that then fills valleys and streams can significantly compromise water quality, often causing permanent damage to ecosystems and streams.
·         Caused downstream watershed degradation that will kill wildlife, impact birdlife, reduce habitat value, and increase susceptibility to toxic algal blooms.
·         Inadequately mitigated for the mine’s environmental impacts by not replacing streams being buried, and attempting to use stormwater ditches as compensation for natural stream losses.

Additionally, during the permitting process there was a failure to consider cumulative watershed degradation resulting from past, present, and future mining in the area.

Finally, EPA’s decision prohibits five proposed valley fills in two streams, Pigeonroost Branch, and Oldhouse Branch, and their tributaries. Mining activities at the Spruce site are underway in Seng Camp Creek as a result of a prior agreement reached in the active litigation with the Mingo Logan Coal Company. EPA’s Final Determination does not affect current mining in Seng Camp Creek.

Background on Clean Water Act Section 404(c)

Clean Water Act Section 404(c) authorizes EPA to restrict or prohibit placing dredged or fill material in streams, lakes, rivers, wetlands and other waters if the agency determines that the activities would result in “unacceptable adverse effects” to the environment, water quality, or water supplies. This authority applies to proposed projects as well as projects previously permitted under the Clean Water Act although EPA is not considering such action for other previously permitted projects.

With today’s action, EPA has exercised its Section 404(c) authority only 13 times in its history of the CWA. EPA recognizes the importance of ensuring that its Section 404(c) actions are taken only where environmental impacts are truly unacceptable and will use this authority only where warranted by science and the law.

For a copy of the Final Determination:




http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/cwa/dredgdis/ 404c_index.cfm
Note: If a link above doesn't work, please copy and paste the URL into a browser.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Electric cars... At what price?

When I hear people talking about clean running electric cars I tremble if fear for the mountains where I live. The recent, or should I say the most recent disaster was in the Gulf of Mexico and caused the world to look first, then question the need for such dangerous extraction of oil. The knee jerk reaction of most people was "we need to switch to electric cars". Deep water drilling is, without a doubt dangerous but highly productive so it has been somewhat ignored because we Americans must have at least a car apiece.

I have been following and reporting on the Gulf Crisis since it started and have listened to the cries of the people. I have tried to stay in the middle and just report but I can no longer sit still without explaining where your electricity comes from to charge these oil saving electric cars.

Seen below here is a photograph that covered an area so large I had to shoot 11 separate photos to get it all  in then stitch them together to show the expanse of an Alabama coal mine.

On the left is the Black Warrior River where it is about 1/4 mile wide. That tiny speck in the very right side in the river is a tug boat with at least 8, 35X195 foot coal barges.

Following the horizon to the right you come to the  loader sticking up painted white. Those are huge conveyor belts that run miles underground where the coal is extracted.

Behind that is a large scale power substation needed to power this behemoth.

Follow around to the right some more and you come to a black looking mountain. Much taller than the tree line next to it. That is not a mountain or even coal for sale. That is the waste pile called GOB. (Geological Over Burden). That is the shale and dirtiest of the impurities taken out of the coal. Many such piles exist like this one around Alabama, and in fact all of coal country.

Follow it on around and you come to a new pit for more waste. All together, this photo covers about 3 miles of Alabama horizon. All of what you see here has been undermined, even the river!

My brothers and sister, please be careful of what you pray for.
Photo by JLW, click to enlarge

Electric cars... Yes, if they are SOLAR powered electric cars.
Remember, it takes mountains of coal to make electricity!

John L. Wathen,
Chairman, Citizens Coal Council

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Julia 'Judy' Bonds, 58, dies; outspoken foe of mountaintop strip mining

Julia 'Judy' Bonds, 58, dies; outspoken foe of mountaintop strip mining
By Emma Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 4, 2011; 11:28 PM
Judy, front and center in a DC blizzard, STOP MTR (JLW)
Julia "Judy" Bonds, the spitfire daughter of a West Virginia coal miner who worked as a Pizza Hut waitress before she became, in midlife, a leading voice of the grass-roots resistance to mountaintop strip mining, died Jan. 3 of cancer at a hospital in Charleston, W.Va. She was 58.

Ms. Bonds was one of the most visible and outspoken activists against what is sometimes called "mountaintop removal," a mining practice peculiar to Appalachia in which peaks are sheared off with explosives to expose the coal seams below.

A coalfields native who scraped by working in restaurants and convenience stores, Ms. Bonds was equivocal about the risks of mining until the 1990s, when the A.T. Massey Coal Co. arrived in Marfork hollow, one of the narrow, green valleys that wind through the Appalachian Mountains in southern West Virginia.

Ms. Bonds lived most of her life in that hollow, as did generations of her family before her. In childhood, she had come to know its fishing spots and swimming holes; later, as a young single mother, she had raised her daughter in Marfork.

"There is nothing like being in the hollows," she once told the Los Angeles Times. "You feel snuggled. You feel safe. It seems like God has his arms around you."

But when Massey Energy Co., as it is now known, began blasting, the air became filled with dust and cacophony, and families began moving out. Ms. Bonds refused to go. Marfork was home.

Then her 6-year-old grandson - who, like other children in the hollow, had developed a case of asthma that couldn't be ignored - asked her a question: "What's wrong with these fish?"

He was standing in the local creek, holding fistfuls of dead fish, with more floating belly-up around his ankles.

"I knew something was very, very wrong," Ms. Bonds told Sierra magazine. "So I began to open my eyes and pay attention."

She discovered that Marfork was one of many West Virginia hollows dealing with the effects of mountaintop mining, which was developed in the 1970s but whose use began accelerating about two decades ago.

And she learned that Massey had planned a dam farther up Marfork hollow - an impoundment that would hold millions of gallons of coal sludge. Her family would be in danger if the dam failed, and such dams had failed before - including in 1972 at Buffalo Creek, W.Va., where 125 people were killed in the toxic flood.

When she heard her grandson concocting escape plans in the event of a dam break, Ms. Bonds - the last holdout in Marfork - knew that it was time to move and time to call attention to the threats of mountaintop mining to clean air, clean water and the Appalachian way of life.

She became a volunteer with and then executive director of Coal River Mountain Watch, a local grass-roots group. She taught herself how to challenge the mining companies' federal and state permit applications.

Embracing her hillbilly identity, she shrugged off the argument that rural people needed the coal industry's jobs.

"If coal is so good for us hillbillies," she said at a 2008 Appalachian Studies Association conference, "then why are we so poor?"
photo by JLW

Massey - the subject of scrutiny after an explosion at its underground Upper Big Branch Mine killed 29 West Virginia miners in April - was a frequent target of Ms. Bonds's. She confronted coal industry executives, organized marches, lobbied at the West Virginia statehouse and in Washington and traveled the country talking to young people.

Her message was consistent: The health and safety of Appalachia's poor were being sacrificed for the profits of energy companies.

"We're a colony here, and the coal companies rule," the writer Michael Shnayerson quotes her as saying in his 2008 book, "Coal River." "We can complain all we want, but those complaints are just swept aside in the name of progress and jobs. It's like we're selling our children's feet to buy shoes."

She stood her ground despite insults and threats from neighbors and coal workers, who felt their livelihoods were threatened by her forthrightness and her rage. At a protest against Massey last year, a woman clad in an orange-striped miner's shirt slapped Ms. Bonds while other Massey supporters cheered in approval.

"Judy always insisted that the story of coal and mountaintop removal was a human story, a human rights story," said Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign and a longtime ally of Ms. Bonds's. "She personified that story at great personal risk."

Ms. Bonds was earning $12,000 a year at her job as an activist when, in 2003, she was awarded the prestigious $125,000 Goldman Environmental Prize. After paying for her grandson's braces, helping her daughter buy a car and paying off the family's mortgage, Ms. Bonds donated nearly $50,000 to Coal River Mountain Watch - an amount equal to the organization's annual budget.

Once little known outside the coalfields, mountaintop removal has in recent years become the subject of environmental and public health controversy with a national profile.

A plotline in one of the most celebrated novels of 2010, Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom," tells the story of a hardscrabble West Virginia community uprooted by a mountaintop removal project. Last October, more than 100 people were arrested at the White House during a protest against mountaintop removal.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, between 1985 and 2001, debris scraped from hundreds of thousands of acres choked more than 700 miles of streams. Under President Obama, the EPA has sought to restrict  new permits for the practice and tighten safeguards for natural resources

Such recognition of the problems related to mountaintop removal is "due in no small part," Hitt said, "to the leadership and the sacrifice of Judy Bonds."

Julia Belle Thompson was born Aug. 27, 1952, at the family home in the Birch Hollow part of what is now called Marfork. When Ms. Bonds was growing up, the place was better known as Packsville, said Ms. Bond's daughter, Lisa Henderson.

Ms. Bonds was one of eight children, two of whom died at birth. Her father retired from working in underground coal mines at 65 and died several months later of pneumoconiosis, better known as black lung disease.

Besides her daughter, of Rock Creek, W. Va., survivors include a brother, three sisters and a grandson.

"See that? That's the ironweed," Ms. Bonds once said, pointing out a purple-flowered plant to a visiting reporter. "They say they're a symbol for Appalachian women. They're pretty. And their roots run deep. It's hard to move them."
We love you Judy (JLW


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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Thousands Pay Tribute to Judy Bonds:

Thousands Pay Tribute to Judy Bonds: She Has Been to the Mountaintop--and We Must Fight Harder to Save It

She was a tireless, funny, and inspiring orator, and a savvy and brilliant community organizer. She was fearless in the face of threats. As the godmother of the anti-mountaintop removal movement, she gave birth to a new generation of clean energy and human rights activists across the nation. In a year of mining disasters and climate change set backs, she challenged activists to redouble their efforts.

As one of the great visionaries to emerge out of the coalfields, Julia "Judy" Bonds reminded the nation that her beloved Appalachians had been to the mountaintop--and in her passing last night, thousands of anti-mountaintop removal mining and New Power activists from around the country are reminding the Obama administration and the country's environmental justice movement of Bonds' powerful legacy and parting words to "don't let up, fight harder and finish off" the outlaw ranks of Big Coal and end the egregious crime of mountaintop removal.

In a special email message last night, Coal River Mountain Watch director Vernon Haltom announced the passing of Bonds, the Goldman Prize winner and Executive Director of Coal River Mountain Watch. Bonds, 58, had battled advanced stage cancer over the past several months. "One of Judy's last acts was to go on a speaking trip, even though she was not feeling well, shortly before her diagnosis," Haltom wrote. "I believe, as others do, that Judy's years in Marfork holler, where she remained in her ancestral home as long as she could, subjected her to Massey Energy's airborne toxic dust and led to the cancer that wasted no time in taking its toll. Judy will be missed by all in this movement, as an icon, a leader, an inspiration, and a friend."

Here's a clip from a special tribute to Judy by On Coal River filmmakers Adams Wood and Francine Cavanaugh:

Judy Bonds from On Coal River on Vimeo.

A little more than a decade ago, sitting on the coal dust-swept front porch with her grandson--the ninth generation of their family to reside in Marfork Hollow in West Virginia--Bonds was outraged to hear her 7-year-old grandson describe an escape route should a nearby massive coal waste dam break and flood their valley. "I knew in my heart there was really no escape," Bonds told an interviewer in 2003. "How do you tell a child that his life is a sacrifice for corporate greed? You can't tell him that, you don't tell him that, but of course he understands that now."

Forced by an encroaching strip mine to move from her family's ancestral land, Bonds spent the next decade as a full-time crusader (and coal miner's daughter) to bring her grandson's message of central Appalachia's role as a national sacrifice zone from the devastating impact of mountaintop removal strip mining to millions of Americans across the country.

For fellow activist Bo Webb, who went to jail and organized side-by-side with Bonds for years in the Coal River Valley, Judy was one of the better angels of our nature: "Judy was one of God's most loyal and dedicated Angels in the battle of good vs. evil. I will miss her, we will all miss her. After much suffering, she now stands before God, without doubt holding a very special place in His heart. May God bless and comfort those that love and adore Judy. May God bless and comfort her wonderful family, and may God give us the unity and conviction to fight on in her honor and His name."

"Judy Bonds was our Hillbilly Moses," added Bob Kincaid, president of the Coal River Mountain Watch board. "She knew better than anyone that we WILL make it to the Promised Land: out of the poisonous bondage of coal companies. She will not cross over with us on that great day, but her spirit will join us, and inform the freedom that sings from our hearts. Mother Jones, meet Judy. Judy, Mother."

In a special Living on Earth radio interview with Jeff Young in 2003, Bonds recalled her grandson holding a handul of dead fish contaminated by coal waste. "And I looked around him and there were dead fish laying all over the stream. And that was a slap in the face."

From the United Nation to the halls of Congress, and at universities and conferences from Maine to California, Bonds testified to the ravages of strip mining on her community's waterways, economy and culture. Her riveting speeches galvanized activists from the hollers to the urban neighborhoods, and among national environmental organizations.

"Judy was a strong, powerful voice that always sang wisdom, inspiration, passion and determination to my soul," wrote Chris Hill, the National Field Organizer for the Hip Hop Caucus in Washington, DC. "She was a voice that will forever speak volumes to the reasons why I fight for justice from the mountains to the inner cities."

"Judy often remarked how she proudly stood shoulder to shoulder with outside groups like Rainforest Action Network," added Scott Parkin, Senior Campaigner for RAN's Coal Campaign. "During an E.P.A. action last March, I saw her beaming with a big smile and much excitement as we worked together to make mountaintop removal a national issue and take the fight to end it out of the hills and hollers of Appalachia into offices of the power-holders in Washington D.C."

"She inspired thousands in the movement to end mountaintop removal and was a driving force in making it what it has become," Haltom wrote in his email message to national activists. "I can't count the number of times someone told me they got involved because they heard Judy speak, either at their university, at a rally, or in a documentary. Judy endured much personal suffering for her leadership. While people of lesser courage would candy-coat their words or simply shut up and sit down, Judy called it as she saw it. She endured physical assault, verbal abuse, and death threats because she stood up for justice for her community."

"One of the happiest days of my life was when we announced the funding for a new school to replace Marsh Fork Elementary," said filmmaker and activist Jerry Cope, who worked with Coal River Valley residents to move a school imperiled by coal dust and a dangerous coal slurry impoundment. "Without Judy's inspiration, I would have never become involved and she will forever be a source of inspiration to me."

In a special tribute to Judy by filmmakers Jordan Freeman and Mari-Lynn Evans, Judy asked for the right to go home. "I miss my home," she pleaded. "I want to go home."

Like generations before her, Judy Bonds has finally gone home to her Marfolk Holler.


And thousands of coalfield residents, activists and leaders will continue the battle to ensure that Coal River Mountain--the last mountain--remains in her view, and mountaintop removal is abolished once and for all.

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