August 14 through August 19, concerned citizens nationwide
rallied together at regional Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters
for National Days of Action protesting mountaintop-removal coal mining (MTR).
Demonstrations took place in Atlanta, New York, Boston, Dallas, Kansas City,
Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, DC. These actions were organized
and led by numerous environmental and social justice organizations across the
country, including United Mountain Defense, Student Environmental Action Coalition,
and Energy Justice Network, all working together for the ongoing Mountain Justice
movement against mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia.
“Mountaintop removal is one of the greatest environmental and human
rights crises plaguing this country. Appalachia cannot continue to be
ignored.” said Bonnie Swinford, United Mountain Defense Board Member.
Participants rallied to raise awareness of the Obama administration’s
approval, under EPA chief Lisa Jackson, of MTR permits that violate
the Clean Water Act and various other environmental laws. Concerned
citizens and coalfield residents cite numerous “appeasements” of
the coal industry, in spite of Obama’s campaign rhetoric opposing the
destructive practice. These include continued permits for dumping hazardous
mining waste into streams and valleys, weakening mining regulations
intended to protect waterways, and appointing several former coal industry
executives to regulatory positions.
EPA’s Region 4 Acting Regional Administrator, Stan Meiburg, joined
the activists during his lunch break at the Atlanta office, thanking them
for their actions. When asked what individuals could do to help the EPA
work on this issue more effectively, Meiburg explained that the EPA really
needs additional credible scientific data on the environmental impacts
of surface mining, from people on the ground.