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By Donna Lisenby
The Summer of Solidarity event began with a rally in Lafayette Park in Washington, DC where speakers spoke passionately about the urgent need to shift towards clean energy and away from extreme forms of dirty energy like coal which poisons our waters, destroys our mountains, pollutes our air and harms our health.
Many speakers invoked the memory of mountain hero Larry Gibson who passed away on Sunday, Sept. 9. Activists carried Larry’s fighting spirit to the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality by delivering more than 13,000 personal photos and messages urging president Obama to end mountaintop removal coal mining.
Each of the 13,000 messages decried this radical form of strip mining in Appalachia that has impacted more than 500 mountains and buried more than 2,400 miles of streams. Recent peer-reviewed scientific studies have shown widespread devastating health problems near mountaintop removal mining: citizens near mountaintop removal are 50 percent more likely to die of cancer and 42 percent more likely to be born with birth defects as compared with other people in Appalachia.
When learning of about Larry Gibson’s death on Sunday Waterkeeper Alliance president Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. stated, “My uncle, President Kennedy, said that, ‘moral courage is a far greater commodity than physical courage.’ Larry Gibson had extraordinary physical courage with standing arrests, beatings, bullets, dog kills, car chases and attacks on his home–but he was the Achilles of moral courage. He stood up for all of us and for American democracy against the apocalyptical forces of ignorance and greed. The coal companies tried to crush him but it could never subvert his integrity or spirit. Larry was our leader in the coal fields and he died with his boots on.”
Participating Organizations in the Summer of Solidarity Event at the White House included:
Earthjustice • Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition • Kentuckians For The Commonwealth • Coal River Mountain Watch • Christians For The Mountains • Keeper of the Mountains Foundation • Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment • Appalachian Voices • Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light • The Sierra Club • Waterkeeper Alliance • Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) • Chesapeake Climate Action Network • Energy Action Coalition • 350.org • Center for Biological Diversity • Rainforest Action Network
Visit EcoWatch’s MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL page for more related news on this topic.