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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/13/11

Mountaintop Removal: Environmental and Human Destruction for Profit

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"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. (As a result, she) endured physical assault, verbal abuse, and death threats because she stood up for justice for her community. I never met a more courageous person, one who faced her own death," yet wouldn't back down. "Fight harder," she always said, in the vanguard always doing it.

On January 3, 2011, coal toxins silenced the "passion, conviction, tenacity, courage, and love for her fellow human beings" that coal barons tried and failed to do for years. "Judy will be missed by all in this movement as an icon, a leader, an inspiration, and a friend."

National Geographic quoted her saying:

"What the coal companies are doing to us and our mountains is the best kept dirty little secret in America."

Because of her efforts and fellow activists, the secret's out. "Coal companies have obliterated the summits of scores of mountains scattered throughout Appalachia...." 

According to (, coal companies destroyed or severely impacted about 500 mountains and 1.2 million acres, reclaiming only a small fraction of the land for so-called beneficial economic uses.

In fact, a 2009 Appalachian Voices 2009 report (based on 2008 aerial and mining permit data) found "one in every ten (Central Appalachia studied) acres" ravaged by surface mining. Moreover, in some locations, it's much more. In Wise County, VA, it's nearly 40%. States affected include Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee.

In June 2006, Vanity Fair writer Michael Shnayerson's article called it "The Rape of Appalachia," saying:

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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