A MOUNTAINTOP REVELATION

There is environmental degradation – and then there is environmental degradation that punches you right in the stomach.

There is environmental degradation – and then there is environmental degradation that punches you right in the stomach.

Mountaintop removal is in this last category. Actually, “removal” is way too nice of a phrase for this abhorrent, totally-destructive assault on mother nature by coal corporations. Rather than tunneling down to extract coal, corporate giants are simply blasting away the top thirds of Appalachia’s mountains to allow them to scoop out the deposits.

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This process is literally destroying some of the most gorgeous, ancient, and ecologically-unique mountains in the whole world – as well as destroying the life of people, plants, and animals that inhabit these serene forests. The rubble that once was the mountaintop is labeled “spoil” by the corporations, which crudely bulldoze it down into the streams and valleys below, where it is then called “fill.”

For years, local residents and environmental groups have fought often lonely battles against these powerful corporate exploiters, but lately they are being joined by some allies who are new to environmental causes – and who come to the fight with a strong moral force: “Christians for the Mountains.” They are a part of a national awakening among people of faith to what evangelicals call “creation care,” and this Appalachian group is urging religious people to take up mountaintop destruction “as a spiritual issue” – which, after all, it is.

Of course, the coal industry insists that it is doing God’s work by blowing up mountains. As an industry spokesman explained: “Human welfare depends on the rational exploitation of nature.” But the corporation’s aren’t winning this religious argument – as a retired coal miner put it as he viewed the blasted and flattened peaks where he lives: “God ain’t ever run no bulldozer.”

To learn about a DVD explaining the issue, contact Christians for the Mountains: www.christiansforthemountains.org or call (304) 799-4137.

“Taking On a Coal Mining Practice as a Matter of Faith,” The New York Times, October 28, 2006.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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