Hannah and Hansen: Doing What Comes Naturally

Marsh Fork Protest hansenjamesarrest

Darryl Hannah and James Hansen, two of our favorite eco-citizens, joined hundreds protesting mountain top removal in West Virgina — and were handcuffed for their trouble. Send them some love!

Actress Daryl Hannah was arrested this afternoon in West Virginia along with NASA climatologist James Hansen, local activist Michael Brune of Rainforest Action Network, Goldman Prize winner Judy Bonds, 94-year-old former U.S. Representative Ken Hechler and more than a dozen others.
Effects of mountaintop removal near Marsh Fork Elem.

Effects of mountaintop removal near Marsh Fork Elem.

They were protesting at an elementary school threatened by a 2.8-billion-gallon coal sludge impoundment where coal dust in the air exceeds acceptable limits. Protestors trespassed on land owned by coal giant Massey Energy.

The protest is part of a string of increasingly dramatic actions objecting to the Obama Administration’s announcement that the EPA will reform, but not abolish, mountaintop removal mining. Later this week, Congress will host a hearing titled, “The Impacts of Mountaintop Removal Mining on Water Quality in Appalachia.”

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Read Hansen’s Plea to President Obama:

The science is clear. Burning all fossil fuels will destroy the future of young people and the unborn. And the fossil fuel that we must stop burning is coal. Coal is the critical issue. Coal is the main cause of climate change. It is also the dirtiest fossil fuel — air pollution, arsenic, and mercury from coal have devastating effects on human health and cause birth defects.

Recently, the administration unveiled its new position on mountaintop coal mining and set out a number of new restrictions on the practice in six Appalachian states. These new rules will require tougher environmental review before blowing up mountains. But it’s a minimal step.

The Obama administration is being forced into a political compromise. It has sacrificed a strong position on mountaintop removal in order to ensure the support of coal-state legislators for a climate bill. The political pressures are very real. But this is an approach to coal that defeats the purpose of the administration’s larger efforts to fight climate change, a sad political bargain that will never get us the change we need on mountaintop removal, coal or the climate. Coal is the linchpin in mitigating global warming, and it’s senseless to allow cheap mountaintop-removal coal while the administration is simultaneously seeking policies to boost renewable energy.

Mountaintop removal, which provides a mere 7 percent of the nation’s coal, is done by clear-cutting forests, blowing the tops off of mountains, and then dumping the debris into streambeds — an undeniably catastrophic

We must make clear that we the people want a move toward a rapid phase-out of coal emissions now.

way of mining. This technique has buried more than 800 miles of Appalachian streams in mining debris and by 2012 will have serious damaged or destroyed an area larger than Delaware.

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