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Don't Let Up, Fight Harder

Judy Bonds may not be physically present when thousands of people take action September 27th in Washington, D.C. to demand an end to mountaintop removal and strip mining, and that would be a real shame. If there is one person who has done more in their life to shake up the coal barons and, in her words, "put them on the ropes," it's Judy Bonds, co-director of Coal River Mountain Watch.

Judy may not be there because she learned last month that she has stage three cancer. Treatment will take at least three months.

There's no question, however, that Judy will be there in spirit, and that her spirit is guiding the growing Appalachia Rising coalition (http://www.appalachiarising.org). This coalition is organizing a two-day "Voices of the Mountains" conference the weekend of September 25-26 followed by a mass demonstration on Monday the 27th.

The action on the 27th will demand an end to mountaintop removal and all forms of steep slope surface mining. In addition to a vibrant, permitted march and rally, dignified non-violent civil disobedience is being organized for those who wish to express themselves by risking arrest.

Appalachia Rising was initiated by leading individual activists in Appalachia from groups like Coal River Mountain Watch, Mountain Justice, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, On Coal River, Climate Ground Zero, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and many others. 100 organizations have endorsed the action so far, and the list continues to grow. Among those with name recognition who have endorsed, some of whom will be taking part, are: Jim Hansen, Bill McKibben, Kathy Mattea, Ashley Judd, Wendell Berry, Gloria Reuben, Woody Harrelson, Darryl Hannah, Kyra Sedgewick, Kevin Bacon and Ed Begley, Jr.

The cause of ending mountaintop removal is a popular one. According to a poll conducted in 2008 by the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, 2/3 of all U.S. Americans, including 2/3rds of West Virginians where the practice is widespread, oppose mountaintop removal.

Under the Obama Administration, there has been progress toward the objective of ending these assaults on God's creation. In the last year the Environmental Protection Agency has released new guidelines to curtail mountaintop removal under the Clean Water Act, and the Army Corps of Engineers has suspended Nationwide Permit 21, which, under the Bush administration, had streamlined the valley fill permitting process to the benefit of the coal industry. 


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