Sunday, December 16, 2007

E. Ky. author asks state legislators to pass tighter controls on mountaintop-removal coal mining

When Kentucky legislators visited mountaintop-removal coal mines in Eastern Kentucky this month, they heard from regional author Silas House, right (in KET photo), who made one of the more cogent and eloquent arguments yet heard for tighter control of the practice in Central Appalachia. His testimony -- and in this case the word has more than the legal meaning -- appears in The (Louisville) Courier-Journal today.

"Mountaintop removal is a case study in greed, in taking from the community without giving back, in instant gratification," House says, while acknowledging deeply divided opinions in the region. "I can't tell you how many people have written to me to thank me for standing up and saying that mountaintop removal is wrong, for speaking out for what I believe in. I also can't tell you how many people have written me nasty letters, or have cussed me out, or have refused to speak to me at family gatherings."

House says coal companies "brainwashed us to believe . . . Eastern Kentucky couldn't make it without coal," but once he saw mountaintop mining from the air, "I have never been the same since. I couldn't believe that such disrespect could be done to the land, to the people, to my heritage. My convictions only thickened when I heard stories from the people."

House told the legislators, "I'm not asking you to ban coal mining. All I'm asking is for you to see the problems that mountaintop removal is causing, to see how it's a sacrilege to the land, to stand up and say, 'Now listen, we can mine coal, but we've got to do it with some integrity, with some respect, with some compassion for the land and our people.' To vote for more regulations and then to make sure that those restrictions are enforced." (Read more)

House is author of Clay's Quilt, A Parchment of Leaves and The Coal Tattoo. He is co-editing a new nonfiction book about mountaintop removal, scheduled for publication in fall 2008. The tentative title is Something’s Rising. His Web site is

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