Groups to press Obama to end Appalachian surface mining

Lexington Herald-LeaderSeptember 1, 2010 

Environmental and human rights activists starting a new movement to march on Washington say the Obama administration should not only tighten regulations on surface mining in Appalachia but abolish the practice.

"We're about to take the EPA back," said Mickey McCoy, a retired high school teacher from Inez in Martin County and a leader of Appalachia Rising, a movement endorsed in part by Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the Sierra Club and celebrities such as author Silas House, actress Ashley Judd and actor Woody Harrelson.

Appalachia Rising is planning a two-day conference at Georgetown University on Sept. 25 and 26, and a march and acts of civil disobedience in Washington on a "day of action" Sept. 27.

In Kentucky, a group will hold a prayer service on Sept. 11 at Wiley's Last Resort in Whitesburg to seek sustainable jobs, miners' safety, clean water, health forests and security from flooding.

Pro-coal groups such as the Kentucky Coal Association and FACES of Coal are planning their own rally in Washington to highlight the economic impact of coal on Sept. 15.

Coal-burning plants produce about 50 percent of the nation's electricity, and more than 90 percent of Kentucky's. Coal mines employ about 19,000 people in the state, including about 7,000 on surface mines, according to 2008 numbers from the U.S. Department of Energy.

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