Thursday 7 June 2012

Protest group Appalachia Rising occupy the offices of four US Representatives.

On Wednesday 6 June 2012 activists from the protest Group Appalachia Rising occupied the offices of four US Representatives from states in the Appalachian Region. The group were protesting against the increased used of open-pit mining in the Appalachian Mountains, and in particular the process known as mountaintop removal, in which the entire top of mountain ridges are removed in order to expose coal seems, which can then be completely removed. The process has been linked to extreme environmental degradation, and severe health impacts on local communities.

Mountaintop removal at Oven Fork, near Whitesburg (Letcher County, Kentucky). The Mountaintop Removal Road Show.

The representatives affected were Congressman John Duncan (Republican), representing Tennessee's 2nd District, Congressman Nick Rahall (Democrat), representing the 3rd District of West Virginia, Congressman Hal Rogers (Republican), representing Kentucky's 5th District, and Congressman Morgan Griffith (Republican), representing Virginia's 9th District. Each was targeted by a group from their own state. A total of 22 activists were arrested in Washington, two in Representative Duncan's office, six in Representative Griffith's office, seven in Representative Rogers' office and seven in Representative Rahall's Office. All four Congressmen have been accused of having a poor record on environmental issues, and of supporting the interests of extraction companies over those of their constituents.

Protesters from Kentucky inside the office of Representative Hal Rogers. Appalachia Rising.

The protests come a week after Memorial Day protests in which Appalachian women shaved their heads in morning for mountains which have been removed, and protests on the first of this month in which members of the Earth Quaker Action Team and the Sierra Club organized mass withdrawals from the PNC Bank in protest at its investment in mountaintop removal projects.

Mountaintop removal has been linked to severe environmental problems, including loss of biodiversity and toxification of water resources. It has also been linked to severe health issues; communities close to mountaintop removal projects have been shown to suffer sharp increases in levels of cancer and birth defects, placing a severe strain on local healthcare providers. The process has also caused more direct disruption to communities, with homes, churches and graveyards being removed or relocated against the will of the local populations.

See also Daw Mill Colliery threatened with closureThe effects of oil sands mining on wetlands in northern AlbertaGreenpeace activists occupy drilling ship in New ZealandProtestors object to the expansion of the Conga Mine in Peru and Acid spill from gold mine adds to Edith River's woes.

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