Daniel Shea, Hell's Gate, from his 2007 Appalachian photo series "Removing Mountains"
Today is day four of a sit-in in the Kentucky governor's office by 76-year-old poet Wendell Berry and 13 other Kentucky Rising activists who are calling for an end to harsh mountaintop-removal mining. The group is urging Gov. Steve Beshear to "lead by ending mountaintop removal, by beginning a sincere public dialogue about creating sustainable jobs for our hard-working miners, by putting the vital interests of ordinary Kentuckians above the special interests of an abusive industry." In his 2011 State of the Commonwealth speech, Beshear decried "Washington bureaucrats" over what he calls the "arbitrary and unreasonable regulations on the mining of coal." "Get off our backs," he said of the EPA.
Writes Berry: "[O]ur protest is against methods of mining that are abusive. We do not oppose mining per se. Our purpose is to protect our land and water. And we most certainly bear no ill will against those who work in mines."
Authors Michael Pollan and Bill McKibben have been vocal in support of the activists. McKibben:
It's about time that people said: 'No more business as usual, if that means leveling the mountains of southern Appalachia.' And it comes as no surprise that Wendell Berry is in the forefront, as he has been for an entire generation. When the rest of the nation sees the person we most associate with Kentucky taking a stand like this, we pay attention."Last summer, Berry ungifted his papers to the University of Kentucky, his home state, after it decided to name its basketball players' dormitory after the coal industry.
Today is I Love Mountains Day, when activists are marching to the Kentucky capitol in protest of the mining procedure.