Just Say No to Jean Ritchie Road!
Well, not this road, here and now. Appalachia is a place of great riches and great poverty. Most of the riches the coal industry has systematically stolen from those who live in that region with the help of gun thugs and politicians for generations. It was getting better. President Clinton was treating the coal industry as it should be treated, with criminal prosecutions for poisoning our rivers and our bodies with mercury in every state needlessly for years. Coal invested one hundred million dollars in the election of a politician who would make their crimes legal, and their investment paid off, George Walker Bush's "justice" department dropped the prosecution of coal burning power plants, and made the dumping of mining waste into the nations water systems and the pumping of mercury into our bodies, legal. Now, many of you might wonder how the executive branch of government can change laws, after all, aren't they presently of the party that rails against judge made laws? Well, the judge who ruled that the coal companies were breaking the clean water act by dumping mountain tops, and tons of precious lumber, and arsenic and other heavy metal pollutants into the streams in the valleys of Appalachia asked the same question. So far the only answer has been the coughing of the children of Appalachia choking on the particulate matter from the blasting of their mountains by now federally protected criminals.
Jean Ritchie Road. Every week the equivalent force to the bombing of Hiroshima is used in Appalachia by the coal industry to blast the tops off mountains and send the results, minus the coal into the valleys, destroying one of the most precious resources in this nation for one of the most destructive and wasteful sources of power we can use. As coal is mined the water in the streams of Appalachia turns as bright orange as the T-shirts of the Appalachian people who came to bring this concern to the people of New York, at an event this week. One young mother joined the fight when she saw her daughter standing among dead fish in the stream that runs behind her house. Our dear treasure, Jean Ritchie tells us that her property is threatened, as fill is used to build an access road, to continue the destruction of her community. There was a great deal of outrage, expressed on her behalf to the Governor of her state, and so, he is responding to the anger. He has named that road, "Jean Ritchie Road." Jean, have you a middle name, we might call you? Or better still, can we demand that this road be stopped and some already existing road, which brings music lovers to say, Asheville, be called after you instead?
Why should we care, from Seattle to New York? For thirty years the levels of mercury in our environment has been dropping. Since Mr. Bush has taken his blood money from King Coal, the mercury levels in the environment have risen six percent. Mercury, one of the most deadly poisons in our ecosystem, is released when coal is burned, as well as when it is mined. And so, the coal industry is not only poisoning fish in Appalachia, but they are poisoning fish in New York State, and in the blood of every American. The levels of mercury in the blood of many American woman is enough now to cause cognitive damage to their offspring. King Coal is not only killing the mountains of Appalachia, but destroying the future potential of our nation as well.
Jean deserves better than this road, not only for the rich treasure of her music, but for being a part of bringing this knowledge to us, as we sleep in ignorance here in New York. Maybe it would be more appropriate to name a road going to some great seat of learning after her. For generation bigots have referred to the hill folk of Appalachia as "ignorant hillbillies." Well, I was among the ignorant here in New York, that great Rome of the modern world. I did not understand how burning coal was filling my blood with mercury. Well, the sons and daughters of Appalachian miners and hill folks came to my city and gave me quite an education. Folks like Julia Bonds, who faced threats from the coal industry to come and teach us ignorant city folk a lesson every American voter should understand care about deeply.
My thanks to all the people who came to New York from Appalachia to tell me all the above, and to Bobby Kennedy, Jr., spoke eloquently to this issue as well. For more, go here... http://www.mountainjusticesummer.org/index.php and go here http://www.crmw.net/culture.php and then... do something.
All the best
Labels: Appalachia coal George W Bush