Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mountaintop removal in Romney

On Thursday, April 28th at 6 pm, three young staffers from the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation will talk about their efforts to stop the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining. The event will take place at the Hampshire County Public Library on Main Street in Romney, and is sponsored by the Hampshire County Independent Network.

All in their twenties, Junior Walk, Adam Hall and Amber Whittington grew up in the coal mining region of West Virginia. But when they reached adulthood, they began to recognize how removing entire mountaintops to get at the coal beneath was devastating the communities in which this practice occurred. They got involved with groups like Coal River Mountain Watch, and eventually joined the staff of the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation.

The foundation was organized by Larry Gibson, who has been the subject of many articles, documentaries and books, for his attempt to save his family home place on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia. All the land around him has been strip-mined, but Gibson refuses to leave the property where a family cemetery goes back 300 years.

Also being discussed at Thursday evening’s event is the upcoming March on Blair Mountain, which will commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain, where 10,000 coal miners fought against private coal company security, police and eventually the US Army, for the right to organize a union. It remains the largest civil insurrection in US history since the Civil War.

After Blair Mountain was, in a dubious process, removed from the National Register of Historic Places, and became a target of acquisition of both Massey and Arch coal companies, several groups, including the United Mine Workers, filed suit against the Secretary of the Interior to return Blair Mountain to the Register. That lawsuit is pending.

The March on Blair Mountain will take place in June, and will follow the route that the army of miners took in 1921. Marchers will start in Marmet WV on June 6th, and end up at Blair Mountain in Logan County on June 11th, where a final rally will be held. Details can be found at

The appearance in Hampshire County will be the first in a whirlwind weekend for the Keeper of the Mountains staffers, who will be speaking at events throughout the Eastern Panhandle, including on Saturday at the Stop the Kaboom music festival in Hedgesville (

Hampshire County Independent Network organizer Michael Hasty, who drafted the Hampshire County Commission resolution that established the Hampshire County Marcellus Committee—so far the only county advisory board on Marcellus gas issues in the state—and serves as committee secretary, will also be a featured speaker at the Stop the Kaboom festival. He will speak following the appearance of his folk trio, Michael & the Archangels, Saturday April 30 at 1 pm.

More information and biographical information about the speakers:

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