Mountain Justice Spring Break and SAMS to hold "Hearing" at Abingdon DEQ Friday, Boucher in Blacksburg Saturday

Again, I'm having trouble uploading an image to Google at the Blacksburg Library. Until I can fix this glitch, go to Charlotteville cartoonist Jen Sorenson's (email) website and check out her stripmining cartoon, "Appetitle for Destruction."

My friend Marley wrote me from Mountain Justice Spring Break, asking friends of the mountains to come down to Abingdon, VA tomorrow and join them and Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS), Student Environmental Action Coalition, Southern Energy Networks and dozens of other organizations at 12:15 p.m. at the park across from the Barter Theatre (133 W. Main St.) to gather and march to the regional office of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), less than one mile away

as we hold our very own public hearing before the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to demand that they represent the interests of the people of Wise County and all of Virginia by opposing Dominion Power's Air quality permit for their proposed 585 Mega Watt, $1.8 billion, mountain leveling, commmunity poisoning, mega profit making, climate changing, Wise County Coal Fired Power Plant!
He continues,

This rally is in direct response to a recent hearing held by the DEQ in St. Paul, in which supporters of the plant, who received notices of the hearing in their pay stubs, (and may still have been on the clock!), intimidated local opponents, clogged up the sign up lists by being let in to the hearing early,
and repeated the tired myths that Dominion has fed to these communities: namely
that the proposed plant will be the economic salvation to a region that has been
chronically sucked dry by the extractive, exploitive and destructive coal
industry. We are asking for support and presence from anyone who has taken a
stand against this plant, whether its for the fact that it will contribute to a
rapidly warming global climate, or that it will poison streams and rivers from
Wise County to Winchester, Norfolk and points beyond. Perhaps its because this
plant will ensure another few decades of destructive mountaintop removal mining,
money fleeing Southwest Va, and communities living with only one option: destroy your mountains for coal or go somewhere else.

Yesterday at noon, according to my friend Willie of Blue Ridge EarthFirst!, approximately two dozen Mountain Justice activists visited a Bank of America in Boone North Carolina to protest the bank's funding of mountaintop removal coal mining and coal-fired power plants. It was the third bluegrass-themed protest in a week in which "Action Jackson," an Appalachian string band from EastTennessee staged a traditional fiddle and banjo jam inside a BoA branch while others rallied in opposition to Bank of America'sinvestments in coal. Willie writes that,

While the demonstration was underway, three....already present in the bank chose to close their accounts in protest, informing the branch assistant manager that theywould not allow their hard-earned money to destroy
Appalachiancommunities and ecosystems. After a few minutes police arrived on
thescene and briefly detained one protestor who was later releasedwithout arrest
or citation...For as long as Bank of America is fundingcoal we're going to keep
coming back," promised one of the musicians.
Meanwhile Saturday, Congressman Rick Boucher (D, VA9), who has suported MTR to date comes to Blacksburg Council Chambers on Saturday. Let's hope he hears lots of questions on that issue.

You can get information on how to help fight against the destruction of our mountains by writinginfo@mjsb.org, or calling Dana @ 276-475-3842. Also, check http://www.cleanenergyva.org/ about the March 12 deadline to write the DEQ and explain that, according to Marley's email

the people of Virginia do not want this plant, and that what we want is a clean energy future where people can feed their families AND protect their streams, mountains, air and environment.
Also, John Messer of Big Stone Gap, has a piece, The 3-Ms of environmental destruction, worth reading on the SAMS blog, today:

Myth, misinformation and manipulation are the only tools remaining in the arsenal of big business and their political enablers, in their continuing effort to stifle logic and reason. The overwhelming and growing awareness of environmental and social injustice issues relating to the coal fired power and
mountain top removal strip mining, is little more than a pest to those who will
go to any extent to maintain the status quo. The greatest myth being that so
called economic growth improves the quality of life of the masses, when in fact
it serves only the concentration of wealth at the top and the destruction of the
middle class. Truth is that in 1950 there were 143,000 employed coal miners in
West Virginia , today that number is down to 20,000, with an average annual
extraction of 170 million tons of coal since the year 2001. More than 60 million
tons of that result from mountain top removal. The recent DEQ hearings on the
proposed Virginia City power plant are prime examples of manipulation and
misinformation. The idea that without the construction of this plant, there will
be fewer coal mining jobs is absolutely absurd.... There is simply no
historical evidence that the core population of the coalfields has ever seen
long term benefit from modern destructive mining practices. The lion’s share of
profit has always and continues to go to large corporations that exist
elsewhere, while leaving behind economic and environmental devastation.