“Mountaintop Removal.” These two words spell heartache, misery, sickness and death for Americans living in the region known as central Appalachia. It’s a method of extracting coal, the single most toxic hydrocarbon on earth, and coal companies use nearly 3 million kilograms of poisonous high explosives per day to get it. Five hundred of the oldest mountains on earth have been destroyed and more than three thousand kilometers of streams have been buried to get this coal.
Mountaintop removal is a genuine human rights crisis unfolding in the United States. Peer-reviewed scientific reports show that mountaintop removal causes massive numbers of birth defects in the unborn, as well as cancer, heart disease, lung disease and other critical illnesses in people who live in Appalachia.
Mountaintop removal is a practice that cannot happen without global financial networks.As a ninth-generation Appalachian, I strenuously object to the poisoning of my friends, family, colleagues and community. Thus, I was profoundly honored to have the support and assistance of Les Amis de la Terre last month when I arrived in Paris to implore Credit Agricole and Societe Generale to stop financing the destruction of the place my ancestors, as well as my family in the present, have called “home.” These human rights abuses compelled my colleagues and I to found the Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act to address the problem.
Financial decisions do not occur in a vacuum. They do not happen without consequences. In the case of Appalachia, we pay with our very lives, and the health of our babies, for profit-driven financial decisions made in French bank towers. We object, and neither Coal River Mountain Watch, with whom I work in West Virginia, nor our allies at Les Amis de la Terre, are willing to accept such abuse, and choose instead to confront the abusers.
My schedule in Paris was quite harried, but Les Amis de la Terre had everything in order for my attendance at the Annual General Meetings of both Credit Agricole and Societe Generale.Armed in advance with all the evidence necessary to prove that these two French banks are actively involved in financing the poisoning of the people of an entire region, as well as the destruction of the oldest mountains in the world and the communities that inhabit them, we were able to directly confront these banks about their overt abuses of human rights. Never have I known such stirring moments!
Though my time in Paris was measured only in hours, having the support of Les Amis de la Terre in speaking truth to those in power at Credit Agricole and Societe Generale will live forever in my memory, and the story will be passed down in my family. We know, you see, that you are not simply and generally friends of the earth, but have proven, by courage shown in standing up to massive, intense, remorseless financial power, that you are OUR friends, that you are friends to the unborn of our region, to grandfathers who hope to walk the forests with their grandsons, to mothers who hope someday to become grandmothers, that you are, indeed, “Les Amis d’Appalachie,” and for that you are, in our minds, heroes, and friends always.
From blog: Les Amis de la Terre by adminbt on 2012-06-27 14:31:37