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Rally: View of Mountains from Frankfort Isn't Pretty

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February 15, 2012

FRANKFORT, Ky. - More than 1,000 people turned out Tuesday at the state Capitol to oppose mountaintop removal mining and to push for clean-energy legislation as part of the annual "I Love Mountains" rally.

Teri Blanton, a fellow with the group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, says the toll taken by strip mining runs deep in Kentucky.

"Six-hundred thousand acres of some of the most diverse hardwood forests in the world, destroyed forever, reduced to rubble. We have pollution into our waters, the heavy metal that used to be encased in the earth is now flowing down our creeks and into our rivers and back through our faucets."

Recent case studies, Blanton says, have shown the tremendous impact of strip mining on the health of Kentuckians - including 60,000 additional cancer cases in the mine-heavy Appalachian region.

"Also in the latest studies was a 40-some percent increase in birth defects in Kentucky alone from being exposed to mountaintop removal in their communities."

Solutions to the problem are multi-faceted, Blanton says. One involves an investment in clean energy in Kentucky. Another is House Bill 231, known as the "Stream Saver" bill.

"It says you do not dump any mining waste in any stream in the state of Kentucky, and we want the workers of today, the people that have been producing energy for our nation, to be a part of this new energy revolution."

The coal industry's view is that mountaintop mining is a generous source of jobs for Kentucky, and provides a safer work environment for miners compared with underground mines. But demonstrators cite alternatives - and say 10,000 jobs could be created if House Bill 167, the Clean Energy Opportunity Act, becomes law in Kentucky.

Texts of HB 231 and HB 167 are available online, in Word document form.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - KY