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Mountains of Love at the KY Capitol

February 17, 2009

Frankfort, KY – Kentuckians are making noise for the mountains today (Tuesday). It's "I Love Mountains Day," with at least 800 people marching to the State Capitol from the Kentucky River to call for an end to mountaintop removal coal mining.

This year's event focuses on the 1400 miles of streams buried or damaged by mountaintop removal over the past 30 years. These streams are the headwaters of drinking water supplies for one million people, says Teri Blanton, who helped organize the event for the group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

"We need to start thinking about diversifying our energy portfolio, and stop being dependent on blowing up our own homeland in order to turn on our lights."

The rally will also highlight the "stream-saver" bill now being considered by the Kentucky Legislature. HB 104 would put an end to destruction and fill-in of streams during mountaintop removal mining, while allowing the mining to continue, says Blanton.

"It's just simple. There are thousands of acres of flatland. They can keep their dirt and their soil on-site; they would just have to employ more people."

Hiring more people would raise mining costs, something companies say they can't do because of slim profit margins. Blanton argues that mining companies have been posting record profits and, with high unemployment rates in coal mining regions, the jobs would be a boost to the economy.

Mountaintop removal has been promoted as an efficient way to mine the maximum amount of coal. The cleared land is said to be suitable for development, and the effects on streams deemed negligible.

The event begins at 11:00 a.m. at the Kentucky River where Capitol Ave. crosses the river and intersects with Route 60. The march up Capitol Avenue begins at 11:30; a rally follows at noon on the Capitol steps.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - KY