We’re sitting right in the heart of the coalfields, in Blair, WV, and we need your and everyone else’s help to stop mountaintop removal right now, as well as to protect the historic Blair Mountain battlefield. If people are serious about moving beyond coal or stopping it, it can and should happen right here in central Appalachia.
It’s not an understatement to say that Blair, in Logan County, is the one of the primary centers of our energy policy in America and the world. So much history, both good and bad, is right here. I can look out my door and see Pigeonroost Hollow, where the largest permit ever applied for was denied by the EPA. Right up the road is Buffalo Creek, where in 1972 a coal slurry dam busted and killed 125 people. And maybe most famous is the Blair Mountain battlefield, where in 1921 the largest labor uprising in US History occurred. Although Appalachia is often marginalized, we are truly at the center of energy production.
Logan County has been the coal operators’ stronghold for over 120 years. The current governors’ whole powerbase is right here in Logan. Arch Coal’s main showcase mine, Mountain Laurel, is right down the road. If people are serious about moving beyond coal or stopping it, it can and should happen right here. Right now, Arch Coal is trying to buyout the rest of the town of Blair, and we are working against this as hard as we can. We have already taken some large steps, in establishing a Community Center and Museum in the town of Blair, which is one move towards creating a new future here.
We are a grassroots organization based in Blair West Virginia. Our board consists of academics, a noted Appalachian film producer, a noted Appalachian human rights advocate, a retired coal miner, an active coal industry worker, a former president of a UMWA local, a schoolteacher, and many local residents. Our breadth of experience, and our on the ground presence makes us the group who can best challenge the coal companies in Logan. The support by the community of Blair is very strong, as they have already been through one bout of mountaintop removal. In addition, our bottom-up decision-making processes – especially around financial matters – ensures that any money donated is decided by consensus among community members where it goes. Your money will directly impact and help improve our operations here in Blair.
Our groups’ main effort is to preserve the Blair Mountain battlefield, which is threatened by encroaching mountaintop removal mining operations, as well as to stop the practice of mountaintop removal throughout Appalachia. But, our concerns are much more than saving the battlefield, it is also about drawing on the heritage of the solidarity of coalminers who fought in the 1921 battle. At that time, a worker army composed of hillfolk, Italians, blacks, Hungarians, Germans, and many other peoples formed together for a common cause. Currently, we work to build solidarity that transcends normal lines; we have already formed ties with activists from Columbia and India. We have brought together coal miners and environmentalists, and we’ll continue to struggle in our everyday work to build unity and solidarity to address all of our common struggles.
On a day-to-day basis, we want to monitor the surrounding strip mine operations, and to accumulate evidence that our water is being poisoned. We want to be a constant thorn in their side, and we want to ensure that people in Blair have the adequate living, health, and environmental standards everyone should have.
By Focusing in Blair, in the heart of coal operator hegemony, and at the Arch Coal showcase mine, our work will directly challenge the viability of a capital intensive operation. By making them aware of our monitoring and presence, we can really make them change in ways they operate, and will help make it unprofitable for them to run roughshod over us. More constructively, we can help develop Blair along alternative/local economic lines where the people who live here can dream and plan their own future. That is something that has been lacking for so long here, but we are bringing it back, and we’ll keep doing it with your help.
There are a number of ways to help out. Spread the word, and if you can donate a little to help our struggle. It’d be greatly appreciated here in Blair.
For checks or money orders, you can mail to:
Friends of Blair Mountain
PO Box 21
Blair, WV 25022
For electronic donations, or just for more info about the situation at Blair Mountain:
We also have a fundraiser campaign going, if that suits your personal ethics, maybe it’ll be worth checking out: http://www.indiegogo.com/The-Start-of-A-New-Beginning?a=70932
Executive Director, Friends of Blair Mountain