The Rape of Appalachia
Earlier this month, Ashley Judd gave a luncheon speech at the National Press Club.
Judd is an actress.
A recent graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School.
And an activist.
Judd wants to defeat the coal industry’s practice of blowing the tops off of mountains.
Judd spoke passionately about her love for Appalachia – she grew up in eastern Kentucky.
And her disgust with the coal industry’s practice of mountaintop removal.
Blasting off the tops of mountains to get at a seam of coal.
Judd called it the “rape of Appalachia.”
She called it “environmental genocide.”
“The Appalachian Mountains are the oldest in North America,” Judd told the reporters at the National Press Club on June 9, 2010. “They are indeed so old geologists rather poetically, I think, call them deep time. They may well be the oldest mountains in the entire world. I am here to tell you, mountaintop removal coal mining simply would not happen in any other mountain range in the United States. It is utterly inconceivable that the Smokies would be blasted, the Rockies razed, the Sierra Nevadas flattened, that bombs the equivalent to Hiroshima would be detonated every single week
for three decades.”
“The fact that the Appalachians are the Appalachians makes this environmental genocide possible and permissible.”
But then Judd said something that proved she has spent very little time inside the beltway.
“By the end of our time together here today, I hope you will commit your journalistic integrity to stop mountaintop removal immediately,” Judd said.
Wait a second.
Did you say “journalistic integrity”?
Ashley, get a grip.
There is no journalist integrity here inside the beltway.
And just to prove the point, the National Press Club just sent you a message.
Haven’t heard yet?
Not only are we not going to join your campaign to fight mountaintop removal.
We’re going to invite your worst nightmare to speak here less than two months after you spoke here.
Guess who’s coming to lunch at the National Press Club on July 22, Ashley?
You got it.
Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.
You want to protect the mountains Ashley?
We’ll bring in the guy who’s blowing them up.
CEO of the number one mountaintop removal corporation in America.
CEO of the company under federal criminal investigation for the deaths of 29 coal miners on April 5 at a Massey mine in Raleigh County.
There are a group of activist reporters who are campaigning against Massey.
They’ve set up a web site – prosecutemassey.org – that is calling on citizens to sign a petition to the Raleigh County prosecutor to bring a manslaughter prosecution against Massey and the responsible executives for the deaths of those 29 coal miners.
But as for the mainstream reporters who govern the National Press Club, you were barking up the wrong tree there, Ashley.
Instead of campaigning against mountaintop removal, they do the opposite.
They’ll host Don Blankenship.
Just to stick it to ya.
So that Blankenship can continue to spin his web of deceit.
To try to get out from under any criminal prosecution.
To counter your speech from earlier this month.
To undermine your campaign against mountaintop removal.
So that he can continue his reckless operation of his underground coal mines.
To undermine federal law enforcement.
And to continue his dominance of the political and cultural landscape in which he operates.
This ain’t Kentucky, Ashley.
And it ain’t Harvard.
This here is inside the beltway.
Did you say integrity?
RUSSELL MOKHIBER is editor of Corporate Crime Reporter.