FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

What Do Ironman Triathlons and Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Have in Common?

by KARYN STRICKLER

My 17-year-old son does not have to go to bed at night fearing that he will be burned out of his home and bed because I am working against MTR.  I’m not going to be run off the road, my truck overturned and left to my fate because of my activism.  I am not a 12-year-old girl who will die of ovarian cancer.  I’m not a baby who will be born with a birth defect that will follow me for the rest of my life, because I happened to be born in an MTR region.  My children are not in the path of a 9-billion gallon dump that holds back the toxic byproduct of MTR, by means of an earthen dam.  I can drink my water and not worry that it will ruin my health or kill me.

That is precisely what happens to people who live in mountaintop removal regions.  Those reminders of the difficulties of those living in MTR regions help me to realize that I may be facing a monumental task with my attempt at an Ironman, but it could be much worse.

That is why, when my friend Bo Webb asked me to dedicate my Ironman to helping to raise money for the Appalachian Community Health Emergency (ACHE) Act, I was honored and happy to help.  So, I’ll run the ChesapeakeMan Endurance Festival USATMA Ultra Championship Triathlon on Sept. 21, 2013 pass the ACHE Act.  The ACHE Act team will continue their heroic work to pass the Act.

According to a press release by the ACHE Act team, a growing body of scientific studies demonstrates that mountaintop removal is a human health crisis.  For example, babies in mountaintop removal areas are 42% more likely to be born with birth defects. In comparison, maternal smoking increases the risk by 18%.  A 2011 study found that residents of the Coal River Valley of West Virginia are more than twice as likely to have cancer as a community without mountaintop removal. West Virginia has pockets of childhood asthma with rates as high as 25%, three times the national average, a likely consequence of the dust and chemical residue released by mountaintop removal blasting.

The mountaintop removal process begins with clear-cutting the forest. Coal companies then use over 5 million pounds of explosives per day to blast the mountains of Central Appalachia into rubble. Over a million acres of mountains have been impacted.  ACHE coordinator and West Virginia resident Bo Webb said, “With coal operators detonating the daily equivalent of 4,000 cruise missiles above our communities, it’s no wonder that the people are sick and dying.  We need the ACHE Act to protect us, and we appreciate Karyn’s heroic support for the cause.”

Responding to the pleas of regional residents, Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced the ACHE Act in Feb. 2013.  The Act, HR 526, requires the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to conduct or support comprehensive studies on the health impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining on individuals in the surrounding communities. During the period of the health study the ACHE Act also prohibits authorization for any new mountaintop removal coal mining projects (or expansion), under the Clean Water Act or the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, until and unless the Secretary of Health and Human Services publishes a determination that such mining does not present any health risk to individuals in the surrounding communities.

Karyn Strickler is a political scientist, grassroots organizer, electoral and advocacy campaign expert.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
Graham Peebles
Ethiopian’s Crying out for Freedom and Justice
Robert Koehler
Stop the Killing
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Of Dog Legs and “Debates”
Yves Engler
The Media’s Biased Perspective
Victor Grossman
Omens From Berlin
Christopher Brauchli
Wells Fargo as Metaphor for the Trump Campaign
Nyla Ali Khan
War of Words Between India and Pakistan at the United Nations
Tom Barnard
Block the Bunker! Historic Victory Against Police Boondoggle in Seattle
James Rothenberg
Bullshit Recognition as Survival Tactic
Ed Rampell
A Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits
Kristine Mattis
Persnickety Publishing Pet-Peeves
Charles R. Larson
Review: Helen Dewitt’s “The Last Samurai”
David Yearsley
Torture Chamber Music
September 22, 2016
Dave Lindorff
Wells Fargo’s Stumpf Leads the Way
Stan Cox
If There’s a World War II-Style Climate Mobilization, It has to Go All the Way—and Then Some
Binoy Kampmark
Source Betrayed: the Washington Post and Edward Snowden
John W. Whitehead
Wards of the Nanny State
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail