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
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Dan Bacher
The Big Corporate Money Behind Jerry Brown
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: Anna Magdalena Rediscovered
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail