Mass Arrests in DC: We Shall No Longer Be Crucified Upon the Cross of Coal

by Jeff Biggers

Over one hundred protesters from the Appalachian coalfields were arrested in
front of the White House today, defiantly calling on the Obama
administration to abolish mountaintop removal mining. As part of the
Appalachia Rising events, the coalfield residents took part in a multi-day
series of events to bring the escalating human rights, environmental and
health care crisis to the nation's capitol.

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth leaders Teri Blanton and Mickey McCoy, the
first arrested in today's nonviolent act of civil disobedience, were joined
by allies from around the country, including NASA climatologist James
Meanwhile, protesters<>
by the legendary Rev. Billy Talen staged a nearby sit-in at the office of
the PNC bank, which remains one of the last major financiers of coal
companies engaged in this extreme form of strip-mining in Appalachia.

In a stark reminder of the national connection to the coalfields, the Obama
administration officials looked on from their White House offices, as
their electricity
came from a coal-fired plant
partly with coal stripmined from Appalachia.

As a litmus test of the administration's commitment to science and the rule
of law, Appalachian residents are calling on the EPA to halt any new permit
on the upcoming decision over the massive
removal mine.

Mountaintop removal coal only provides, in fact, less than 10 percent of all
coal production.

Fed up with the regulatory crisis and circumventions by outside coal
companies, coalfield residents have been rising up against reckless
strip-mining practices against the country, from
Alabama to Arizona.

In southern Illinois, scores of black crosses were found at coal mines,
strip mines, coal-fired plants, coal ash piles, and at the Southern Illinois
University Coal Research Center.

Citing Illinois as the birthplace of the coal industry, and "ground zero in
the Obama administration's plan to dangerously experiment with carbon
capture and storage technologies for coal-fired plants," a new Black Cross
Alliance campaign announced plans to construct symbolic black crosses at
coal mining and coal-burning landmarks in the state and across the nation to
serve as a public warning: It is no longer acceptable for the Obama
administration--and state and regional government officials---to be
complicit in maintaining deadly coal mining and coal-burning communities as
shameful national sacrifice areas in 2010.

Invoking William Jennings Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech, the Black Cross
Alliance called on the Obama administration and the state of Illinois to
halt billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for multinational coal
corporations, and bring an end to the scandalous coal wars in Illinois by
re-investing in a sustainable clean energy policy for the future for the
coalfield regions.

The Black Cross Alliance declared: You shall not crucify us any longer upon
a cross of coal.

"While the rest of the nation--and world--launches into the exploding new
global market of clean energy development and green jobs," the Black Cross
Alliance asked, "why have the coalfield regions in the country been left out
of the renewnable energy movement and slated for a new generation of
increased coal production?"

For more updates on Appalachia Rising, see: