The Last Mountain: A Call to Action

The Last Mountain is a new documentary film detailing the gross environmental destruction of mountaintop removal [MTR] coal mining, featuring interviews with some of the activists most involved in trying to save the beautiful Appalachian mountains from King Coal.


The subject of MTR has been covered previously on this blog in a number of posts, including EPA Halts MTR Permits for Review, with information about EPA administrator Lisa Jackson’s attempt to slow the destruction – a task that has been less than successful due to the power of King Coal. Old King Coal vs. Reality talks about some of the legislative actions attempted by states impacted by MTR to prevent the continued destruction of mountains and entire watersheds – which have also been less than successful. Old King Coal, a Filthy Old Soul described some of the environmental horrors being visited upon the land, water and people of the Appalachian highlands by a coal mining method that has succeeded in eliminating 40,000 jobs for those same people while burying more than 2,000 miles of once pure mountain streams and flattening 500 mountains.

The film’s fine website includes links and outlines of ways you can help end mountaintop removal mining, something people even well outside the Appalachian region should support. We must not allow these most ancient and abundant mountains on earth to be utterly destroyed to serve the bottom line of criminal enterprises like Massey Energy – which racked up more than 60,000 environmental violations between 2000 and 2006 and criminal charges for violations leading to the explosion at its Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia that killed 29 miners in 2008.

It’s not easy to stand against King Coal. Just in the last two years more than 200 people have been arrested in civil disobedience protests just in West Virginia and Kentucky, two states that are suffering the bulk of destruction and the loss of more than a million acres of forest and dozens of towns. This extreme form of coal extraction has turned the coal fields of eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, eastern Tennessee and southwest Virginia into a moonscape of barren, toxic wasteland. What needs to happen, and needs to happen soon, is for so many people to make a stand that the unholy alliance of King Coal, state politicians on the take and law enforcement are forced to step aside.

Please see this film. Arrange a showing (can be done through the website) and invite all your friends and neighbors, maybe your co-workers and boss. Join or support some of the alliance groups that have supported the production of The Last Mountain. Some of these are listed and linked below.

If the Appalachians are destroyed for their coal thousands of homesteads will be destroyed along with them, along with the loving work all those homesteaders did to develop their little pieces of heaven on earth for themselves, their families, and all of us who are making the same effort in our own lives, wherever we are doing it. We all must stand with the people of Appalachia against the forces of destruction-for-profit. Thanks, Homesteaders! Let’s get together and end this outrage now, not later!

Alliance Links:

Appalachian Voices
I Love Mountains
Coal River Mountain Watch
Natural Resources Defense Council
Sierra Club
Waterkeeper Alliance
CREDO Action
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Facing a Pay Cut Emotionally and Financially

Paychecks are something you depend on. Whether you’re living from paycheck to paycheck or allocating funds for retirement, you’re hoping you’ll never be faced with less pay. Pay cuts can happen without warning and you might not be in the best position to quit your job. If you are looking for an answer to your conundrum, know that many people face the same situation and there are ways of handling your pay cut without losing hope.

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Planning For That Day

Find out the time frame of the pay cut so you can schedule your finances around the reduction accordingly. No one wants to plan his or her finances around receiving less pay in the long-term, but it’s better than being unprepared. For one, save as much money as possible within reason before your pay cut. Also, if you have a particular skill set that applies, look for freelance jobs or take on additional projects on the side to try to make up for the income you’ll be missing.

Spouses who aren’t employed or have a part-time position should take the opportunity to pursue full-time employment. [1] For emergency expenses, there are options such as finance, which will help to alleviate monetary concerns during a time of crisis.

What’s the Scope of the Cuts?

You may be receiving benefits, and if this is the case, you need to understand how much you stand to lose. The second biggest cost for many companies is their health care benefits, and this may be one of the places they make an additional cut. Even if you’re told that you must pay more for your coverage, take it. It also wouldn’t hurt to ask if everyone at the company is taking a salary hit, either. If you discover that only your department is being asked to make a sacrifice, perhaps you might want to consider looking for a new job–though you shouldn’t make this knowledge public. [2]

Get Rid of Some Expenses

The last thing you want is to be making less money and still have large, outstanding debts. Look carefully at your expenses and avoid unnecessary interest accruing by paying off negative balances as quickly as possible and refrain from accumulating any new debt. The average family spends half of their budget on transportation and housing. If this best describes your household, cut these expenses in half and you’ll have 25 percent more of your income to distribute how you see fit. [1]

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

It’s hard to disassociate your self worth from the number on your paycheck, but you’ll have to try. Instead of considering yourself as a depreciating asset to the company, think of your position as an evolving one and your pay merely represents your skill set’s market value. This perspective helps to make the reduction in your pay less personal and helps remove some of the emotional pain involved. [3] When you move to a new job, you should be honest about receiving less pay and paint it in a realistic scenario so your future employer will understand. For instance, if your company was downsizing, it would make sense for you to take a pay cut. [2, 3]

Come Out on Top

If you are asked to endure a cut in your pay, negotiate a fair deal in which you can possibly receive additional time off. A reduction in pay should warrant less time spent on the job, though you shouldn’t expect your employer to pay you for this time. You may still not be making money from the deal, but you certainly will be earning valuable time to do other things instead. Of course, if you do work for a company going through pay cuts and you still work the same number of hours, they’ll remember your loyalty. [2]


You may be dealing with a great deal of stress during this time, but you may have more control over the situation than you may think. Time is one of the most important factors when negotiating and reevaluating your new pay. Lastly, you should never feel like your employer, no matter how willing they are to accommodate your needs, is cheating you.


[1] http:/

EPA Halts MTR Permits for Review

The ‘Breaking News’ headline at the anti-mountaintop removal website I Love Mountains brings tears to the grateful eyes of we lovers of these ancient, beautiful and abundant mountains…


Hope renewed across the Appalachian coalfields – Obama Administration suspends mountaintop removal permits for further review…

Obama’s new EPA administrator Lisa Jackson announced this past Tuesday that the agency would be delaying somewhere between 150 and 250 permits issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers to coal companies to flatten mountains and destroy watersheds in their desperate quest to extract the last of the sequestered coal with as few paid miners as possible.

What the EPA will be reviewing are blatant violations of clean water regulations former President G.W. Bush waived in his 2002 “fill rule” and a last days repeal of the stream buffer zone rule that would allow coal companies to ignore any and all impacts of the water supplies of rural residents, towns and cities dependent upon these mountain streams for drinking water supplies.

The map above (h/t Appalachian Voices) shows graphically how open strip mines and MTR directly affects the very poorest regions of Appalachia. One might suspect that these areas are happy to have the good jobs these operations offer, but the reality is that this kind of mining is equipment-reliant, done with machines and not men. For instance, King Coal once provided 120,000 decent paying jobs in West Virginia, but now fewer than 20,000 citizens call themselves coal miners. The people whose environment is being raped are getting nothing of value out of the deal. And may indeed be harmed significantly as their water supplies are systematically polluted, sickening their crops, livestock and families.

As reported on this blog in several posts linked below, some of the people in these poor counties have better ideas about what to do with their mountains, things that will improve everyone’s life, make them leaders in clean, renewable energy supplies, and create green jobs for local residents. Especially check out projects like Coal River Wind, which proposes to harvest the wind instead of the mountain itself.

Another great article with good links and pictures is Hope is Alive in Appalachia!!! by Kossack ‘faithfull’. So get off your duff – call some legislators, sign some petitions, and spread some love of mountains in your circle today!


Old King Coal vs. Reality
Hope is Alive in Appalachia!!!
Old King Coal, a Filthy Old Soul
Coal River Wind
I Love Mountains

Old King Coal vs. Reality

Patriot Coal,West Virginia, Feb. 13: A federal appeals court in Charleston, West Virginia, has ruled that the US Army Corps of Engineers may permit coal companies involved in the controversial and environmentally destructive practice of “Mountaintop Removal” mining to bypass the Clean Water Act rules in its permitting process.

The rules had required environmental impact studies and reviews prior to permitting the coal companies to blast the tops off ancient mountains and using the debris to fill in valleys, a practice that destroys mountain feeder streams, diminishes supply and pollutes the water supplies for towns and cities downstream. An excellent overview of the situation and local efforts to stem the tide of destruction can be found in this diary by Bruce Nilles on the political website Daily Kos.

One of the mountains immediately threatened by this ruling is Coal River Mountain, one of the last mountains still standing in West Virginia’s Coal River Valley. A local coalition, Coal River Wind Farm has developed an excellent alternative to destroying the mountain and watershed that will return economic value to the area, jobs to the residents and power to the grid all at the same time. Do check them out and lend your voice to their efforts to convince WV state officials to choose alternatives to King Coal and the filth he leaves in his wake.

A new campaign is currently in the works between the Waterkeeper Alliance and environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to fight the ongoing destruction of Mountaintop Removal, to be called “The Dirty Lie.” Stay tuned for links and information here as soon as the website’s up and going.

North Carolina, Feb. 14: Meanwhile, efforts by environmentalists in North Carolina have been targeting the mighty behemoth Duke Energy and its CEO James Rogers to protest the building of yet another coal-fired power plant in the mountainous southwestern part of the state.Anti-coal activists in NC have also been holding the line in the state legislature against the purchase and burning of coal from Mountaintop Removal in any of the state’s coal-fired power plants and industries. The proposed restrictions were shelved again in the last session, but supporters are active to get a positive vote this year. Environmentalists in Georgia have introduced similar legislation to ban coal from this source, and in Ohio has suspended the building of new coal plants altogether.

So progress is being made even though Old King Coal is still trying as hard as he ever did to turn the whole world black. So stay tuned, concerned lovers of the land, we’ll be seeing a lot more about these battles in the near future, and all of them will need our support!


Is America Ready to Quit Coal?
Bill aims to outlaw coal mined by removing mountaintops
Georgia to Ban Mountaintop Removal Coal?
Coal River Wind Farm
Waterkeeper Alliance
Appeals court overrules new mountaintop mine rules