Mr. President:

I am sure you are aware of this editorial by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

It outlines what you can do immediately to enforce existing law and regulation and end the travesty of mountaintop removal coal mining, and touches on the consequences it has had for the people of the southern coal fields.

I am a West Virginia native who left in 1978 to attend the University of Chicago and have only this year returned.   West Virginia, the only state completely within Appalachia, has suffered the fate of a third-world country for a century.  Even though coal mining is now a much smaller part of our economy, the coal companies do not have to pay the full cost of extracting the coal, and can spend a great deal on politicians and judges to keep it that way.

I was shocked by the conditions in the South Side of Chicago when I moved there; the southern coal fields of West Virginia are more shocking, because the people can be helped only if the land is not irretrievably destroyed.  Please go and visit southern West Virginia.  Visit the grade school threatened by sludge.  Fly over the devastated mountains.  Visit a “restored” mountaintop mine and listen to the silence of a destroyed ecosystem.  Walk the streets of the communities.  Then go visit the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Greenbank, in the heart of the untouched mountains, and see what was and could be.


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