Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tennessee, Maryland, and You

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," Appalachian in the heart and soul since the grand days of President Eisenhower! Mountains store the planet's magic deep within. We should be very mindful of that.

While on vacation, I had the rare opportunity to read the Washington Post. I don't read newspapers online, so if I'm not in the D.C. metro area, I don't do the Post.

There was an article in Sunday's Post, "Miners Boycott Tenn. over Alexander's Bill."

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) have jointly sponsored the Alexander-Cardin Appalachian Restoration Act, a bill that would hamper, if not shut down, the despicable practice of mountaintop removal mining.

For my readers from the Russian steppes, "mountaintop removal mining" is exactly what it sounds like: Giant bulldozers and dump trucks shear away whole mountains from the top down until they reach a seam of coal. They scoop up the coal and haul it away to power your dishwasher. What's left behind is buried streams, a flat wasteland indifferently sowed with foreign grass seed, and runoff pollution in existing streams and watersheds.

Big Coal loves mountaintop removal. Some miners love it too. They would be the ones who operate the bulldozers and dump trucks. Take away mountaintop removal, you take away jobs.

With that in mind, Big Coal and its mountaintop miners have organized a boycott of Tennessee's grand tourist attractions like Dollywood and (one presumes) Graceland. It appears that West Virginia and Kentucky miners love Dollywood and the Smoky Mountains.

Senator Alexander has expressed concern that much-needed tourist revenue may be yanked from his state.

What's to be done, then?

If you live near Tennessee, go for a visit. If you have discretionary money, spend it there.

If you live near Maryland, go for a visit. If you have discretionary money, spend it there.

If you do not live near either state, do a Google and try to find products that you can buy that are made in those states.

I also encourage you to send a snail-mail letter to the two distinguished senators sponsoring this bill. It's interesting to note that one is a Republican and the other a Democrat.

Senator Lamar Alexander
SD 455
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Benjamin L. Cardin
509 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Big Coal is a juggernaut every bit as powerful as Big Pharma. Okay, maybe we won't win. But let's peck away at this problem, first by writing inspirational notes to the sponsors of the Alexander-Cardin Appalachian Restoration Act, and second by spending money in Tennessee and Maryland.

There's nothing better than steamed hard shell Maryland crabs, but they're probably tough to pack and ship. So you could start here: at this site for Maryland stuff.

As for Tennessee, I myself draw the line at visiting Dollywood, so I'll be in your corner if you buy a bottle (or two) of Jack Daniels and a box (or two) of Little Debbie Snack Cakes.

Please pass these sentiments on to your friends and readers.


Goat Yoda said...

At last Sen. Alexander has it right- I had a chance to talk to him face to face once and he is quite the active listener.

Instead of Dollywood, why not come see me???!!! Besides, there's a big gathering down the road here this weekend (Gathering of the Tribes) and a great one for Oct. (see, so make plans- you can even park an RV up here now.

And I know all the 'good spots' anyway. :-) It just has to be- the word verification is 'booti'!

Alex Pendragon said...

Next they'll want to shut down North Korean political prison camps despite all the jobs THEY are providing starving North Koreans.....sheesh.......

Damn liberals!

Rick Loftus, M.D. said...

Anne Johnson, if I didn't already love you, I would now. Thank you for promulgating some good ol' fashioned American dirt-worshipping, tree-hugging values. As a Reclaiming member I think political activism is amongst the most powerful forms of Witchcraft there is.... Bless ya! I was planning to write my Senators to ask them to fight the Senate's current attempt to assassinate Obama's public health insurance option; I'll add these two letters to the pile....


I've been very aware of the mountaintop removal since i read an excellent article about it in vanity fair about 3 years made me cry..what they are doing and how it is ruining the water ways, land, and people...horrible

Sarita said...

I'd never heard of mountain top removal mining. It sound horrendous.

seabird10 said...

Anne, thanks for keeping this great story alive with your blog-voice. I'm a fairly recent transplant to the eastern Tennessee coalfields, having come here from the coal and uranium fields of western New Mexico in 2000.

Not long after moving here I joined hundreds of others in Tennessee to fight mountaintop removal mining and keep it from doing a number on Tennessee's mountains like it has done in other Appalachian states. I currently chair the Stripmine Issues Committee of Save Our Cumberland Mountains (

We need all the voices we can get! SOCM is a member group of The Alliance for Appalachia, an organization that grew out of a desire by a variety of social justice and environmental groups to work together to stop the mountaintop removal craziness.

We're really proud of Sens. Alexander and Cardin for introducing the Appalachian Restoration Act. Thanks for urging folks to write to them.

If you or any of your readers have not been to the website at, please check it out. There's a new video on the impacts of this disastrous mining method on the Eagan Community just northeast of me.

Thanks again for keeping all this in the public eye!