As we headed south from Charleston, the capital of West Virginia, to meet with Larry Gibson, the Mountain Keeper, we passed a billboard saying" West Virginia Coal, the Real Power behind America." We were about to find out how powerful King Coal really is in West Virginia. Larry's family has lived for 250 years on Kayford Mountain (37°58'), and he has become a guiding force in the battle to stop the surface coal mining known as Mountain Top Removal.
Larry called coal "the most barbaric form of energy known to man." Over 1.5 MILLION acres on 51 mountains have been stripped and flattened in West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee in the last 20 years. You can fly for FIVE HOURS over the devastation.
Larry started telling people about Mountain Top Removal in the 1980s, figuring back then that once people saw what was going on, it would immediately stop. Twenty years later, his fearless dedication to the mountains in the face of intimidation from Big Coal and many personal threats, is truly an inspiration.
Tomorrow, Dave and I plan to join Larry and a group of local senior citizens on a protest walk to a mine site.