Movie Star Misses the Mark on Mining

“This opinion piece was sent to us by many people who support the coal industry. We thought it was important to post. We have also posted a link here to Ashley’s actual speech at the National Press Club so that you can hear own her words.” Mari-Lynn Evans

Although Judd is only a marginal celebrity, I can attest to her acting talents. On three separate occasions during her well-rehearsed speech at the National Press Club, she produced tears to emphasize her indignation over coal companies “rape of Appalachia.” The apparent emotion was as moving as it was misplaced.

In fact, Judd has misidentified the victims. It’s the miners, not the mountains, whose plight merits a Hollywood spokeswoman. President Obama is waging a war on coal that threatens to devastate whole communities.

Two months ago, the Environmental Protection Agency established new regulations that would outlaw future MTR operations in order to protect a short-lived insect. To put it another way, the EPA is trading jobs for bugs.

Judd referenced this regulatory crackdown when she asked the audience to write to the EPA and demand that it shut down the Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, W.Va. Judd claims to oppose MTR on behalf of “mountain people.” But when I heard from citizens of Logan County, they had entirely differently ideas about energy policy.

To Ashley Judd, the Spruce No. 1 Mine is an “environmental genocide.” To Diane Kish, a fourth generation West Virginian from Logan County, it’s the source of 260 jobs paying an average $62,500 salary. Kish was one of many “mountain people” who testified at an EPA public hearing about the Spruce No. 1 Mine on May 18 at the Charleston Civic Center. She asked the EPA to “give us back our permit. Let us smile. Les us raise our families.”

Of course, coal miners also gave testimony, but so did a number of entrepreneurs whose businesses depend on the coal industry. After noting that property taxes from coal mines contribute millions of dollars to local education, Logan County School Superintendent Wilma Zigmond concluded, “Coal keeps the lights on and our schools running.”

Judd would have you believe that these testimonials in support of MTR are the result of the coal companies’ “denial, sleight of hand, and incessant propaganda.” According to Judd, there’s a conspiracy afoot, whereby “industries are kept out [of Appalachian states] by coal company collusion to keep people dependent on coal.” This is, of course, a fantasy.

Unfortunately, it’s a dangerous fantasy. The political impetus for the EPA’s crackdown on MTR doesn’t originate from “mountain people,” but instead from “Huffington Post-people,” whose passions are flamed by know-nothing celebrities like Ashley Judd. Thanks to Judd’s anti-coal agitprop, President Obama has the political cover to forsake Appalachian livelihoods.

Human Events – Guest Editorial by William Yeatman – June 14, 2010
William Yeatman is an energy policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute

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24 Responses to Movie Star Misses the Mark on Mining

  1. Citizen Harry says:

    The EPA is not out to take away jobs. A line like that just goes to show the mentality of the writer. Obama is not out to destroy Appalachia for money… the corporations are.

    Coal is unsustainable, dirty, and kills. Get over it. It’s time to replace coal with alternatives. This is the same old story, rewrite history and make a bad guy out of the “Environs.” Did you ever think about that word? It’s like when Fox news started calling Democrats “Dems”. It’s just a nasty way to demean someone without being too blatant about it. I feel sorry for anyone who believes this sort of crap. I know there are lot’s of miners that are deeply disturbed about their working conditions, and believe me, coal mining is no walk in the park for 60k a year.


    Citizen Harry

    • Randy Maggard says:

      I’ve been quite for sometime but comments from Ashley Judd cut right through me . She supposedly grew up in the same town as I did. When she was here she was just a spoiled brat. Now she lives on her big farm in Nashville and is married to a racecar driver…in fact I saw a photograph of her kissing the brick at the racetrack…… Is her husband buying ” Carbon Credits for all the fuel he uses driving around in circles?
      Enough said…How’s that Citizen Harry? Miss Me ?


  2. bo webb says:

    Edward Morris, If you are a West Virginian (are you?) then shame on you for spouting the same rhetoric that the coal baron has spouted for more than a hundred years. Every time the coal industry has ever been forced to follow regulations they have cried like little whimpering puppies that they are under attack and that miners jobs are at stake. The PEOPLE that live beneath these mtr sites are the ones under attack! My Dad and my Grandfather, all my Uncles, Cousins were and are Coal Miners. People blasting our mountains and scooping coal up with a bulldozer, loading it into trucks are demolition crews. And demolition jobs are temporary. Demolition workers are used to moving job to job, state to state. Enough mountains have been blown up in WV, move on to another demolition job in another state and stop blasting our homes and putting our lives in jeopardy with fly rock, boulders, silica dust, and mud floods. We’ve had enough. I don’t care about your 60 k per year. You should be forced to pay 60% of that back to the communities you are taking part in destroying.

    • Eddie says:

      Mr. Webb,
      1st- if you read the article you would have seen who wrote it-
      2nd- Yes I am a true West Virginian, who is a 3rd generation miner who pays taxes and supports those who do not work, so I am paying back to the communities. Where are you from?, and do you work?
      3rd- Those people who live in the area of MTD’s (Mountain Top Development) 90% of them support the mines, miners and our way of life. (Majority rule)

      God put the coal in the ground so that we may have ELECTRICITY, steel and other products that is derived from coal. He also gave us the ability and know how to safely remove it. Do you use electricity? If yes, your welcome… It would not be so bad if the protesters stated the facts, but they lie, misinform and use scare tactics to intimidate their weak minded followers.

      If you want to do something productive for the environment, go to the gulf and pick up tar balls of the beach instead of trying to make WV a third world country.

      • Citizen Harry says:

        It’s so weird to me that you would say these things. If you would lay down your anger, and try to see both sides of the issue, you might see things differently. The issue is not black and white, and we that oppose MTR are not the way you continue to paint us.

        We’re not against miners, or jobs. We are part of your community, and the same nation you belong to. We are patriots, and care deeply about the mountains, our brothers and sisters, and the future.

        God put a lot of things in the ground… lava, poisonous gases, diamonds, and uranium, too. And it’s been all been used for good and evil. It’s not the substance, it’s the way man uses it. Coal has been a very important part of the growth of our world, electricity, manufacturing, jobs, etc. But iron gave way to steel, horses gave way to cars, vinyl gave way to 8 track, 8track gave way to cassettes, and cassettes gave way to CD’s. Now digital downloads have begun to take over CD’s, and finally we have a way to hear music without manufacturing materials that end up in landfills. It’s all wonderful, and coal partly made it all possible. We all appreciate that fact, just as we appreciated each and every improvement throughout human evolution… from a stone spearhead, to landing on the moon. Gasoline powered cars will give way to alternative fuels, and coal will give way as well. The most powerful thing in our solar system was made by God, too. The Sun. And it doesn’t need to be dug up from the ground, or blasted off the top of a mountain. Why is wanting to move towards these things so horrible to you?

        We are advocates of change. Coal is killing us, as well as helping us. The by-products, health issues, and danger to miners are not sustainable. The first thing we are asking for is a stop to MTR, for obvious reasons… yes, that is something that we have to stop immediately. Coal fired plants, etc., has to take some time to move beyond, but it’s possible pretty quickly. But you have to realize that it will ultimately not hurt jobs in Appalachia, and improve our country. It’s a change in the hearts of people that needs to happen first. We have to become a country that thinks about the energy we use, and become conservative in the way we use it. The demand for coal can be reduced, and alternative energy is very possible. So please don’t paint us as being anti-miners, anti-Appalachia, and anti-American. We’re not. When people waste, and have a mindset of using energy without repercussions, we all are in trouble. Big trouble. And it’s all here right now.

        Please don’t call us weak minded, or imply that we have, or are “followers”. Every person I know that has adopted a more caring stance about the energy they use has made the decision by themselves when presented with the facts. Sure there are a lot of people who are on the left or right of the issue. I agree with that. I’ve met people from so called “environmental” organizations that are self-centered, and don’t think about the people that they make their livelihoods “representing”, and act like corporate morons. I’m sick of both sides of this sort of thing. Coal companies intimidating their employees, and making threats, as well as “environmental” organizations that have their own agendas that also continue to paint the world as black and white, and make it difficult to come to the table for honest discussions. I do not support things like ELF, or anyone that uses violence, intimidation, or threats to assist their agenda.

        And your comment on the “tar on the beach”, that is the exact same thing we’re talking about here. “Tar on the beach” is a fine example of why we can’t continue trying to get energy this way anymore. It’s not worth it. The amount of oil that is produced by these extremely dangerous practices is just not worth the human and environmental tragedy that it can cause. There is the same “tar on the beach” from coal. Sometimes it’s microscopic in size, and floats in the air, way outside of Appalachia. Sometimes it’s in the waters that turn black. Sometimes it’s as large as the destruction of a mountain top.

        All we are saying is that we must stop the critical areas of destruction, like MTR, and move towards conservation, and away from corporate greed that pays off politicians, and intimidates miners and their families. We did it before when we threw all the British tea into Boston Harbor. I am from Appalachia, and I understand your pride. I have a picture of what I always considered my own personal mountain that I used to look at outside my bedroom window when I grew up. If it were being threatened by MTR, I would be the first one to fight it on that ground. I don’t live near Kayford Mountain, but I can do whatever I can to help educate everyone on why we should change our policies, and fight in our own way to support ALL those who live there. Miners and locals alike.

        If you really work within the coal industry, you know that miners routinely are afraid to speak out about violations, because of intimidation by the corporation. In April, at the Upper Big Branch mine, people died because of it. If you are afraid to speak anything but that which supports the company’s image, you are living a life similar to Germans in Nazi Germany. In this country we should be free to speak out. It takes guts to speak out when you are being threatened. Why are we being threatened? Money, power, and greed. It’s that kind of thinking that keeps us in the dark age of pollution, and violence.

        It’s not me that is turning Appalachia into a third world country. We’d like to see it come alive again with more than explosions, and the forceful rape of nature. It’s time to move into the future, Eddie.

        Citizen Harry
        Proud Appalachian from Pennsylvania

      • bo webb says:

        Eddie, I am 6th generation on my family’s place. My grandkids are the 8th generation here. Born and raised in Raleigh County.
        My Dad, Grandfathers, all my Uncles, many many cousins were and still are COAL MINERS. (Underground) I’m a retired business person. I am totally opposed to mountaintop removal and you should be too. First off, you are totally wrong with your 90% claim. Show me the documented data. I am very active in my mtr community and I can tell you that 90% is closer to those that oppose this destructive practice. Several polls have been taken around the state and nation and the overwhelming majority of West Virginians are opposed to mtr. Check it out, Here is one such poll.

        There are other poll that have been taken as well, in the Huntington Herald Dispatch and even the coal friendly Logan Banner. same, similar results.

        You sir, are not giving anything back to WV by practicing in destroying it. It has been drummed into you since birth to be a “friend of coal” at all costs. Government studies (the EIM report) clearly conclude that coal in WV will be mined no more than another 25 years due to unattainable price competition with Western states. Blasting our mountains down, poisoning and eliminating our mountain communities is not giving anything back. It seems to me that mtr is a clear signal that the coal industry is scrapping the bottom of the barrel. You need to wake up and look around.
        Did you know that the gentleman that wrote the classic “Amazing Grace” was once a slave owner. Read the words to the song, you can change too.

  3. walt says:

    Yes Harry, my misguided friend the EPA is out to take jobs away. They are falling in line with Obama and his agenda, which is to lead this country toward socialism.

    Thank you Mr. Morris for a accurate and insightful article.

  4. Wild Elephant says:

    There’s a real foul odor here… smell it? Maybe it comes from someone who’s been hiding without a shower since April 5th under a big rock. I guess he feels it’s safe to come out now that the media has cooled down a bit. But elephant’s never forget.

  5. Mari-Lynn says:

    I guess it is true that you cannot get a person to understand an issue if his job depends on him not understanding. I think it is clear from these comments that dialogue is not happening and it appears it will not. Maybe this is an issue where there is no compromise.

    • Randy Maggard says:


      Your statement seems to be the quote that was said by Judy Bonds in your film but it could just as easily been changed to ” you cannot get a person ( gender neutral ) to understand an issue if HER ( gender specific )job depends on HER ( gender specific ) not understanding.
      Alot of people on the anti-coal side are being PAID and been rewarded for their anti-coal promotion.
      Do you really thing your sponsors would have given you all that money to show a pro-coal film.
      Please consider your statement can swing both ways.

      Do you want to inform ” Citizen Harry ” who you are related to that has made comments on this blog?

      When I make my statements I don’t hide behind “nicknames or other terms like Wild Elephant or Citizen Harry. If I make a statement I will use my real name and everyone knows what I look like and how I feel from the film.
      I was willing to comprise and invited you onto our mine site and into my life and introduced you to several of my friends and family members and what did get me……….in to debates with people like “Citizen Harry”

      Just a few thoughts,
      Token Coal Guy
      Randy Maggard

      • Admin says:

        I know of no relation to Mari-Lynn from Citizen Harry or Wild Elephant. Given the threats, name calling, and intimidation efforts outside this blog, I don’t doubt that some choose to use alias names, however. There is also the issue of reverse debunking… where a person from one side or another uses an alias to make the group they feign to belong to look bad, and create a one sided discourse.

        Here in my town, right wing conservatives painted graffiti on a public downtown building that looked like it came from left wing activists that opposed a new toll road going smack dab through a national forest here. I know the people who were opposing it, and they did not do the graffiti. It’s the oldest ploy in the book.

        The coal industry’s poster boy “Walt” posts here regularly without laying out his real name.

        Let’s stop all the name calling, and unfounded accusations, or I’ll stop posting dialogue, and make this a blog only about news from both sides, as I’ve tried to do.

        • Admin says:

          On second thought, I’m sorry I brought up anything about halting the blog comments. I’m truly sorry for being emotional about what you brought up, Randy. All posts can be seen here, unedited, as they truly are, and that is priceless. Blog away everyone! The more the merrier! Keep up the unfounded accusations, name calling, and agendas. Keep up the defending, the integrity, and the willingness to defend your opinion. This IS America. A higher power sees all. Truth shines.

        • Walt says:

          What about when the democratic offices in Denver were vandalized? Liberals were the first to accuse the republicans for the dirty deeds, but a democratic worker was found to have been guilty of the crime.

          It appears this ploy works for all.

  6. walt says:

    Harry and Bo

    Since you both continue to spread lies, mislead and intimidate (preaching that the sky is falling) to your followers, I feel it is essential that I correct as many of the misleading comments as I can.
    MYTH NO. 1 – Enviro’s continuously say “they are not against miners or job”. You say this in the same paragraph where you say MTR and surface mining has to stop immediately. Then eventually close down all coal fired power plants. You do realize that surface mining produces about 50% of Appalachia coal production. This will effect over 18,000 mining jobs and over 200,000 jobs indirectly throughout Appalachia, (according to a Penn State study).
    Really….. How will this not hurt jobs in Appalachia? With so much double talk, how do you expect everyone to take you seriously?

    Vinyl records, 8 tracks and cassettes may be gone, and CD’s may be on their way out, but what is the hot technical gagets today? Plastics are being dumped into our landfills at a record pace, the number of cell phones, I Pods, blackberries, computers etc. are being scrapped everyday. Harry you mentioned the sun as alternative energy, that’s fine if we are ever able to develop the technology to store the power, and the same goes for wind. As long as the wind is blowing and the sun is shinning we may be ok, but what happens whenever the wind stops and the sun doesn’t shine? Just ask the other countries that have tried to implement wind power several years ago, they are still using just as much coal as ever, because wind and solar power are not sustainable.

    MYTH NO.2 – Enviro’s continuously say that coal companies intimidate the employees. I personally have known hundreds of miners over the years and none of them have ever said anything about a coal company trying these intimidation tactics. Yet these so called environmental groups go around the country telling everyone that the mines are causing cancer and other illnesses. These groups bring in young unsuspecting kids and convince them to break into buildings, barge into offices, basically commit crimes and carry a record for the rest of their life, while the older ones sit back and watch. Then you compare coal mining life as to living in Nazi Germany or telling people that coal companies are turning Appalachia into a third world country. Really who is trying to imtimidate who COMRADE HARRY?

    Have either of you listened to the people of the Gulf region? They are overwhelming against the ban on offshore drilling. IMO the environmentalist are as much to blame for this disaster as BP. Over the years the enviro’s have forced oil companies off the main land, then further and further out to sea. In reality this would have never happened if the enviro’s had let the oil companies alone.

    When an anti-coal group conducts a poll on surface mining you can bet the numbers will be skewed, I’m surprised it wasn’t a 100% against surface mining. Is there mutiny in the ranks Bo?

    Bo, you are so full of crap there are over 50 Billion tons of recoverable coal in West Virginia alone, at the current rate of production it may take more than 25 years. Don’t you think?

    When are you ninnyhammers going to stop living in a fantasy world and realize that as of today there is no replacement for the 90% of your energy produced by the coal your wanting to do away with?

    Mari, why can’t you grasp the fact that we have no replacement for the energy that we will be losing form coal?

    How will coal as an energy source be replaced, today not 30 years from now?

    • bo webb says:

      Why don’t you just read the EIN report? Yes, there is coal left in WV. The problem is the cost of retrieving it. When that cost exceeds market price it will no longer be retrieved. Nothing complicated there. Those of us that haven’t been totally brainwashed by king coal can still thin with some common sense. Perhaps you’re just figuring that you can just blast the heck out of southern WV, turn it into a giant pit and be able to compete that way, but that’s a daydream. You’re not going to be allowed to do that. Just read the EIN report, do yourself a favor.

      • Walt says:

        Technology is a great thing isn’t it. FYI coal is being mined today that was considered unmineable just 25 years ago. As technology continues and expands other reserves considered unmineable today will be available in the future. That is unless a few mindless nuts, who want to outlaw fossil fuels which accounts for over 90% of the electricity in WV, and Ky. and several other states, and 50% nationally, even though they have no way to replace this energy source.

        No one else can or will answer this question maybe you will. How do we replace fossil fuels, wind and solar experts say it will be decades before either are viable alternatives?

        Who does without electricity?

        For once in your life use some common sense and leave this fantasy world of yours behind and think about what will happen to this area without electricity or at best 10% of what we have today.

  7. Citizen Harry says:

    Public readers:

    I’ve sworn off replying directly to “Walt”, because of his continuing insults, and demeanor of fire and brimstone preaching instead of kind, “give and take” dialogue. Thank God we don’t have a President who wields power that way anymore. Maybe Walt should start writing on the Fox News blog, where he can preach to the choir.

    I’m sure we disagree, but I am offended (again) by him calling me a liar, and implying that I have “followers”, and sit up nights figuring out how to “mislead” people.

    I’m just a citizen of this country that wants to stop destroying mountains and creating health issues, and turn my beloved Appalachia into a place of hope, and beauty once again. I hope by reading all the comments and responses, you can make up your own minds.

    Citizen Harry

    • Walt says:

      Give and take dialouge? Are you kidding me? When have you ever given during any of our discussions?

      What country are you from? It can’t be the USA, need I remind you that Obama with his Chicage style politics is the president in this country. A man who bribes others to get what he wants, a man who said, I talk to these people so I’ll know who’s ass to kick. Is this the gentle sole your referring too?

      You sure paint a pretty picture Harry, first you try to make me into a villain, and then make youself into an angel straight from heaven. I don’t have a problem with you trying to villify me, however you and most of the readers on this blog know I’m telling the truth, and that alone scares you more than anything. I’m sure if the public reads your posts then they will see the real Harry. No matter how you try to paint youself, you post are here for everyone to see. Those with the least bit of common sense will see you and your kind for what you really are.

  8. bo webb says:

    I don’t have a lot of time to respond to every negative comment posted here from “friends of coal” So I’ll just say this to Walt and then I must move on.

    Demolition crews on mtr sites are not coal miners. Coal DOES NOT supply the nation with 50% of its electricity. The number has dropped to 43%. (check your facts) Coal is running out in WV.
    If you take time to read this significant study and think about it in terms of reality you’ll understand why mtr must end and we must move as quickly as possible to a new economy for Central Appalachia. You will either realize the oncoming economical impacts of less and less coal or you won’t. People, in general are afraid of change, but in this case if you truly care about WV and our children’s future, your children’s future, then you need to come to grips with the fact that coal is not forever.

    • Walt says:

      Bo……by saying “demolition crews on MTM sites are not coal miners” you are once again showing your ignorance on the subject of coal.

      I checked my facts, however you may want to recheck yours, or do you just repeat the lame talking ponts discussed during your weekly environmentalnut meeting. The U.S. Energy Information Adimistration reports that our energy sorces come from the following,
      Coal 49.8%
      Nuclear 19.9%
      Natural Gas 17.9%
      Hydroelectric 6.5%
      Petroleum 3%
      Renewables (Wind and Solar) 2.3%

      Do you our anyone else really think that wind and solar power can go from producing 2.3% to producing nearly 52% overnight do you?

      All I needed to read was the paragraph about the authors, anti coal enviro’s conducting a study about coal, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize it is a bias report. The outcome of any report ca very easily be altered one example is CLIMATEGATE….remember HIDE THE DELCINE. Like I said before when ever a author has a predetermined opiniion of the subject, their report will be bias, just look at Mari and her movie it’s another prime example.

      West Virginia has nearly 50 Billion tons of coal reserves, but I guess technically you right since coal is a non renewable scource it will eventually run out IN ABOUT 200 YEARS. BTW I don’t think my children or grand children have to worry about running out of coal.

      I know coal will not last forever, but common sense also tells me that we can’t stop using coal until we have a replacement for it. Like I told Harry, my thought would be to develop alternative energy sources and as these sources are developed and implemented then and only then do we scale back our dependancy on coal. This country has to many energy sources to be dependent on unstable foreign countries, we have to become energy independent.

  9. Mari-Lynn says:


    None of my relatives, to my knowledge, use an alias to blog on our site. I use my name when I respond to any comments. And you can imagine the response/comments that result from my speaking.

    COAL COUNTRY told both sides of coal in Appalachia. You told your side in a very honest way and I appreciate that. I think you are a PR asset to your industry and would imagine they would agree. I hope you acknowledge that the film gave you the platform to make your case for coal mining.

    I can only be certain of my intentions in making this film. I cannot control the outcome nor the response of those who see COAL COUNTRY.

    This is the most critical, and divisive issue facing Appalachia today. It is one where people have strong beliefs. I have never disrespected you nor would I. I know what your position is, and not everyone will agree with it. That does not make them stupid or liars .

    I have to say how tragic it is when I see people who would malign those who disagree with them. We all have a right to stand and speak.

    Everything I saw, everything I heard is in Coal Country. Love it or not it is what it is. It is the story of people from the coal fields. And a lot of them want MTR to stop. They are also doing what they believe is right and just.

    Thank you , again, for being in Coal Country.

  10. Mari-Lynn says:

    To be accussed of selling my soul to the Sierra Club, or anyone else, would be an insult if it wasn’t so ridiculous. Happy WV DAY to all my friends.

  11. Mari-Lynn says:
    Emmylou Harris singing THE GREEN ROLLING HILLS of WV/ Happy WV Day!

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