As a filmmaker whose footage is in this documentary, I will not comment on the merits of CNN’s “The March on Blair Mountain”. I know the CNN Producers and Ms O’Brien have received very harsh and critical viewer evaluations of it from the impacted MTR citizens, anti MTR activists, and many national environmental organizations including The Natural Resource Defense Council.
I would, however, like CNN to consider where the great disappointment and anger expressed at this film by impacted citizens of West Virginia originates. Maria Gunnoe, Larry Gibson, Chuck Nelson, and Bo Webb are all acting on an incredible sense of urgency to stop MTR, especially after the recent WVU health studies. They believe MTR is genocide. They believe they are being exterminated for corporate profits and that their elected officials are complicit. And that this has been taking place for generations.
You and I I don’t live under a MTR site. We have water we can safely drink. At least for now. Our neighbors are not dying in clusters from cancers and our children don’t have birth defects nor gasp for air because of asthma caused by coal dust. We have options and power. They don’t.
The fact that neither Sen Jay Rockefeller or Sen Joe Manchin would even comment on these health studies, let alone call for a scientific review and replicated study, just confirmed what they felt–no one cares about them. Their US Congressman Nick Rahall introducing HR 2018 just days after the health studies were released and it passing the entire House was a real blow.
How could they feel any cares about them. Their politicians who issue press releases nearly every day about the EPA or jobs, won’t even comment on the National Mining Association attorney’s dismissing the health studies because they did not figure in for “poverty and ‘inbreeding’. You must understand how they feel disposable. As Joe Lovett says, “people get in the way of mining.” In the Appalachian coal fields, America’s poorest and sickest people live on top of America’s richest land and resources. To me, that says it all.
I hope you will come back to the coal fields in the future. Come soon because these people may all be gone, along with their land and culture, in the next few years. Energy for America or hillbillies. I think the decision has been made. As Sen Robert C Byrd said, after 29 men died at the worst mining accident in 40 years at Massey UBB, once the mourning has stopped you will find that still nothing changes. And it hasn’t.
I won’t just miss my mountain home. I will miss my friends, like Judy Bonds. I will miss our way of life. It will break my heart when the coal fields are leveled in 20 years and all the coal has been mined. Nothing or no one will be left to remind the world that indeed once we lived and once we mattered.
Mountain Top Removal Mining is not an issue of jobs v the environment . It is an issue of corporate profits and corrupt politicians v the health and safety of human beings living under MTR sites in Appalachia. WVU scientists estimate over 11,000 people die in Appalachia each year because of coal. MTR mining provides less than 4000 direct MTR jobs in West Virginia. Does that mean, for every MTR job, we must accept that those jobs will cost each of us the lives of two or three of our friends and loved ones?
This is jobs v genocide. If you don’t understand that, then you don’t understand the story.
Executive Producer “The Appalachians”
2010 West Virginia Filmmaker of the Year