It’s no secret that Mountaintop Removal Mining is a hot-button topic in Appalachia, but many people (especially those not living in the region) don’t understand the process behind it or the raging debate happening in the mountains and the courthouses. The Stuff You Should Know Podcast from How Stuff Works has put all of it together in their most recent episode: “What is Mountaintop Removal Mining?“(featuring Kentucky musician and cellist Ben Sollee!)
and check out these titles from UPK that tackle the topic of Mountaintop Removal Mining:
Something’s Rising collects oral histories from a diverse group of individuals from Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Virginia who are fighting mountaintop removal, an ecologically devastating form of coal mining. Taken together, these voices stand as a testament of what it means to be an Appalachian and demonstrate the value of preserving a culture’s history and spirit through the stories of its people. The authors have chosen twelve unique voices including Jean Ritchie, the “mother of folk,” who doesn’t let her eighty-six years slow down her fighting spirit; Judy Bonds, a tough-talking coal miner’s daughter; Kathy Mattea, the beloved country singer who believes that cooperation is the key to the battle; Larry Bush, who doesn’t back down even when speeding coal trucks are used to intimidate him; and Denise Giardina, the West Virginia writer who ran for governor to bring attention to the mountaintop removal issue. Written and edited by native sons of the mountains, these riveting, personal stories are captured in an original and highly readable book.
Silas House is a bestselling novelist of Clay’s Quilt, A Parchment of Leaves, and The Coal Tattoo, whose nonfiction has been published in Newsday, Sierra, The Oxford American, No Depression, and elsewhere. In 2008 he won the Helen Lewis Award for Community Service for his efforts in the fight against mountaintop removal.
Jason Howard is the editor of We All Live Downstream and has written for such publications as Equal Justice Magazine, Paste, Kentucky Living, The Louisville Review, and many others.
“This revelatory work is a challenging tocsin shouting out the effects of poverty and exploitations of the Appalachian people by strip miners and other corporate pirates. I am reminded of the fighting spirit of the Eastern Kentuckians when I visited these embattled pioneers in their hills and hollers. Here, Jean Ritchie and others speak out in the fighting tradition of the 1930s and 1960s. It is oral history at its best.”—Studs Terkel
In late 1994, wells in Pie, West Virginia, began to go dry, leaving many residents of the small coal-mining town without potable water. When local housewife Trish Bragg made a few phone calls in an effort to solve this problem, she had no idea that her inquiries would eventually lead to her becoming the named plaintiff in a major lawsuit, a summa cum laude college graduate, and a hero of her community. Moving Mountains recounts the struggle of Trish Bragg and other ordinary West Virginians for fair treatment by the coal companies that dominate the local economies of southern West Virginia. The collateral effects of mountaintop removal, deep mining, and other mining practices are felt most profoundly in the communities that supply much of the labor for these mining operations, which results in divided loyalties among families that have made their living from coal mining for generations. Author Penny Loeb spent nine years chronicling the triumphs and setbacks of people in the West Virginia coalfields–people caught between the economic opportunities provided by coal and the detriments to health and to quality of life that are so often the by-products of the coal industry. The result of her work is an account of the human and environmental costs of coal extraction, and the inspirational grassroots crusade to mitigate those costs.
“Loeb, a former senior editor for U.S. News and World Reports, is cautious and sensitive in her portrayals of the individuals and incidents depicted in [Moving Mountains]. She balances extrapolations of the technical details and reasons for the lawsuits with well-documented information concerning local residents’ cultural and emotional struggles, some of whom had generations of employment by the coal industry…[Loeb] provides a thorough, analytical account of the complexity of the situation as it evolved and the emotional turmoil.” — Appalachian Journal
The Dreiser Committee, including writers Theodore Dreiser, John Dos Passos, and Sherwood Anderson, investigated the desperate situation of striking Kentucky miners in November 1931. When the Communist-led National Miners Union competed against the more conservative United Mine Workers of America for greater union membership, class resentment turned to warfare. Harlan Miners Speak, originally published in 1932, is an invaluable record that illustrates the living and working conditions of the miners during the 1930s. This edition of Harlan Miners Speak, with a new introduction by noted historian John C. Hennen, offers readers an in-depth look at a pivotal crisis in the complex history of this controversial form of energy production.
“Harlan Miners Speak is an important testament to the hardships endured by miners and their families during the turbulent and poverty-ridden era of the Great Depression. The words of those miners are loud and clear in this volume, and they are worth hearing again.” —Modern Mountain Magazine
In 1995, Chris Holbrook burst onto the southern literary scene with Hell and Ohio: Stories of Southern Appalachia, stories that Robert Morgan described as “elegies for land and lives disappearing under mudslides from strip mines and new trailer parks and highways.” Now, with the publication of Upheaval, Holbrook more than answers the promise of that auspicious debut. In eight interrelated stories set in Eastern Kentucky, Holbrook again captures a region and its people as they struggle in the face of poverty, isolation, change, and the devastation of land and resources at the hands of the coal and timber industries. Written with a gritty, unflinching realism reminiscent of the work of Larry Brown and Cormac McCarthy, the stories in Upheaval prove that Holbrook is not only a faithful chronicler and champion of Appalachia’s working poor but also one of the most gifted writers of his generation.
Chris Holbrook, a native of Knott County, Kentucky, received the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing for Hell and Ohio: Stories of Southern Appalachia. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Holbrook is associate professor of English at Morehead State University.
“These eight stories are as finely shaped, and deceptively intricate, as a piece of Shaker furniture…What smolders beneath the surface of these stories is a sea of anxiety and anger, suppressed until the point of, well, upheaval.” —Louisville Courier-Journal