The Common Good

Coal Country: Is it Mine or God's?

[Editor's Note: On 10.10.10, is coordinating 2700 events in 150 countries to address climate change concerns as a planet. Learn more about reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 by clicking here. Also, learn more about mountaintop removal and]

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"You don't regulate an abomination, you stop it." That's the voice of Beverly May, a resident of Maytown, Kentucky, speaking out against mountaintop-removal coal mining in the 2010 documentary Deep Down: A Story From the Heart of Coal Country.

Deep Down follows the community of Maytown, Kentucky as the residents decide whether they will lease their lands to a local coal company for mountaintop removal. And in a year that's seen a lot of talk about mountaintop removal coal mining, including recent industry-sponsored protests against stricter Environmental Protection Agency mining guidelines here in Washington, D.C., Deep Down helps explain why mountaintop removal is not just an issue of ecological justice, but of poverty, fear, and other subtle forms of oppression fed by industrial greed.

Many Appalachians, like May, believe mountaintop removal is the "final assault" on the place where their families have lived for generations. "In the language of mine operators," explains May, "everything that lies above the coal is 'overburden,' waste to be blown out of the way and dumped on the nearest valley as quickly and cheaply as possible to get to what really matters, which is the coal and the money it represents

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