Marcher to strip miners: “We’re your friends”
BY M.L. RAMSBURG
March on Blair Mountain organizers, attendees and supporters are very vocal in their stance against the practice of strip coal mining. Many refer to the practice of strip mining as “Mountaintop Removal”, for it’s standard practice of blasting away mountaintop sites to expose coal seams underneath. As many March on Blair participants noted, Mountaintop Removal has been blamed for harm caused to the natural land, harm caused to citizens through the polluting of water sources, and for the reduction in jobs (it requires less miners to strip mine a site than to work underground).
Many counter protesters argue that by trying to prevent strip mining, Marchers are invariably encouraging the loss of jobs – jobs currently completed by strip miners. As one young lady, Emily Williams, from Witcher Creek, West Virginia – a source for an earlier post on this blog – put it:
“More than half of my family’s coal miners. That puts them out of jobs if they [the Marchers] mess this up. If they try to get all this to be stopped, there’s jobs being taken away from other people. That’s half my family. That’s what keeps our lights on and us fed.”
In interviews for this blog conducted with Marchers and march supporters this week, one question was asked time and time again: What would you say to working strip miners? Here are some of the March attendees and supporter’s responses.
Brandon Nida, March on Blair Spokesperson and Salt Rock, WV Native
Jim Toren, March on Blair attendee from Cincinnati, OH
Terry Steele, March on Blair Spokesperson and former union Miner from Meador, WV
Steve Rutledge, March on Blair supporter and Greenbrier County, WV resident