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1 THE FAITH TO SAVE MOUNTAINS: RELIGION AND RESISTANCE TO MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL COAL MINING IN APPALACHIA By JOSEPH DYLAN WITT A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2011
2 2011 Joseph Dylan Witt
3 To my fami ly and the people of Appalachia
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank my mother and father, who instilled in me a love of the mounta i ns and a desire to help people in need I thank the members of my dissertation committee, Bron Taylor, Anna Peterson, David Hackett, and Jack Davis, who provided e xcellent feedback on my work, helped me articulate my thoughts clearly and pointed me towar d helpful resources for further consideration. I am grateful to my friends in Gainesville a nd elsewhere, especially Robert Perdue, Elliot Kuecker, and Lucas Johnston, whose suppo rt and conversation helped me develop my arguments regarding religion and mou ntaintop removal and who supported me during the more difficult times in the field and while writing. Finally, I thank the activists and residents of Appalachia who generously gave me their time, fed me, and supported my project. This research was partia lly funded by grants from the Kentucky Historical Association and a Gibson Dissertation Fellowship, from the University of Florida.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 4 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 7 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 11 Where is Appalachia, and What is Mountaintop Removal? ................................ ................... 21 Chapter Outline ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 24 2 SETTING THE STAGE: SCHOLARLY RESOURC ES FOR STUDYING RELIGION, COAL, AND RESISTANCE IN APPALACHIA ................................ ................................ .. 26 Scholarship on Mountaintop Removal ................................ ................................ ................... 26 Studying Religion in Appal achia: Difference, Denominations, and the Emergence of the Field ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 34 Religious Stereotypes ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 35 Studying Religion in Appalachia: 1900 to 1970 ................................ ............................. 37 Studying Religion in Appalachia: Defining the Field, 1970 to the Present .................... 41 Modeling Coal and Culture: Competing Visions of Mountaineers and King Coal ................ 53 Culture of Poverty ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 53 Internal Colonialism Models ................................ ................................ ........................... 55 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 69 3 FROM FARMERS TO MINERS: RELIGIOUS, ECONOMIC, AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES IN APPALACHIA, 1776 TO 1930 ................................ 72 Appalachia in the Early Republic ................................ ................................ ........................... 73 Religion in Appalachia, 1776 to 1850 ................................ ................................ ............. 74 Industry in Appalachia: Railroads, Forests, and Mines ................................ ................... 79 Life and Work in the Coal Towns: Maintaining the Industrial Status Quo ..................... 87 Religion and Coal in Appalachia in the 20 th Century ................................ ........................... 100 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 112 4 MOUNTAINEER S FIGHT BACK: UNIONS, MINING, MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL AND RESISTANCE, 1930 TO 2011 ................................ .............................. 114 Fighting the Machines: Unions, Mechanization, and Resistance in the Coalfields .............. 115 Poor Miners and Union Maids: The Rise and Fall of Unions in Central Appalachia ... 116 Mechanization and the Emergence of Strip Mining: 1945 to 1977 ............................... 123
6 The Stirrings of Resistance: Grassroots Opposition to Surface Mining and the Phases of Appalachian Environmentalism ................................ ................................ ........................ 128 The First Pha se: Grassroots Resistance to Surface Mining, 1965 to 1977 .................... 129 The Second Phase: Organized Activism and the Emergence of Mountaintop Removal, 1977 to 2004 ................................ ................................ .............................. 145 The Third Phase: Mountaintop Removal and the Contemporary Movement, 2004 to Present ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 155 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 160 5 OF VALUES AND MOUNTAINS: IDENTITY POLITICS AND PERCEPTIONS OF THE LAND IN MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL DISCOURSE ................................ ........... 166 Arguments for and Against Mountaintop Removal: Values in Action ................................ 167 Arguments Supporting Mountaintop Removal ................................ ............................. 167 Arguments Opposing Mountaintop Removal ................................ ................................ 174 Themes in Resistance: Identity and Culture in Mountaintop Removal Discourse ............... 180 Who Speaks for the Mountains?: Insiders and Outsiders in Mountaintop Removal Debates ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 181 Culture in Action: Visions of Appalachian Identity in Mountaintop Removal Opposition ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 192 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 204 6 RELIGIOUS RESPONSES TO MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL, PART I: CHRISTIAN ACTIVISM ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 208 Mainline Christian Activism ................................ ................................ ................................ 211 Evangelical Christian Activism ................................ ................................ ............................ 231 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 252 7 RELIGIOUS RESISTANCE TO MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL, PART II: NATURE RE LIGION AND HYBRIDITY ................................ ................................ ........................... 256 Nature Religion and Environmental Activism ................................ ................................ ..... 257 Cooperation, Co optation, and Counter Resistance: Religi on and Narratives on the Ground ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 281 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 294 8 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 298 RESEARCH METHODS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 303 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 311 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 338
7 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1 1 ................................ ................................ .............. 25 3 1 poster ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 113 4 1 Depiction of various forms of deep and surface mining. ................................ ................. 161 4 2 Active mountaintop mine on Kayford Mountain, West Virginia ................................ .... 161 4 3 Active m ountaintop removal mine on Black Mountain, at the border of Kentucky and Virginia ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 162 4 4 A section of the Hobet #21 mine in Logan County, West Virginia ................................ 162 4 5 A section of partially reclaimed mountaintop removal land on Kayford Mountain, West Virginia ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 163 4 6 A reclaimed section of Hobet #21 in Logan County, West Vir ginia ............................... 163 4 7 Reclaimed surface mine land near Hazard, Kentucky ................................ ..................... 164 4 8 The line between original forest and reclaimed mountaint op removal site on Kayford Mountain, West Virginia ................................ ................................ ................................ 164 4 9 Activists stand outside the EPA offices in Washington D.C. as part of the Appalachia Rising March ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 165 5 1 Shopping center and parking lot on former mountaintop removal land .......................... 204 5 2 A Massey Energy supporter holds a sign in counter protest at a rally at Marsh Fo rk Elementary School ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 205 5 3 fight mountaintop removal. ................................ ................................ .............................. 205 5 4 Musicians and dancers performing at a rally organized by United Mountain Defense against the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville, Tennessee, July 26, 2009 ........... 206 5 5 Morgan School, Sundial, West Virginia, June 23, 2009 ................................ ............................... 206 5 6 ind ustrial Appalachia. ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 207
8 6 1 Jim Lewis (left) and Denise Giardina (right) speak at a rally at Marsh Fork Elementary School ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 253 6 2 A billboard near Marsh Fork Elementary School. ................................ ........................... 253 6 3 A protestor holds a sign at a rally at Marsh Fork Elementary School ............................. 254 6 4 A protestor holds a sign at Appalachia Rising march in Washington, D.C ..................... 254 6 5 Judy Bonds (left) talks with a local reporter at a rally at Marsh Fork Elementary School ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 255 6 6 Sage Russo (center) reads from his Bible and prays before a rally against the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville, Tennessee ................................ ..................... 255 7 1 Crane. ................................ ............................... 295 7 2 ................................ ................................ .................... 296 7 4 Larry Gibson describing the mine site surrounding his property on Kayford Mountain, West Virginia. ................................ ................................ ................................ 297 7 5 Julian Martin stands at the edge of a mountaintop removal site in West Virginia .......... 297 8 1 coal Appalachia ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 302
9 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy THE FAITH TO SAVE MOUNTAINS: RELIGION AND RESISTANCE TO MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL COAL MINING IN APPALACHIA By Joseph Dylan Witt August 2011 Chair: Bron Taylor Ma jor: Religion Mountaintop removal coal mining, a form of s urface mining practiced in the C entral Appalachian states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, presents one of the most significant environmental issues of the 21 st century. Impact ed Appalachian communities are often forced to choose between the few jobs offered by mountaintop mines and the environmental groups, mountaintop removal represe nts a focal point for the continued fight against U.S. fossil fuel dependency and its connections to climate change. Many of these activists incorporate cultural and religious narratives into their work, whether evangelical Christian views of stewardship and creation care, mainline Protestant and Catholic views of social justice, or forms of nature based religion. Despite significant differences (for example, evangelical activists sometimes disagree with radical environmental activists on certain social p olicies), these groups manage to work effectively together, respecting their mutual differences while sharing commitments to preserve Appalachian communities and ecosystems. While some environmental groups have downplayed or simplified religious values in the past, the case of resistance to mountaintop removal reveals that religious values are necessary components of broader worldviews that motivate and support environmental activism for some
10 impacted communities. The influence of the movement against mou ntaintop removal on local communities partially derives from the commitment of its organizers to respecting local religious values, elevating local citizens to positions of leadership, and allowing impacted communities to guide the methods used to contest the mining practice. This case thus represents a valuable study on the place of religious values in grassroots environmental activism, offering models for incorporating diverse religious perspectives into the movement while at the same time respecting dif ferences. The case also provides tools for scholars of religion and Appalachian history to understand the complex ways that religious values are translated into individual behaviors. Religious resistance to mountaintop removal reveals the place of local religious values among a myriad of factors and values that influence responses to an environmentally and socially damaging practice.
11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The year 2011 began with the passing of two giants in West Virginia; one passing was celebrated, the other mourned. The first death was more figurative than literal. Toward the end of January it was announced that Alpha Natural Resources would buy Massey Energy for approximately $7.1 billion. Before 2011, Massey had been widely known fo r its safety violations, anti union policies, and support of increased mountaintop removal mining and decreased environmental regulations. For many anti mountaintop removal activists, Massey represented all of the offenses associated with mountaintop remo val. Though it was not the largest land holder in the region, Massey owned mines in the Coal River Valley of West Virginia, including a mine, processing center, and slurry impoundment near Marsh Fork Elementary, one of the focal points of the 21 st century anti mountaintop removal movement. At hange denying and anti union Chief Executive Officer After starting as an office manager with the company in 1982, Blankenship had worked his way quickly to the highe st position in the company by 1990. Though always controversial for his public persona and political machinations, Blankenship fell under increased scrutiny after the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster, in which 25 miners died in an underground explosion despite frequent warnings of safety violations by officials. On December 31, 2010, Blankenship officially retired from the company, and with the sale of Massey, one of the most despised figures and companies among anti mountaintop removal activists was g one (Parker and Mider 2011). Although some activists celebrated the sale of Massey and retirement of Blankenship, lost a short battle with cancer. A tenth g eneration West Virginian, Judy Bonds was undeniably
12 one of the most influential figures of the anti mountaintop removal movement and one of the most influential environmental activists of the early 21 st century. Bonds became involved in the anti mountainto p removal movement after pollution from a nearby surface mine threatened her family and home in Marfork Hollow (Brown 2011). She worked with Coal River Mountain Watch and gained international attention for her boisterous persona, and deeply evangelical Christian worldview, all in spite of continued threats and acts of violence toward her by miners and other industry prophet of Environmental Prize, which came with a $150,000 prize and global recognition. In 2004 and 2005, Bonds was involved in the revitalization of local anti mountaintop removal activism through the youth powered Mountain Justice movement. By the time of her passing in 2011, Bonds had witnessed the resolution of some of the most controversial issues associated with mountaintop removal. Private donors and the local government had agreed to relocate Marsh Fork Elementary School, and in the fall of 2010, though too ill to attend herself, Judy witnessed from home the largest mobilization of national activists in resistance to mountaintop removal in Washington, D.C. Though she left countless friends and admirers, Bonds had witnessed and to a large degree guided the contemporary movement against mountaintop removal coal mining. Wherever the movement would go in 2011 and beyond remained unclear, but without either Massey or Judy Bonds, it woul d never be the same. In this work I interrogate the resistance movement to mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia, focusing specifically on the importance of religious values in motivating and sustaining that resistance and situating the movement within a longer history of conflict between
13 the coal industry and Appalachian workers The 21 st century resistance movement developed from a lengthy history of political, economic, social, religious, and environmental engagement between coal industry off icials, workers, and Appalachian landowners In previous decades, some scholars and religious anti poverty workers argued that the coal industry brought needed cultural and economic changes to Appalachia providing locals with the economic means to enter U .S. capitalist society and helping them to see the value of hard work (a value that some 19 th and 20 th century commentators believed many Appalachians lacked). Later, scholars viewed the history of the coal industry in Appalachia as a form of colonialist exploitation extracting the material wealth of the region and exporting it elsewhere while extending few of the benefits to local laborers and their families. These different perspectives remain influential among anti mountaintop removal activists, schola rs, and other Appalachians. Elucidating the multiple perspectives of those impacted by mountaintop removal helps reveal the complexity among environmental and religious values on the ground. Activists employ religious and cultural narratives in their resi stance that are familiar to them while at the same time they reflect on and respond to other influences, such as the arrival of radical environmentalists who bring values and perspectives that differ from traditional Appalachian cultural worldviews. The d ifferent religious and environmental values of anti mountaintop removal activists combine and conflict in specific cases, and the current resistance movement represents both tradition and innovation. Some challenge mountaintop removal for feeding U.S. fos sil fuel dependency, which contributes to climate change, while others problem of mountaintop removal, then, lies at the confluence of multiple regional and global envi ronmental issues. For some, the damages caused by mountaintop removal evoke religious
14 responses as well. Religious activists, whether evangelical Christian, mainline Christian, or dark green religious practitioners (those who consider nature sacred an al l species as having intrinsic value [Taylor 2010]), work together and share perspectives, while at the same time preserving what they consider to be essential elements of their religious identities. What binds activists of different religious and ethical views is a commitment to preserve the ecosystems and human communities of Appalachia, though as will be seen, sometimes activists share little else (Shaprio 2010). The image of religious resistance to mountaintop removal that emerges is not one of a singu lar group speaking in the same voice, but of a diverse movement, comprised of multiple actors with differing motivations who manage to work together toward a shared goal of stopping mountaintop removal coal mining. This diversity of viewpoints is a key re ason that the religious resistance to mountaintop removal has been so vibrant. Individuals from multiple perspectives are able to participate in the movement, at different levels, and always have their opinions respected. The contemporary movement agains t mountaintop removal provides a positive model for engaging and respecting different religious values within a broader environmental movement. In other words, the movement shows that religious values, even when they conflict among participants, need not be put aside for an environmental movement to be effective. Instead, they may be respectfully engaged by participants, ultimately comprising a rich texture of diversity where many different stakeholders are allowed to participate. This study is primaril y informed by the works of Robert Orsi (1997, 2005), Anna Peterson (2009), Thomas Tweed (2006), and Bron Taylor (2010) on the intersections of a historical pers pective and methodology, inspired in large part by work in the sociology of religion, focusing on how religious teachings and materials are used by layp ersons in everyday
15 situations, and how boundaries between religions that scholars often draw too rigidly are fluid and permeable. For Orsi, the realities of everyday life (1997:7), not merely through expressions of metaphysical or theological principles Religion is inevitably a process o f cultural creativity that cannot be and behavior arise and to which they respond (1997:7). He continued, impulses are of the moment, invented, taken, borrowed, and improvis ed at the intersections of life (Orsi 1997:8). In other words, a lived religion perspective Emerging as it does in specific circumstances, religion also embodies the many conflicts of everyday life rather than harmony, con sensus, and social legitimation (Orsi 1997:15 ). the abstract concepts discussed by scholars. In Between Heaven and Hell Orsi introduced the and other factors in the real world; religious practices are thus always braided into more complex strands of relationships (20 05:9). This metaphor is especially useful to understand the various religious groups engaged in opposition to mountaintop removal, sharing ideas and perspectives on the ground but also working to retain their individual identities. Following this lived r eligion perspective requires attending to multiple other threads related to religious resistance on the ground, including local politics, history, and culture. It also necessitates a fieldwork approach, combined with archival and secondary source data.
16 Pe terson provided another useful approach, considering the complex relationships between values and their associated behaviors. While Orsi emphasized the complex ways that She transformed in everyday life, people also enact moral values that they have not consciously reflected on or articulated. These are not just lived but embodied eth ics. Attending to the values embodied, often unacknowledged, in everyday life requires us also to look for the ways political (Peterson 2009:25). As a research mo del, Peterson called scholars to not only ask what people say about their values, but what they do with them. In Appalachia, for example, several Christian denominations have issued official statements opposing mountaintop removal mining. This does not n ecessarily mean, however, that individual parishioners are changing their behaviors in response, or even know about the statements to begin with (see Chapter 6). i nfluence individual behaviors. Regarding religious resistance to mountaintop removal in Appalachia, this approach demands a consideration of how political and economic structures (such as coal companies and their elected supporters) have influenced enviro nmental perceptions surrounding the coal industry and economic structure s. Finally, Peterson called researchers to transforming each othe r; to single out one as the dominant or sole factor in any social process
17 how religious values, social structures, and individual behaviors interact and change In Appalachia, this reciprocal relationship between values and practices can be represented by local Christians who engage with other environmentalists and thus reframe their attitudes toward mountaintop removal and then change their behaviors by becomi ng involved in rallies against the practice. In Crossing and Dwelling (2006), Tweed provided another useful metaphor for studying cultural flows that intensify joy and confront suffering by drawing on human and suprahuman forces to make homes and cross Boundaries between different groups remain present but permeable, and individuals repeatedly cross co gnitive and physical borders evangelical Christians accepting anarchists as friends, despite significant personal differences, or atheist activists bowing their heads respectfully while locals offer prayers for the Appalachian mountains. Likewise, religio us values are engaged and challenged as individuals confront the suffering caused by mountaintop removal and envision a Appalachia, different religious individuals come together to form new communities, bonded by shared visions of duty to preserve Appalachian ecosystems. Activists construct a public space of rallies and ev of religion helps explain the multiple influences and motivations of religious activis ts in Appalachia.
18 description of religious processes. Organic metaphors seem particularly appropriate when describing religious resistance to mountaintop removal, acknowledging flows, permeability, and change. Sarah McFarland Taylor, in her study of environmentally conscious Catholic nuns, p that presumes religion to be preeminently organic sees religious people as active, creative, and embodied meaning makers, symbol users, rhizomes branch apart and interconnect, so do behaviors, values, and material conditions. Bron Taylor provided more important concepts for theorizing and describing hybridity between religious practitioners and understanding the profound connections to a place and feelings of co nnectedness that underlie the motivations of many environmental activists. In Dark Green Religion shared ideas incubate, cross thin this milieu shared perspectives and ideas, drawing upon multiple foundations in a process Taylor described as bricolage (borrowing a term from French anthropologist Claude Lvy amalgamation of bits and pieces of a wide array of ideas and practices, drawn from diverse characterized by hybridizat intersections between religious and environmental values describes conditions among Appalachian environmentalists as well, who frequently draw upon multiple traditions such as creation care (a Chri stian environmental stewardship perspective), deep ecology (a philosophy
19 positing intrinsic value to all species), and Native American religions, creating perspectives addressing the specific environmental and cultural threats posed by mountaintop removal. environmentalism: different values do not persist in a static braid, but are continually cal and ever evolving processes of religious prod 178). Describing dark green religion, Taylor also argued for a more expansive understanding of ng, and comparing the widest possible variety of beliefs, behaviors, and functions that are typically the environment (Taylor individuals and groups who express environmental values outside of traditional Christian narratives, such as many non Christian radical environmentalists involved in the anti mountaintop removal movement. This approach also allows for the consideration of the influence of dark green thought on those who are also members of Christian communities, including Judy Bonds, who expressed a deep commitment to an evangelical Christian worldview but who was also influenced by local, nature revering traditions. Finally, Taylor and others provided useful arguments on the emergence of global environmental resistance movements, acknowledging that mate rial and religious factors remain intertwined. In the conclusion to Ecological Resistance Movements Taylor argued, ecological resistance (especially in less affluent countries) is not incompatible with recognizing that moral and religious idea motivations are deeply intertwined with the material motivations or that popular ecological resistance cannot be
20 accounted for if moral and religious variables are overlooked, or reduced to after the This succinctly describes the situation in Appalachia (a less affluent region of the U.S.). As I show in following chapters, many local anti mountaintop removal activists began their work because mountaintop re moval directly threatened their homes, families, or communities. They also see mountaintop removal as more than just an environmental issue, but an economic and cultural threat as well. As Taylor explained, such material motivations do not negate the imp mountaintop removal is both a material and religious issue, and it is not necessary to unbraid e resistance movement to mountaintop removal fits well within broader trends in ecological resistance movements around the world and can be used to further understand and theorize those movements. Based on these preceding theoretical works, my own ap proach to religious values on the ground in resistance to mountaintop removal describes a stream of activism. Distinct traditions and values (whether creation care among evangelical Christians or spiritual connections to the land among practitioners of sp iritual deep ecology) exist as currents and eddies within that wider stream. Religious values, however, are not the only tributaries to this stream. Political, social, economic, racial, and cultural histories and structures interact with religious values as well; and as the above theorists would note, religious ideas are seldom expressed on their own by embodied humans. Instead, religious perspectives coexist with other values, and people make daily decisions based upon numerous other conditions. As Tay lor argued, these values are continually renegotiated as well, and are subject to revision and change given changing circumstances. While this project focuses primarily on religious values and resistance to mountaintop removal, these values can never be p erfectly extricated from the larger stream of
21 Appalachian history. Identifying the different values deployed and perspectives on the issue is thus a necessary first step before deciding which values and perspectives potentially lead to increased justice f or the Appalachians impacted by the practice and help reduce U.S. dependency upon coal and other fossil fuels. Where is Appalachia, and What is Mountaintop Removal? from outside vis itors. Appalachia first appeared in reference to the lands held by the Apalachee tribe of the Florida panhandle not the great eastern mountain change Early Spanish explorers of Florida and the Gulf Coast sought gold among the local nat ive nations who m they believed to be directly connected to the gold rich societies of Central and South America. Many rumors pointed to the Apalachee Indians of the Florida panhandle, the region now known as Apalachicola. Disappointed in the lack of gol d among the Apalachee, explore rs turned their attention north, where the coastal natives said there was a vast mountain range rich in resources. 1 Rumors of this region continued through the decades of Spanish and French exploration. In 1564, French cart ographer Jacques Le Moyne included at the northern boundary of the Florida territory (in a regio n now part of the mountains of N orth Georgia) a village called was map indicated only one possibly fictitious village, later maps applied the term to the mountainous region in general. In 1569, the famous Flemish cartographer Gerard Mercator the became 1 As James Axtell (1997) has shown, native peoples of the Southeast often pointed the Spanish toward unfriendly tribes, effectively using the explorers as a weapon against their enemies. The city of gold to the north promised by the Apalachee was more likely the region inh abited by competitors for resources.
22 associated with (Davis 2000:3 7; Wilson 2002:19 20). ar on Poverty established it in the popular imagination. While Appalachia was known as a unique region popular perceptions of Appalachia as an entirely other place marked by impoverished people who failed to keep up with U.S. progress. To solve crippling poverty in the region, Johnson established the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to oversee public projects and distribute government relief funds. In an eff ort to cover all mountainous regions impacted by poverty, and possibly to win support from local politicians, ARC drew the borders of Appalachian widely. Ultimately, ARC defined the region of Appalachia as exten ding from Southern New York to N orthern Alab ama and Mississippi. It included 420 individual counties spread across 13 different states (see Figure 1 1). Coal had long been mined throughout this 13 state area. Contemporary mountaintop removal however, occurs primarily in C entral Appalachia the su bregion including Wes t Virginia, western Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, and E astern Tennessee. The focus of this study, then, is on that more limited region. hand for one form of the large scale surface m ining that occurs pri marily in C entral Appalachia. Surface mining is a broad term for any form of mining in which mineral seems are exposed to the air, as opposed to deep mining, where miners and machines enter the earth to remove minerals. In 2011, the U.S. mining practice involving the: (1) removal of mountaintops to expose coal seams, and (2) disposing of the associated mining overburden [or non coal debris] in adjace nt valleys
23 explosives and earth moving machinery. This o verburden is often pushed into nearby valleys, from coal processing is stored. Mining and hauling machines, such as massive drag lines, then remove the coal and s processed and shipped to markets. Following the completion of the mining process, the mined land is re graded, though this provision may be circumvented if an economic alternativ e is Kentucky), airfields, shopping centers, and even the Twisted Gun Golf Course, in Mingo County, West Virginia. Finally, the post mine land is reseeded wit h grasses and other plants (see Figures 4 2 through 4 8). 2 Mountaintop removal mining emerged gradually as technological and economic conditions changed in the Appalachian coalfields and the United States in general. While the practice began in the 1970s on a limited basis, mountaintop removal permits proliferated in the 1990s and 2000s, although the practice did not gain significant media attention until the early 21 st century. By 2011, researchers estimated that mountaintop removal had impacted over 50 0 mountains in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee, and over 50% of coal mined in those states came from surface mines (Epstein et al. 2011; EIA 2009). To understand the practice and the resistance movement to it in the 21 st century, however, it is necessary to understand the historical and social conditions that precipitated it. 2 A Atlantic Bringing Down the Mounta ins (2007:5 6). The numerous websites from different anti mountaintop removal groups likewise provide helpful http://www.ilovemountains.org/resources/ ) (accessed May 24, 2011).
24 Chapter Outline Because understanding mountaintop removal requires interdisciplinary lenses, I begin my study surveying the relevant theories related to the study o f religion, coal, and resistance in Appalachia. In Chapter 2 I review how scholarly perceptions of Appalachia have changed since the late 19 th century, when the first commentators described the region. To historically situate 21 st century mountaintop rem oval in Chapter 3, I describe the histories of religion and the coal industry in Appalachia, pointing to places of collision between the two. In Chapter 4 I then chart the emergence of strip mining and the emergence of resistance to it, beginning in the 1 960s and moving to the first decade of the 21 st century, along with the groups and individuals who make up the primary body of evidence for later chapters. I turn to themes of identity and place made prominent in the resistance movement to mountaintop rem oval in Chapter 5, including an analysis of insider vs. outsider debates between miners and activists, and problematic assertions religious resistance to mou ntaintop removal: mainline Christian, evangelical Christian, and dark green religiosity, and conclude in Chapter 7 with an analysis of the points of cooperation and conflict between members of these different categories. My primary research includes 19 in depth interviews (averaging an hour each in length) with anti mountaintop removal activists, participant observation data based on two summers of living and working with different activist groups in the region and participating in protests and other relat ed activities, and research at historical archives in the region, focused primarily on oral histories from former miners and strip mining opponents along with the records of regional environmental groups. A more detailed account of my research methods is available in the Appendix. While the beginning of 2011 might have appeared to some as a new era in the resistance to mountaintop removal, whatever ultimately occurs, the movement offers lessons about the role
25 of religious values and the possibility of st rategic cooperation among local and national groups struggling for environmental and economic justice. Figure 1 website: http://www.arc.gov/misc/arc_map.jsp (accessed May 19, 2011).
26 CHAPTER 2 SETTING THE STAGE: S CHOLARLY RESOURCES F OR STUDYING RELIGION COAL, AND RESISTANCE IN AP PALACHIA Despite the dramatic increase in mountaintop removal mining in the late 20 th centur y, few scholarly works focusing on its cultural dimensions and environmental impacts have emerged. There has been even less scholarship attending to the role of religions in resistance to the practice. My research addresses this lacuna, building upon the work of Chad Montrie (2003), Shirley Stewart Burns (2003), and Rebecca Scott (2010), along with other scholars of Appalachian social and religious history. Scholarship on Mountaintop Removal Labor historian Chad Montrie, in To Save the Land and People (2 003), provides one of the only lengthy histories of opposition to strip mining in the coal fields of Appalachia. 3 Though he does not focus on the era of mountaintop removal, ending his coverage shortly after the 1977 passage of the Surface Mining Control nonetheless extremely valuable for setting the stage for contemporary resistance. 4 Many of the contemporary mountaintop removal resistance groups, like Coal River Mountain Watch and Kentuckians for the Common wealth, emerged out of local organizations that formed in the 1960s radical direct action tactics such as those deployed by Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice blocking bulldozers and forcing work stoppage at mine sites began among 3 Fighting Back in Appalachia ed ited by Stephen L. Fis her (1993 a ), provides valuable information on Appalachian resistance groups such as Save Our Cumberland Mountains and Kentuckian s for the Commonwealth. It is not a Mountain Justice (2010) provides a journalistic account of the emergence of contemporary radical groups in the region, from 2004 to about 2009. 4 Montri e does take up mountaintop removal briefly toward the end of To Save the Land and People (2003: 197 200) and again in his later work Making a Living (2008). While relating his historical research to the contemporary practice, neither of these sources conti nues with deeper analysis of labor and mountaintop removal.
27 Appalachian locals long before the entry of radical environmental groups into the region. In fact, although contemporary activists and commentators fear growing violence among pro a nd anti have not reached the levels of the 1960s protests against strip mining (see Chapters 4 and 5). As a historian of organized labor movements, Montrie was particularly interested in the relationships between class structures and work, along with the transition of Appalachia from an agrarian to an industrial society. Local resistance to strip mining, he argued, presented a case of 4). 5 Like other environmental justice scholars, Montrie revealed significant differences between the environmental concerns of working class Appalachians and the broader, mainstream conservation movement, which emerged from a nd was initially supported by middle and upper class individuals. 6 He argued, class counterparts, these [Appalachian] critics expressed dislike for stripping in aesthetic terms, as a concern for the conservation of valuable mineral and timber resources, and as a matter of preserving the ecological integrity of the hills. But they were more likely to bemoan the damage done by strip mining to farmland and homesteads, as well as the loss of jobs e 2003:4). Concerns about jobs and private 5 Montrie Influenced by E. P. Thompson, Jacoby argued that the moral ecology of poachers in the American national parks conservation policies, occasionally borrowed from them, and at other times even influenced them. Most of all, though strikingly different sense of what nature is an 3). Montrie is also clearly influenced by the work of Robert Gottl ieb (2005), Ramachandra Guha (2000), and Joan Martinez Alier (2002), among others. 6 While anti environmental interest s often make this charge to critique modern environmentalists, the historical point was also made by Roderick Fraser Nash in his highly i nfluential Wilderness and the American Mind As Nash his axe, made the first gestures of resistance against the strong curre nts of antip 44).
28 property remain prevalent in anti mountaintop removal activism today, and they sometimes cause fissures between different groups of local and non local activists. Shirley Stewart Burns provided a second important scholarly analysis of mountaintop removal with Bringing down the Mountains (2007). A West Virginia historian and coalfield native, Burns provided the most thorough history and analysis of mountaintop removal mining, its social and ecological impacts, and the political and legal debates surrounding the practice in West Virginia. Like other historians of the region, Burns focused on power dynamics between Appalachian locals, the external corporate interests controlling most of the land and resources in the region, and the local politicians and businessmen who acted as corporate agents in support of solely on West Virginia and neglected religious history, Burns hel ped illuminate the complex interactions between the coal industry and the Appalachian political and legal systems. Together, Burns and Montrie provided much of the essential archival and historical background upon which I build. Removing Mountains (2010) presented the most unique study related to understandings of gender and race among coalfield residents and how they are intertwined with mountaintop remo val mining. Scott paid special attention to miners, their families, and supporters of mountaintop removal, groups that have been neglected by most researchers of the people in culture, arguing that explanations of the practice should not simply focus on Appalachia at the expense of the broader American culture because Appalach
29 (Scott 2010:6). Debates over mountaintop removal reveal how U.S. citizens conceive of rural identities and environments national struggles over the direction of the American nation, struggles that often hinge on the Heavily influenced by post structuralist theory, Scott broke down implicit and explicit dualisms (jobs versus environment or employers versus workers, for example) presented in both popular and scholarly studies of mountaintop removal, focusing instead ownership, gender, race and class formations and dispositions, national identity, and the 18 Removing Mountains is a powerful challenge to the assumptions of earlier scholars studying Appalachian culture and environments. Focusing on the stories of miners, highlighting the problematic dualisms in both pro and anti mountaintop removal discussions, and criticizing earlier academic approaches to mining in Appalachia, Scott contributed a valuable analysis of mountaintop removal and its related cultural assumptions. She offered a rich future direction for research in Appalachia, in a diff erent trajectory from the Marxist approaches that dominated late 20 th century analyses. 7 7 began as PhD dissertatio ns at Ohio State University (2001), the University of West Virginia (2005) and the University of California, Santa Cruz (2007), n, covered paid special attention to gender relations among activists. completed before the emergence of many of the groups examined in this project, including Mountain Justice and Climate Ground Zero. is another important dissertation on mountaintop removal. There are currently several students working on dissertations related to mountaintop removal and in the coming years there will be a minor explosion in scholarly analyses of the issue. Of special note are Shannon Elizabeth Bell, a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Oregon focusing on gender and grass roots mo bilization in the West Virginia coal fields, and Robert Perdue, a PhD Candidate in sociology at the University of Florida focusing on coalition building and social movement theory as related to mou ntaintop removal resistance.
30 Along with Montrie, Burns, and Scott, numerous popular authors have penned influential critiques of mountaintop removal. In 1997, journalist Penny Loeb publish U.S. News and World Report The article was one of (if not the ) first nationally published articles on the issue of mountaintop removal, which at the time was largely unheard of outside of Appalachia. Loeb continued her research and published Moving Mountains (2007), which expanded upon her earlier article. Moving Mountains focused on the work of Patricia Bragg, a resident of Pie, West Virginia, who fought a nearby Arch Coal mine and valley fill. Journalist Co al River (2008) similarly followed legal actions in West Virginia conducted in the early 2000s, and paid special attention to the work of Joe Lovett, a Charleston based environmental lawyer who led many of the legal challenges against valley fills and moun taintop removal permits in the state. 8 Along with mountaintop removal opponents, Coal River provided unique insight into the biography of Don Blankenship, the controversial former CEO of Massey Energy. To many activists, Blankenship was a model of coal c ompany arrogance with his deep involvement in West Virginia politics, known history of breaking unions among miners, and continued public statements denying the possibility of human induced climate change. 9 While Shnayerson and Loeb explained the complicat ed legal battles surrounding Lost Mountain (2006) took a different approach. The work recounted the stripping of Lost Mountain, Kentucky, 8 Like Loeb, Shnayerson first published his research in the national magazine, Vanity Fair See Michael Mountain National Geographic in 2006. Like Loeb and Shnayerson, Mitchell focused on the basic dynamics of mountaintop removal and important West Virginia figures such as Larry Gibson and Joe Lovett. Unlike Loeb and Shnayerson, though, Mitche ll did not later expand his article into a book. 9 Other legal scholars provide d more in depth (but less accessible) analyses of mountaintop removal policy and resistance actions. Important sources include McGinley 2004, Baller and Pantilat 2007, and R ivkin and Irwin 2009.
31 between 2003 and 2004. Rather than describi ng the long histories of legal actions against mountaintop removal, Reece presented his observations of the changing environment surrounding Lost Mountain and discussions with the Kentucky locals who both opposed and supported the mine. More than Loeb and Shnayerson, Reece directly engaged environmental values and spiritual responses to anthropogenic changes in nature. Drawing heavily on the well known essayist and poet Wendell Berry and the philosopher Martin Buber, Reece concluded, va lue in the natural world, whether aesthetic or intrinsic; we only see something we can use, even if that means using it up. We no longer see ourselves as part of a greater whole, a world so vast and mysterious that it deserves our reverence alongside our philosophy and the Gaia and biophilia hypotheses, three theories frequently cited by advocates of ense of belonging to and connectedness in nature, while perceiving the earth and its living systems to be sacred and Lost Mountain not only illuminated the ecological changes and spiritual dimensions associat ed with mountaintop removal, but it exemplified one type of religious response to the issue as well. Mountain Justice journalist during the formation of many mountaintop removal resistance groups, including Mountain Justice, United Mountain Defense, and Climate Ground Zero, in the first decade of the 21 st century. Shapiro provided extensive details on the multiple debates, conflicts, and victories associated with radical activism in the reg ion. Though she concluded her research as I began individuals and groups as this dissertation, and though our analyses and driving questions differ,
32 it remains a valuable contribution to understanding the resistance movement to mountaintop removal in Appalachia. Scholarly work examining the interconnections of religious values and mountaintop removal are even fewer, and what does exist tends to focus primarily on Christ ians. Outside of popular newspapers and magazines, one of the first introductions to Christian resistance to Is God Green? s of the evangelical Christian community, including Richard Cizik (former Vice President for Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals) and Tri Robinson (pastor of the Boise Vinyard Church). Is God Green? also included a lengthy seg ment on mountaintop removal mining, focusing on the activities of Judy Bonds and Allan Johnson (co founder of Christians for the Mountains). Though problematic in its approach to mountaintop removal and simplistic in its presentation of Appalachian religi resistance to mountaintop removal and presented the issue as especially unique among movements of faith based environmental concern. Mallory McDuff, a teacher at Warren Wilson Col lege in Appalachian North Carolina, provided another brief introduction to Christian resistance to mountaintop removal with her Natural Saints (2010). In this chapter, McDuff d escribed a trip, organized by North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light (a local chapter of an ecumenical Christian environmental organization), t o mountaintop removal sites in E astern Kentucky. McDuff analyzed her experience in the terms of a traditional
33 mountaintop removal mining, as well as some of the key local activists such as Mickey McCoy and Father John Rausch, the chapter did not go into much depth about religious resistance in Appalachia. The best scholarly work on cases of religious resistance in Appalachia was published by 2011), which examined the work of local evangelicals and Christians for the Mountains, a non denominational faith based group in Appalachia focused on coal field justice. While some analysts understood evangeli Billings and Samson pointed out that evangelical work in Appalachia has important historical precedents. Using contemporary theories on cultural hegemony, including the power of language in esta and achieves social change), Billings and Samson argued that Christians for the Mountain s and other evangelicals actively challenged dominant perceptions of Appalachian religiosity and creatively responded to problems both within evangelical communities and within the broader public. Billings and Samson provided an especially important cont ribution to the critical literature on religion and activism in Appalachia, and it informs my own approach to the subject which expands the analysis beyond evangelicals toward other Christian and non Christian activists. 10 Though covering an era predating Work and Faith in the Kentucky Coal Fields (2009) provided valuable background on religion and the 10 Feldman and Mosely (2003) provide d another relevant study of Christian environmentali sm in Appalachia, though it did not focus on the issue of mountaintop removal specifically. The authors surveyed 20 initiative leaders in the re d that faith based groups provide d useful bridges between local people and environmen tal groups, but ultimately left more research questions for future work.
34 mining industry in Appalachia. Focusing on the coal camps of the early and mid 20 th century, Callahan examined the intersections of religion and work (and religion as work) and emphasized as one avenue to explore the ways that material conditions can give rise to religiou worldviews and helps readers to understand why Appalachians continue to support mountaintop removal when, in many ways, it contradicts some of their best interests. Though not entirely exhaustive, Montrie, Burns, and Scott, along with Loeb, Shnayerson, Reece, and Shapiro, represent the most influential scholarly and popular books on the history and environmental and cultural impacts of mountai ntop removal. 11 Other sources, however, provide useful foundations for Appalachian religious and economic history. Studying Religion in Appalachia: Difference, Denominations, and the Emergence of the Field Appalachia remains a region about which many out siders hold specific, often stereotyped visions. Ideas of Appalachia as separate from mainstream America and Appalachian people as originate after th e Civil War in th e writings of E astern authors and journalists. Though many of the early commentators on Appalachian life and culture have long been forgotten, the images they painted continue to influence scholars and popular audiences alike. Contemporary 11 Shannon Elizab eth Bell published several important articles related to mountaintop removal resistance that play important role s in my analysis, particularly her discussions of ge nder relations among activists. See Bell 2008, 2009, and Bell and York 2010. Likewise, Wes t Virginia University geography student Jen Osha completed her dissertation on a Foucouldian analysis of community responses to mountaintop removal in the Coal River Valley of West Virginia (2010). Kentucky authors Silas House and Jason Howard provided val uable interview data with many important anti mountaintop removal activists in their (2009). Other relevant articles include McNeil 2005, focusing on globalization and the increased mechanization of Appalachian mining, and Barry 2008, c mountaintop removal activism. Between 2008 and 2010 I noticed a significant increase in researchers attending activist events in Appalachia, perhaps indicating that a flood of scholarly publications on mou ntaintop removal is imminent.
35 historians mus t still spend considerable time addressing the stereotyped views of Appalachia and Whisnant (1983), and Batteau (1990) have already provided excellent analyses of the l iterary creation of Appalachia, it is necessary to briefly examine the literature against which contemporary scholars must react. Stereotypes The first influential commenta ries on Appalachian culture and religion ca me after the Civil War as many N ortherners travelled thr ough and surveyed the post war S outh. The the popular Lippincot in 1873 (in McNeil 1989:45 58). Based on travels through the Cumberland region of Kentucky in 1869, Harney provided somewhat sensational descriptions of the inhabitant s of Appalachia to his largely East C oast audience. As historian Henry Sha who mountainous portions of eight southern states a discrete region, in but n ot of America, and movement in the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries. Influenced by earlier novelists such as James Fenimore Cooper and Herman Melville, local colorists such as Mary Noailles Murfree and John middle class, na 1978:11). In the spirit of patriotism and industrial optimism among non S outherners that followed the Civil War, these authors attempted to describe and account for the diversity of t he
36 ostensibly reporting on real conditions, Shapiro argued that authors fre quently took artistic Focusing on otherness exaggerated and even created differences between the quaint primitive mountaineers and refined northern city dwellers. Many myths about Appalachian residents as a homogenous population measurably distinct from mainstream America spru ng from the pens of local colorists. 12 Combined, the works of the local colorists and later scholars contributed to a vision of Appalachia as inhabited by technologically backward people who, due to the dictates of their home terrain, preserved either medie val European cultural traditions or colonial pioneer ruggedness (depending upon the motives of the commentator). Whether backwards and pathetic ture), 13 Appalachian people where markedly distinct from the rest of the nation in the popular American imagination. For some, these traditions needed protection from outside 12 An article in the Journal of Appalachian Studies showed that attitudes of mountaineers as savage and strange were even conveyed through book covers. Meant to grab the attention of potential readers, book covers exagger ated the otherness of Appalachia and its people and the romanticized content inside (Plein 2009 ). 13 Though I will not go into it in great detail here, many of these early authors portrayed their Appalachian subjects as morally pure founts of manliness, a p from telling the truth about these people, even when it was far from ple asant; but I would have preserved strict silence had I not seen in the most backward of them sterling qualities of manliness that our nation can ill afford to waste. It is a truth as old as the human race that savageries may co exist with admirable qual it (1913: 391 stream of vigorous native manhood and charmingly simple womanhood, fresh, unjaded, unspoiled, and in the deepest sense, Ameri e in literature is available in Sponsel 2005.
37 exploiters; while for others, Appalachians needed outside support to elevate them selves out of their squalid conditions. Making the issue of Appalachian identity even more complicated, numerous contemporary anti heritage, and Scotch Irish and Cherokee identities remain pop ular among locals. Still, writers in the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries laid much of the groundwork for Appalachian studies that contemporary scholars have since corrected. Looking more closely at the shifts in perspectives on Appalachia among schola rs helps to explain contemporary popular and scholarly attitudes toward Appalachian culture, religion, and economics. Studying Religion in Appalachia: 1900 to 1970 In a reciprocal relationship with popular literature, early researchers and historians of Appalachia understood the region as profoundly different from the rest of American culture and sought to explain and correct that otherness. Many of the first commentators on Appalachian religion were Christian educators and missionaries from outside of t he region working to help harvest the bountiful crop of unchurched souls reputed to have burrowed back into the hollows, and to teach the swarms of children tho 1994:3). One such preacher and educator was John C. Campbell, a Presbyterian minister hired by the Russell Sage Foundation (a scholarly society based in New York City) in 1908 to report on the social, economic, and religious conditions of Appalachian mountaineers. 14 Following decades of research, Campbell concluded in his influential work The Southern Highlander and His Homeland 14 For more on John C. Campbell, his equally influential wife Olive Dame Campbell, and the John C. Campbell Folk School (established by Olive afte Appalachia), see Whisnant 1983, Chapter 2.
38 interest popular interest in Scotch Irish heritage in the mountains, Campbell explained Appalachian uropean ancestors to the Baptist faith fostered by wilderness conditions. Whil e Presbyterians in the lowland E ast could not send trained ministers to Appalachia due to staff shortages, Baptist itinerants found fertile ground in the relatively oversight fr ee Appalachian wilderness. 15 Coining full immersion baptism, characterized Appalachian religion, regardless of denomination. He taineers immersionists that the wisest ministers in churches that of a distinctive, overwhelmingly Protestant, Appalachian denominational history stuck. 16 Understanding and explaining this distinctiveness became a central objective for many later religious historians of the region. While Campbell and others painted the pic ture of Appalachian religion in broad strokes, focusing on sweeping denominational changes and institutional power structures in American Christianity, Emma Bell Miles provided a more detailed -almost ethnographic -account of religious life in the region. Working as a teacher near Chattanooga, Tennessee at the end of the 19 th century and early 20 th century, Miles recounted details of her interactions with mountain 15 evangelical moveme nts following the First and Second Great Awakenings, emerged in the ecclesiastical leadership vacuum following the Amer ican Revolution. As Hatch said, colored with interwoven strands of populist strength a (1989:16). Though focused on 16 James Watt Raine, in his Land of Saddle Bags (19 religion emerged from Presbyterians and European dissenters.
39 families in The Spirit of the Mountains (1975 ). Miles described attending a church se rvice led by Brother Absalom Darney, an itinerant preacher of unclear denominational affiliation. Amidst emotional practices of full immersion baptism in a nearby creek, Miles provided the details about early 20 th century Appalachian religious life other works simply glossed over Appalachian religion, as lived through the preaching of Brother Darney, was earnestly un  preferred term), emotional, fatalistic, and closely tied to the environment in which it arose. For example, Miles said of Brother Darney, with a note of sympathy shared by few other early commentators on tencies, whatever his ignorance, whatever the narrowness of his outlook on Scripture and theology and these failures are sure to be many, for no amount of education ever quite rids the mountaineer of bull headed contrariness he is certain to be, first of a ll, sincere, a man among men, fearlessly expounding the gospel as he clerical approach to ministry, Miles mou ntaineer in general] comes to feel, with a sort of proud humility, that he has no part of lot in the control of the universe save as he allies himself, by prayer and obedience, with the Order that 141). Again, Miles avoided s nide criticism of this fatalism as Finally, Miles concluded that Appalachian religion is distinctly Appalachian, emerging out of a specific geography and cultur e that is not shared with mainstream (or non Appalachian) environment rather than of the written Word although he would, of course, indignantly deny
40 that such is Appalachian religiosity. Other commentators, both in her day and later, noted the distinc tiveness of lay preachers and fatalism among Appalachian Christians, but Miles was unique in turning away from studying denominational lineages and toward studying Appalachian religion on the ground, as it was practiced by Appalachians in their own terms. Following the work of missionaries like Campbell and Miles, Appalachia regained national attention for its apparent backwardness and economic struggles following President entators on Appalachia from this time, though they sought to elevate the locals from their depressed conditions, harbored condescending and negative views of mountaineers. One such writer was Jack E. Weller, a Presbyterian minister working in Appalachia t hrough the 1950s and 1960s. In his widely read work (1965), Weller proposed models of difference between 163). Along with his comments on Appalachian culture and economic conditions, Weller described Appalachian religion in largely negative terms. While Emma Bell Miles compassionately described the earnest preaching of Appalachian ministers, Weller denounced the un intellectual and individualistic religion of this folk religion is based on sentiment, tradition, superstition, and personal feelings, all reinforcing the patterns of the culture. It is self centered, not God st medieval form completely out of sync with modern Christian thought. Mirroring earlier Bible is a magical book. He has a respectful reverence for it, but it is a reverence without
41 tradition. It was the job of real Christian s, or those who followed in American denominational 17 The War on Poverty era of the 1960s marked the entry of numerous other faith based to support Appalachian people by promoting economic extensions of Appalachian culture. 18 This newer era of cultural projects led many activists and scholars to call for newer, more sympathetic studies of Appalachian culture and religion; and some early anti poverty workers made up this newer generation of scholars. Studying Religion in Appalachia: Defining the Field, 1970 to the Presen t With the increase of Appalachian cultural preservation and economic improvement projects, scholars noticed the need for more research on the history and problems of the region In 1970, the A ppalachian Studies Center was organized at Berea College in Kentucky with Loyal Jones as its chair. The first publication of the Appalachian Journal sponsored by Appalachian State University, quickly followed in 1972. In 1977, the Appalachian Studies As sociation (ASA) formed as a scholarly organization for the study of issues related to Appalachia. The ASA also sponsored production of the Journal of Appalachian Studies In 1976, a planning meeting of scholars on the state of 17 characteristics of App alachian religion and a slightly more pessimistic perspective on the effectiveness of institutional religious change in the region. 18 Modernizing the Mountaineer (1994) remains one of the best studies of religious and governmental anti pov erty work in Appalachia.
42 education in Appalachia led to a special issue of the Appalachian Journal 19 This special issue gathered scholars from numerous disciplines to provide literature reviews and methodological recommendations for the study of anthropology, archa eology, folk studies, history, economics, a nd literature, among other disciplines in Appalachia. This issue also included an important essay by Loyal Jones on the study of religions in Appalachia which set the stage for the emerging study of Appalachian mountain religion (1977) was both a literature review and a methodological primer. In it, Jones emphasized the diversity of Christian denominations in Appalachia, as opposed to the more monolithic portrayals of reli gi on and culture by Weller and argued that more participant observation and study of relevant denominational histories and prim ary materials were needed to truly understand mountain religion. Jones noted that many of the previous st udies of religion in App alachia were composed by privileged outsiders. These outside commentators, he continued, simplified and have written of mountain religion as if we all worship alike. They have failed to observe the differences between g ro ups (Jones 1977:125). Proper study should take account of such differences. Along with the emphasis he placed upon the denominational diversity of the region, e study of moun t seems best to me to approach the study [of mountain religions] in two ways: (1) through attending mountain services in various sects and interviewing persons about their beliefs and (2) by reading background books and other materials on den ominational history and beliefs (Jones 1977:127). Studying mountain religion, for Jones, was not a purely intellectual, literary enterprise. It required emersion into the culture of the 19 Appalachian Journal 5 (1): 1977.
43 region and willingness to drop wha tever biases the researcher may have held before the initiation of study. Jones also offered interview tips and sources for background information on Appalachian denominations. In a much later book (published in 1999 though based on decades of interview data) Jones reiterated his emphasis on field understand Upland [Appalachian and Ozark] religion, one has to get out among the people and aid introducing the denominations, and alt hough he only discussed white Protestant groups, Jones stressed participant observation in the study of mountain religion Shortly after the publication of the Appalachian Journal special issue, the Center for Extension and Continuing Education at West Virginia University funded the publication of Religion in Appalachia edited by John D. Photiadis (1978a) The essays in th is volume focused mainly on the correlations between religious beli efs and poverty in Appalachia. Photiadis was influenced by Emile Durkheim and took a functionalist stance on the social origins of Appalachian mountain religions. The particular beliefs o f Appalachian Christians, he argued, arose to reduce the anxieties caused by industrialization in the 20 th century. he reason for the persistence of sectarian fundamentalism is that it performs important functions; in particular, it has helped low incom e and rural Appalachians alleviate anxieties produced by social complexity, and in particular the inability to fulfill expectations that the larger society, which has recently become an important sou rce of information, is creating (Photiadis 1978b:14). I n other words, Christian fundamentalist s in Appalachia sought a simpler world and found it in their religious beliefs. Fundamentalism emerged out of the increasing alienation of Appalachian
44 residents from their own land, due to increased industrialization and the greater, more advanced nation surrounding them. Religion in Appalachia was quickly criticized by other Appalachian scholars for its negative views of religion and its apparent social determinism. These critics, such as Melanie Sovine Reid, Joh n Wallhausser, and Loyal Jones, argued that religion was not just about connections between people, but about connections between people and the divine as well. Reid, an anthropologist working with the Appalachian Center at the University of Kentucky, res Religion is not just another name for economics or government or for that matter the unconscious. The challenge is to study religion as religion. Religion is distinctive in that it claims contact with the supernatural God as its goal. The challenge of modern Appalachian religious commentary recalls us to attempt a more complete understanding of religious beliefs themselves and to an understanding of systems of belief in general (1979:243) In a later essay, Sovine 20 offered a more lengthy critique of functionalist approaches to Appalachian religion, advocating instead an emphasis on religious belief systems over reductionistic generalizations fail to acknowledge the shades of religious meaning which are article included in Religion in Appalachia as a dissenting theoretical voice, called scholars to reme mber the socially positive functions o here are many and complex reasons why Appalachian people are the way they are, but w hatever they are, this much is clear: religion serves a vital need for them in the ir time and place and condition (Jones 1978:407). 20 In 1979 she published as Melanie Sovine Reid, though in later essays she published as Melanie L. Sovine.
45 John Wallhausser, a religion and philosophy professor at Berea College, challenged the simplistic portrayals of Appalachia n re ligion in the Photiadis volume as well. Wallhausser Regular Baptists of Kentucky. There, Wallhausser found that the easy denominational categories and crit er simply did not apply. The time for simplistic overviews and categorizations of Appalachian religions wa perspectives describing the particul ars (specifics) of mountain religious traditions need to be developed. These perspectives not only need to be more accountable to the people and the traditions they represent, they also need to be more theol ogically sensitive and informed (Wallhausser 19 83:6). Together, Jones, Photiadis, Reid, and Wallhausser formed the methodological and theoretical base for further studies of religion in Appalachia. By the early 1980s, they had established a research program for examining the subject, and l ater studie s continued these debates on the function of religion in Appalachia and the value of participant observation and sympathetic portrayals. Beginning in the 1980s, scholars of Appalachian r eligions such as Howard Dorgan followed the recommendations of Jones Reid and others and turned to more specific, ethnographic accounts which emphasized the diversity of belief in Appalachia while at the same time arguing that Appalachian religions were not as strange and socially regressive as they had sometimes previous ly been portrayed. These scholars argued for the relevance of the study of Appalachian religions to larger debates in religious studies and North American religious history. In Giving Glory to God in Appalachia (1987) communications professor Howard Dor gan described the preaching styles, worship practices, and architecture of six Appalachian Baptists denominations, namely, the Missionary Baptists, Free Will Baptists, Union Baptists, Primitive
46 Baptists, Regular Baptists, and Old Regular Baptists. In this work, Dorgan followed many of the important differences between them and support ing cultural preservation. Dorgan stated that his purpose with the Baptists was s imply to describe their practices objectively and add data to the study of reli gion in Appalachia while withholding judgments on them (1987:xxv). In the later work The Airwaves of Zion about popular Christian radio programming in Appalachia, Dorgan pro fe y purpose has been to capture, as vividly as I could, the Appalachian religious experiences I have witnessed, avoiding as much as possible both editorial jud gment and academic theorization (1993:xi xii). Another element of t his objective description included the recognition of difference among groups. While each of these groups belonged under the same general umbrella as Baptists, the differences between them remained important for their own self understandings and could not be ignored, he argued (Dorgan 1987:8). Finally, Dorgan envisioned his work as serving a preservationist end as well. He recorded many of the services for poster t is primarily descriptive, written to document religious cus toms so tied to the past that they may be in danger of extinction (Dorgan 1987:xxv). By applying many of the theories articulated by Jones, Reid, and Wallhausser, Dorgan helped to initiate a new stage in the study of mountain religion. 21 Following the g ains of the 1980s, the 1990s witnessed increased scholarly work on Appalachian religion, continuing in large part along the methodological and theoretical trajectories established by Loyal Jones and others. In 1995, Deborah Vansau McCauley published Appal achian Mountain Religion: A History the most comprehensive work on the 21 James Peacock and Ruell Tyson, Jr. also contributed to this era of Appalachian rel igious studies with Pilgrims of Paradox (1989). They argued that Primitive Baptists were not strange fundamentalists locked in medieval dogmatism (as they were generally portrayed by critics) but inheritors of Calvinist tradition with valuable perspective s on community and religious belief.
47 subject This work marked a new stage in Appalachian religious studies, taking a strong stance on the value of Appalachian studies and the importance of regional autonomy Moving awa y from the more specific studies of particular denominations, McCauley provided a history of mountain religions and an updated review of the important works in the field. Her work was of re ligion in Appalachia in general (1999:50, fn. 1). McCauley emphasized the distinction between mainstream religions that appear in Appalachia and religions that owe their origins largely to the App alachian experience, or those church traditions that are in the Appalachian region but not largely of it, mostly the denominations of American Protestantism, and those church traditions that exist predominately or almost exclusively in the re gion and are very special to it (1995:1). She borrowed Catherine Appalachian situation. In this way, McCauley accepted that Appalachian mountain religions owed some of their distinctiveness to economic, s ocial, and geographical causes. McCauley also critic ized privileged, liberal Protestant interpretations of mountain religion and, like many before her, called for the value of experience in truly understanding the subject. She t is fruitless to try to talk about the history of Appala chian mountain religion unless a serious attempt is made to create a feel for the sights and sounds of mountain worship life (McCauley 1995:45). Studying Appalachian mountain religion, she continued, requires a revision of research techniques. With litt le written material available compared to other North American regions, scholars of Appalachia must examine other practices s an emerging discipline, the study of Appalachian mountain religion challenges traditional categories o f historical research that have been dependent on a pl ethora of written documentation (1995:477). Scholars must examine oral histories, material culture,
48 testimonies, preaching, and other forms of expression to find necessary information about religion i n Appalachia. As Loyal Jones noted as early as 1977, intellectual history alone will not do for the Appalachian context. 22 Finally, Christianity in Appalachia (1999a), edited by Bill Leonard, provided another significant contribution to the field of Appala chian religious studies. Leonard gathered essays by many of the major figures in Southern and Appalachian religious studies on various Christian denominations in the region, including for the first time two articles on Catholics 23 As the subtitle indicat ed ( Profiles in Regional Pluralism denominational diversity in Appalachia and reflected upon the developments of the field in region, but many; it is not one culture but is composed of a multiplicity of cultural and social exp eriences, ideals, and subgroups (1999b:xvi). multiple expressions evident in a wide assortment of communions (1999b:xviii). Leonard helped to solidify the already important theme of religious diversity in Appalachian studies. Beginning with the work of Loyal Jones and John Photiadis, moving through the corrections of Melanie Sovine Reid and John Wallhausser, and then the more spe cific studies of Howard Dorgan, and culminating with the volumes of Deborah Vansau McCauley and Bill 22 The Roots of Appalachian Christianity In this highly detailed study, Elder John Sparks (a Kentucky based Baptist preacher himself) located th e emergence of many specifically Appalachian religious forms through the debates of late colonial era Baptists. Much like Nathan Hatch (1989), Sparks argued that Stearns and other early Baptists developed a uniquely populist religious form that, while roo ted in New England and the Piedmont, flowered in Appalachia. Sparks also included a 290), which provided numerous further resources and details about Appalachian Bap tist denominations and covered ground that M cCauley only briefly discussed. 23 and Evangelization (1999), and Immersion in Big Stone Gap: From South Side Chicago to Southern Appalachia (1999).
49 Leonard, Appalachian re ligious studies developed from a response to lacunae in scholarly attention to the region into a sophisticated discipline with specific methodologi cal and theoretical positions. By the end of the 20 th century, the study of religion in Appalachia had moved from simplistic, overly romantic or dismissive portrayals to objective, if not sympathetic, scholarly discussions. Despite this development, the field remains young and is not without certain limitations. S everal issues raised in the early literature ne ed further exploration as the discipline develops. These include the further discussion of religious diversity (not just Protestant diversity) deeper analysis of migration and globalization in Appalachia, and more critical examination of the interactions between identity politics and Appalachian religion, both among religious practitioners themselves and among the scholars who study them. Though scholars from Jones to Leonard have called for recognition of the diversity of religious beliefs in Appalachia they have still focused primarily on Christian denominations and their white male leaders. An early hint of the non Christian diversity of the region came in the writings of H. L. Mencken. Mencken described the arrival of a rabbi named Marks from Nas hville at the Scopes trial in Dayton ( Mencken 1991 ). Beyond a few notable cases, such as Mencken and Weiner (2006), studies of Appalachian religion have largely ignored the lives of Jews in the region. Catholics, too, have largely been neglected and trea ted as a group that only entered the area through European immigration during the mining booms of the early 20 th century, though many Catholics arrived in Appalachia as early as the beginning of the 19 th century (Boles 1976:52). Despite these hints of div ersity, Appalachian religious studies still focused on Christian mainly Protestant, denominations. Moreover, it tended to focus on uniquely Appalachian denominations such as numerous Baptist forms, neglecting any unique, localized developments in larger denominations such as the Episcopal Church of America. After
50 the year 2000, corresponding to similar trends in religious studies in general, new studies of non Christian religions in Appalachia and the exp eriences of women and other races and ethnicities began to appear. This occurred perhaps because of growing recognition of the neglect of non confidence among Appalachian scholars of non Protestant bac kgrounds. Some i mportant contributions to the study of religious diversity in Appalachia include Mountain Sisters (2004) about the Glenmary Sisters who worked on issues of poverty and education in the region, and Beyond Hill and Hollow (Engelhardt 200 5) an edited volume on a. The work of women and non Protestants is critical in the movement against mountaintop removal, so more work is needed to explain their historical experiences in the region. Appalachian religious studies must also consider more carefully the importance of migration and globalization in Appalachia. Often perceived as a relatively isolated region dominated by evangelical Protestants, contemporary researchers point out that international, multi reli gious connections existed from even t he earliest colonial period of S outhern history. Scholars such as Beth Barton Schweiger, Donald Mathews, and Jon Sensbach chall enged simplistic portrayals of S outhern religiosity and argued that numerous other factors have influenced the d evelopment of a complex S outhern religious history that frequently finds itself masked by historians who emphasize only evangelical denominationalism (Schweiger and thern religion is to convey that there was an air of inevitability about the outcome of the eighteenth century studies. While Loyal Jones, Deborah Vansau McCa uley, and others have elucidated the
51 dynamics of Appalachian religious history in spite of the biased portrayals of the 19 th and 20 th centuries, their works still follo w the model of the evangelical S outh, focusing on the permutations of local Protestant d enominations with little acknowledgement of outside, non Appalachian factors in that history. Other recent sources such as Peacock, Watson, and The American South in a Global World Globalization and the American Sout h (2005) explore international and c ross cultural dynamics through S outhern history. These are perspectives that would help move the study of Appalachian religion further. Especially since mountaintop removal (and the whole history of American coal minin g) is tied to industrialization and international fossil fuel based economies, acknowledging multinational dimensions to Appalachian history is essential to understanding the response of locals to mining. Incorporating theories of mobility into the study of Appalachian religion likewise helps scholars understand the changes brought about by the multiple migrations into and out of the region, from the great out migration following the coal crashes of the early 20 th century, to the current immigration of non Appalachians to work in the increasingly technology driven coal industry. A final issue needing further consideration is the interplay between identity politics and religions in Appalachia. Loyal Jones frequently identified himself as a regional a nd religious insider to Appalachia (1999b) Deborah Vansau McCauley sharply criticized the skewed portrayals of mountain religions by regional and religious outsiders (1995:9) Clearly, for these scholars, local identity plays an important part in determ ining the right to speak for the people of Appalachia a nd even the ability to understand the region. As with other religious traditions and groups, being an insider to Appalachian religion seems to give one a certain degree of authority among academic aud iences For clari ty alone, scholars must reveal where they stand relative to
52 the people they study, but regional studies should avoid becoming too isolated. Religious and regional outsiders add important viewpoints, and religious studies in Appalachia wo uld probably suffer from the outright rejection of those views, though none of the authors mentioned above s uggest such an extreme position If insider identity is so important, more clarity is needed on the meaning of that identity. McCauley (1995:7) an d Leonard (1999b:xix) argued that Appalachi an identity is not the same as S outhern identity and that Appalachian studies should not be treated a s a subset of S outhern studies, though they ad mit that similarities remain. They argued that Appalachian Studie s deserves the respect of an independent field, but scholars should not overemphasize the differences and neglect the important connections that exist betw een Appalachia and the S outh. 24 Clarifying the nature of Appalachian identity and its importance to t he field could be an important step in moving the field forward. As Chapter 5 shows, questions of identity are not just academic concerns; they create real problems between supporters and opponents of mountaintop removal on the ground. Emerging in the l ast quarter of the 20 th century, Appalachian religious studies is a relatively new area of the broader scholarly inquiry into United States regional religious history. Though certain features of Appalachian religious studies have not matched developments in the more general f ield of S outhern religious history, researchers from the region have nonetheless made large steps in establishing their field. By analyzing religions outside of traditional Protestant and evangelical histories and by taking an interdi sciplinary and multinational view of mountaintop removal, this dissertation advances the field of Appalachian religious studies in some of the areas that I propose are necessary. Themes expressed by McCauley, Jones, Leonard, 24 Much work on the nature of s outhern identity has already been done. Notable examples include David E. Whisnant, All That is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Region (1983) and James C. Cobb, Away Down South: A History of S outhern Identity (2005).
53 and Dorgan appear in the analy sis of Christian resistance to mountaintop removal (both mainline and evangelical), though this dissertation expands upon the religious study of Appalachia by including other religious forms, such as dark green religion. Modeling Coal and Culture: Compet ing Visions of Mountaineers and King Coal Beginning with the local color authors of the 19 th century and moving through the 20 th century, scholars and journalists have attempted to describe the complex relationship between Appalachian culture and the coal industry. Discovering how coal mining in Appalachia has been viewed in the past and today helps to understand contemporary visions of mountaintop removal among locals and activists. When activists speak of Appalachia as a colony to outside corporate inte rests, they do with the backing of decades of historical scholarship which has argued a similar point. Likewise, when coal mining interests cite an apparent lack of economic options in the region, they do so from a long history of blaming Appalachians for their own economic problems. A brief examination of scholarly interpretations of Appalachian industrialization and poverty is necessary to sort out these conflicting claims. Culture of Poverty Since the late 1800s, writers and researchers have questioned what, if anything, makes Appalachia unique. For a number of decades, popular writers, social workers, and historians Appalachian culture a distinct, unique entity and Appalachian people as a kind of ancient people in the modern age, inherently prone to poverty due to genetic and environmental factors. 25 By 25 Hi storian Ronald L. Lewis provided an excelle nt review of critical scholarship on literary constructions of Appa lachia by demonstrating that, when viewed from the perspective of the preindustrial era, Appalachia was not much different from other regions of nineteenth century rural America. Therefore, the pervasive assumption that modern economic problems in the reg mus 38). Another excellent historiography of Appalachian identity and cultural Back Talk from Appalac hia (1999).
54 this model, Appalachians needed outside assistance to preserve their culture and elevate their society into t he industrial era ( Lewis and Knipe 1978:13 15; Billings and Blee 2000:8). 26 Based in the writings of local colorists and others from the late 19 th century, culture of poverty models gained prominence in the 1960s. In his widely influential The Other Amer ica of the poor. To be impoverished is to be an internal al ien, to grow up in a culture that is radically complex than simply blaming the victim, Jack Weller also presented a strong culture of poverty perspective in his analysis of Appalachian problems. In Weller began by (1965:161 suc cess, Weller argued that Appalachians were too traditional and fatalistic to allow themselves material success. He claimed that one of the central obstacles to elevating mountaineers out of their impoverished condition was the mountain people themselves: want to change. He has found his way of life satisfying enough, and he looks on persons of other classes without a trace of envy or jealousy. He does not want to be like them. It is important for us who work with those in the f olk or working class to know and understand this. We too easily change developed from experiences with the Appalachian landscape, Weller continued. He said, t as the rubbing shoe, unknown to the wearer, begins to put calluses on the foot, changing its 26 th and early 20 th century authors from what rather than simp ly describing the culture of Appalachia, entailed actual economic inputs to the region (Walls 1978).
5 5 contour, so the mountaineer has had calluses rubbed on his mind and soul, worn there by the constant brushes of his life against a tight environment and an econo my that denied him room to model of Appalachian development. The troubles of Appalachians derived primarily from their and it remained the responsibility of well intentioned outsiders to elevate the reluctant mountaineers out of their impoverished conditions. Though now generally dismissed, culture of poverty models were embraced by scholars of the 20 th century. Because t his idea that Appalachians themselves were deficient was not criticized and was based in popular perceptions of the place and its people, few scholars were shocked when British historian Arnold Toynbee casually noted in his Study of History Appalachi ans present the melancholy spectacle of a people who have acquired civilization and disappeared, either. Rebecca Scott found evidence in her study of miners t hat some still explain the persistence of poverty in the region along culture of poverty lines. One of her respondents, a West Virginia down, from parent to chil d; they d you knew that Mom and Dad went to the mailbox the third of every month and got a check. perspective i s still present, most scholars and activists have since turned to alternative explanations for poverty and dependence in Appalachia. Internal Colonialism Models Beginning in the 1960s and early 1970s, as debates over strip mining and coal industry contro l over Appalachia intensified, scholars turned to new models to understand the history of Appalachian industrialization and poverty. Where culture of poverty theorists viewed
56 industrialization as either good for mountaineers or prescribed alternative prog rams to uplift individuals from their desperate states, proponents of the internal colonialism model viewed Appalachian industrialization and the development of the coal industry as an extension of exploitative capitalism (Billings and Blee 2000:8). Theor ists described Appalachia as an internal U.S. colony, where resources were extracted for the benefit of those outside of the region while costs were borne entirely by the locals. The solution to Appalachian poverty, then, was not necessarily the continued development of extractive industries or government aid, but the elevation of regional autonomy and economic diversification. Later historians and sociologists such as John Gaventa, Ronald Eller, and Wilma Dunaway built upon the colonialism model, drawing in some cases upon the work of Immanuel Wallerstein on global capitalist theory. Sociologist Dwight Billings (who remains perhaps the most important contemporary theorist on Appalachian culture) offered a political economy approach to the subject, emphas izing the interconnections between legal, political, and economic systems in Appalachian history. While these different theorists disagreed on important points, and while still others offered different theories entirely, most now explore Appalachian pover ty and the development of dependence upon the coal industry as situated within larger economic networks, and not just an inevitable condition following Appalachian culture. One of the earliest proponents of a version of the colonialism model was the Kentucky author, lawyer, and activist Harry Caudill. In his influential work Night Comes to the Cumberlands (2001 ), Caudill prese nted a wide ranging history of E astern Kentucky, from the arrival of the first European settlers through the e conomically depressed 1950s and early 1960s. The book became relativel y popular among environmentally conscious readers and
57 activists around the nation (Billings and Blee 2000:12). 27 influential in later policy decisions regarding the region. In an afterword published in a 2001 government intervention in Appalachian poverty led directly to War on Poverty policies, including the formation of the Appalachian Regional Commission, later in the 1960s (2001:399). industry exploitation. Unlike previous writings on Appalachia completed by autho rs from outside of the region, Caudill pointed to the influence of outside business interests and their history of environmental exploitation, from the timber and land barons of the 19 th century to the national coal companies of his day. For Caudill the s ituation was complicated, depending in part upon certain decisions of Appalachians themselves; but the central cause for the depression of Appalachia was the has resources while returning little of lasting value. For all practical purposes the plateau has long constituted a colonial appendage of the industrial East and Middle We st, rather than an integral oppression into his other writings as well. In a 1963 interview with the Louisville, Kentucky based Courier Journal Magazine Caudill stat ed that he wrote Night Comes to the Cumberlands because dominion for the rest of the nation The Cincinnati Enquir er Caudill claimed similarly, t he region cannot prosper as long as it remains a 27 The Foreword was signed by Stewart Udall, then Secretary of the Interior.
58 vast colonial terr itory ripped by absentee owners (Caudill 1968:12C). As one of the most important critics of strip mining in the 1960s and 1970s, Caudill greatly influence d a generation of activists and scholars who sought to remedy the troubles of Appalachian people. Appalachian history for what some saw as poor research, easy genera lizations, and even cultural elitism. Steve Fisher, a political scientist and former president of the Appalachian Studies research, striking inconsistencies in his tho ught, his genetic theory of Appalachian development, (1984:268). Though one of the most ardent supporters of Appalachian people, Caudill was hardly romanti c, and some of his co nclusions about E astern Kentuckians rankled some readers. Although in his view mountaineers were exploited by external coal investors, Caudill also believed that they were still, in part, responsible for their own poverty. Decades wi th the most promising students leaving for better education and employment opportunities outside of the region left Appalachia populated by unmotivated Welfare dependents who largely lacked the faculties necessary to wrest the region from coal industry con trol (see Caudill 2001, Chapter 18, 28 Significantly for Caudill and later theorists, however, while Appalachians were responsible for some of their own suffering, their contemporary state of dependency was not due to their 8:1). 28 Along the same lines, i and the Appalachian Sperm Bank thinking that tr oubled some who knew him well ( Harry M. Caudill Collection, Box 2, folder 9 )
59 These arguments proved highly influential for the development of later versions of the internal colonialism model. Lewis and Edward E. Knipe, first presented in 1970 at the meeting of the American Anthropological Society and later published in an edited volume by the same name (Lewis, Johnson, and Askins 1978). Lewis and Knipe were 9) work on social revolt among African American the Appalachian context, Lewis and Knipe argued, because it accounted for the places of technology and resource colonized have resources, natural or human, which are useful to the colonizer. If these resources can be harnessed, the technological superiority of the colonizer is further enhanced, thereby increasing the degree of superiority. Thus the resources of the colonized perpetuate the continued, is marked by the redistribution of property from small s cale, local landowners to the this intrusion, and that the area is controlled by rep Since these conditions exist, it would appear that any recommendations for change should take these factors vol ume, Lewis and Knipe reframed many of the driving questions of Appalachian studies and situated formerly insular Appalachian history within global political and economic trends.
60 g sociologists and other scholars in the 1960s and 70s toward theorizing how economic processes between nations kept poor nations politically, economically, and cultural dependent upon lified one form of dependency theory. Beginning in the 1960s, Wallerstein developed his analytical method by observing economic inequality around the world. Taking a historical view, Wallerstein focused on the emergence of the capitalist world economy of constantly expanded as long as further production is profitable, and men constantly innovate new 2000: 83). This capitalist world economy required three str which is enforced by strong states on weak ones, by core states on (Wallerstein 2000: 86 ). In other words, core nations draw resources and capit al from periphery regions. This dynamic not only established unequal exchanges between employers and employees, but between the nations that socially and politically benefit from resource extraction and those that suffer from it. In the following decades Wallerstein elaborated greatly upon his thesis, but the core idea quickly gained ground among Appalachian schola rs who argued that the wealthy East C oast represented the true capitalist core of the U.S. system, while Appalachia represented its periphery. Following the early articulation of an internal colonialism model of industrialization by Lewis and others, scholars continued to expand upon the theme, testing it through various permutations of Appalachian history. In the early 1980s, sociologist Joh n Gaventa and historian Ronald Eller wrote two highly influential books in the early 1980s that helped further define modern studies of Appalachian economics and culture.
61 Power and Powerlessness (1980) remains one of the more widely read books on Appalachian industrialization. Focusing on mining and union activities in the Clear Fork where one might intuitively expect upheaval, does one instead find, or app ear to find, under the domination of both coal company owners and union officials, did not challenge the very system that oppressed them. Ultimately, the answer t o these questions centered on power and the ability of those in power to continually promote their interests and influence the attitudes deprived group or cl ass may be seen as a function of power relationships, such that power serves for the development and maintenance of the quiescence of the non elite. The emergence of rebellion, as a corollary, may be understood as the process by which the relationships of power Gaventa proposed a three tiered model of power dynamics: power of the elite over the non elite powerlessness of the non elite, maint ained through the activities of the elite, that serves to prevent even thoughts of resistance) (1980:13 historical study, he also aimed at understanding and developing methods for contesting the structures of econo mic inequality in Appalachia. In support of his theory, Gaventa examined the history of mining in the Clear Fork Valley, covering the entrance of mining corporations into the region in the late 1800s to the
62 union struggles of the 1960s and 70s, including t he volatile Tony Boyle administration of the United Mine Workers of America union. Significantly, Gaventa portrayed this history (like Helen Lewis) as one of internal colonization (though he also acknowledged certain caveats in the use of that term) (1980 development of social stratification and the establishment of absentee, concentrated economic 57). These social an d economic changes generated the unequal situation of contemporary Appalachia, led to the development of classes of powerful and powerless, and stifled resistance among locals, Gaventa concluded. It was not biological or cultural faults of the mountaineer s themselves that led to Appalachian poverty (as culture of poverty models contended), but a long history of economic and social exploitation by outside forces. In a clear articulation of the internal colonialism view of Appalachian history, Gaventa concl of the Appalachians has been upon and within the land. But since the colonization of these rural valleys by industrial capital in the late 1800s, the ownership of the land has been separated fr om then, was also one of the alienation of mountaineers from their land. Writing only two years after Gaventa, historian Ronald Eller continued an internal colonialism analysis of Appalachian history and challenged previous culture of poverty models. 29 In his highly influential Miners, Millhands, and Mountaineers poverty of Appalachia has not resulted from the lack of modern ization. Rather, it has come from 29 on and 9).
63 commentators contended, but victi urbanization and industrialization, the rise of corporate capitalism and the bureaucratic state, the development of a national market economy, the concentration of political and economic power, and 1982:xxv). After surveying the economic, cultural, and environmental changes of the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries, Eller concluded that Appalachian poverty was grea tly exacerbated by exploitation conducted by outside interests, much like other colonies throughout history. Stating within its borders, the southern mountains r emained comparatively poor not because it was backward, but because its wealth enriched the modernizing centers in other parts of the country. World countries that p arguments that poverty and dependence in Appalachia derived from outside exploiters. 30 In the decades following the publications by Lewis, Gaventa, and Eller, Appalachian Studies has grown substantially as a field and a later generation of scholars, including sociologists Dwight Billings and Wilma Dunaway, has continued to analyze the social and political dynamics of industrialization in the region, drawing upon sociological research. As early as 1974 Billings raised questions about internal colonialism models of Appalachian history, suggesting that more work on specific communities was needed to flesh o ut the actual dynamics of poverty in the region (Billings 1974). Influenced by social movement 30 Theologians have also r ecently turned to Appalachia in contemporary considerations of post colonial theology. Catholic theologian Michael Iafrate suggested that Appalachia presents a useful site for the continued analysis of religious responses to colo nialism. See Iafrate 2010.
64 theory, Billings continued his research through the ensuing decades. In 1995, Billings, along with colleagues Mary Beth Pudup and Altina Waller, edited a colle ction of essays entitled Appalachia in the Making, presenting alternative approaches to Appalachian pre industrial they argued for the necessity of understandin g Appalachian history in the longer term and collection from historical studies preceding them is both the effort to push the examination of mountain social life ba ck further in time and the effort to deconstruct the concept of an essential earlier scholars such as Lewis, Gaventa, and Eller with making necessary contributions to Appalachian studies, the authors of Appalachia in the Making sought to push the field beyond simplistic internal colonialism models. With sociologist Kathleen Blee, Billings advanced his most detailed argument in The Road to Poverty (2000), which pre sented their research on Clay County, Kentucky. Combined worth of data on Clay County communities, local hereditary and political ties, and economic history. Based on their data, the authors criticized the internal colonialism models of Caudill, poverty and economic development by reducing political domination to a coro llary of economic Blee 2000:14). Instead, Billings and Blee suggested that the foundations of Appalachian poverty
65 and Blee, e arly internal colony models too easily posited distinct eras of agrarian simplicity versus industrial oppression, overseen by Dickensian capitalist villains. Taking a longer view, Billings and Blee unearthed roots of Appalachian poverty in pre industrial economic and political systems. Perhaps one of the most insightful observers of Appalachian scholarship, Billings believes that recent research shows movement toward a third era of Appalachian studies raditionalist subculture and as a though surely this change has been decades in the making (2009:2). 31 While Billings and others pushed Appalachian studies in different directions, other later scholars built upon previous models, such as world syst ems theory. Sociologist Wilma Dunaway provided the most detailed and extensive world systems analysis of Appalachian environmental and industrial history in her work, The First American Frontier (1996). Like Billings and Blee, Dunaway located the entry o coal barons. Appalachia remained a capitalist frontier, or a transitional zone betw een two and economic boundary between traditional Native American economies to the west and the capi talist culture of the colonial e ast. Indeed, Dunaway contin settlers emigrated from zones that had been incorporated into the modern, capitalist system 31 Billings also studies the sociology of religion and the role of religion in promoting social change. In articles such d Scott 1994), Billings examined 1990: 1 2). Influenced by the sociological writings of Antonio Gramsci, Billings argued that religion in the southern United States h as been tied to class formation. Religious leaders could made this choice the voluntaristic dimension of social conflict was influenced by the political process o f class history
66 before the region was repopulated, it is historically and theoretically inappropriate to categorize inhabitants as preca Settler Appalachia was born capitalist [italics in between pre industrial and industrial Appalachia, and focus instead on the longer term dependency crea ted by the global capitalist system. Significantly, Dunaway acknowledged that the long term economic changes brought by European immigration also dramatically changed human relationships with the land. She concluded, beginning in 1700, the local instit utions that dominated in Southern Appalachia were articulated with the structural dynamics of the capitalist world system. This long incorporation process entailed a reformulation of the economy, the local state, and the culture. However, social institut ions were not the only elements to be irrevocably altered. Once this external arena was absorbed, its natural and human resources were reorganized as factors of production and exploited to maximize outputs for global commodity chains (Dunaway 1996:285). In other words, capitalism alters social structures as well as visions of nature. This set the stage for Appalachia to be viewed as a resource colony, worthy only for the economic value of its trees, minerals, and labor force. The coal barons, then, did not necessarily impose an exploitative worldview onto the otherwise environmentally sympathetic mountaineers. Instead, the roots of environmental exploitation were set centuries in the past. Together, Billings and Dunaway situated contemporary Appalachia n problems in longer historical processes, necessitating that future scholars acknowledge pre industrial Appalachian history in order to explain contemporary economic, social, and environmental problems. In his work, (1994) historian Paul Salstrom likewise employed a version of world systems analysis on Appalachian history.
67 Critiquing internal colonialism models and supporting his own position, Salstrom said, colonial the adjective peripheral best describes A position. Although it is not on the fringe of the international economy but within a italics in original). Appalachians remain vital members of the American economy, but through their labor which is simultaneously devalued by the capitalist system. Salstrom stence labor reproduction were not kept within Appalachia they were diffused outward into the entire American cost labor was valued very xxxvi). This led to the current situation of unequal access to resources and capital in the Appalachian region, or what (1982:xxv). Though Billings, Dunaway, and Sals trom criticized internal colonialism models, they still largely blamed capitalism for the poverty and environmental struggles of mountaineers. While the perspectives of Billings and world systems analysts remain highly influential among Appalachian schola rs and activists today, others have criticized these approaches and offered different arguments regarding Appalachian industrialization. In 1991, Crandall Shifflett published Coal Towns in which he argued against the reigning Marx inspired views of Appal achian industrialization. Mountaineers were agentic in their transition from agrarian to industrial societies, he argued. Indeed, to many mountaineers industrialization was a welcome solution to the increasing pressures
68 of growing populations on agricult ural life he real keys to rural Appalachia both preindustrial and postindustrial are family, fecundity, and mobility, not stasi s, alienation, and immobility. Mountain families struggled to preserve their way of life, not by resist ing change but by accommodating themselves to it Though he acknowledged the hardships brought by industrialization, he concluded that to speak of colonial oppression overstated the historical truths. Robert Weise likewise emphasized the agency of pre industrial mountaineers in the transition from agrarian to industrial society. In Grasping at Independence industrialization was not an invasion; it originated out of the conflicts that emerged from the hardships inherent in the household society as well as from the machinations of tension, seeking both independence and material security. While a desire for independence led mountaineers to question corporate interests, the desire for material security led them toward coal towns and industrial employment. Finally, Rebecca Scott, in her recent work on race, gender, and mountaintop removal, charted new theoretical ground for conceptualiz ing Appalachian industrialization. Scott criticized internal colonialism models for their persistent power and powerlessness (Scott 2010:13). For Scott, Gaventa and o thers problematically assumed the presence of independent subjects for their analyses. Her work strove to move beyond such assumptions through post structural analysis, as she explained, theories of the subject emphasize to what extent all identities are coalitional, partial,
69 concepts of identity, Scott added further analytical lenses to the discussion of analysis of the complex interactions between these objects race, gender, class, and nature requires respecting their irreducibility while recognizi ng their mutually unique perspective on the social and economic dynamics of Appalachian history, differentiating her work from earlier models and opening a new path for future research. 32 Theorizing the transition from agrarian to industrial society has been a central concern of numerous Appalachian scholars. Behind this research lie important questions regarding the relationship between Appalachia and the rest of the United States, the economic and cultural place of rural societies in contemporary culture, and the roots of the current Appalachian coal based mono economy. Conclusion Reviewing this substantial body of literature on the religious and industrial histori es of Appalachia has been important for several reasons. First, it provides the first survey of scholarship on mountaintop removal and Appalachia that integrates religious and industrial histories. 33 It has been necessary to establish the underlying assu mptions and methods of each 32 Debates over industrialization, society, and modernity have continued in the pages of the Journal of App alachian Studies and scholars continue to develop the primary theories associated with their discipline. Of particular relevance are articles by Elvin Hatch (2008) and Susan Keefe (2008). Though differing in their methodologies and conclusions, both art iculate d novel perspectives on modernity in Appalachia, concluding that the region exists in a Western modernity (Keefe 2008: 171). 33 See Eller 1982:243 262; McCauley 1995: 469 4 77; and Billings and Ble e 2000: 3 24, for example. The Appalachian Studies Association also maintains links to numerous bibliographies of Appalachian scholarship online. See http://www.appalachianstudies. org/resources/bibliographies/ (accessed May 21, 2011).
70 al expressions of faith. My own methods have trajectory established by previous scholars. Sociologists such as Billings and Dun a way likewise argue that the con temporary coal industry cannot be understood outside of its historical, political, and cultural context. The work presented here likewise follows the suggestions of previous scholars, situating mountaintop removal and its resistance in the broader context of Appalachian human/nature relationships. Second, I argue that mountaintop removal, and local resistance and complicity toward it, continue directly from historical precedents that are generally neglected in popular presentations of the issue. For examp le, few popular media portrayals of mountaintop removal today acknowledge the long history of (sometimes radical) local resistance to strip mining. Many contemporary groups owe many of their insights on local organizing and direct action methods to their mid and early 20 th century predecessors. Religious complicity and dissent toward mountaintop removal, likewise, follows from long, sometimes contradictory histories of otherworldliness (tending to eschew questions of politics and social issues) and socia l concern (emphasizing justice for the poor and needy). For these reasons it is essential to fully understand the events and assumptions that directly led to mountaintop removal and its resistance. Furthermore, academics and activists often work together in Appalachia, or are at least conversant with each other through local media reports and public meetings and conferences. Both scholars and activists are generally considered in documentaries about mountaintop removal, and most of the long time activist s I met during my fieldwork were very well read in Appalachian history and the critical perspectives found in it. Academic theories and historical
71 data, then, transfer to activists who employ them in their own political discourse (Taylor 2010:75 77). An observer at anti mountaintop removal rallies will no doubt hear versions of the internal colonialism model of Appalachian poverty repeated enthusiastically. Indeed, this was the case for my own research. The scholarly work reviewed above, then, is not ju st abstract interpretation of historical data, but information that persists in active conversation with academic, activist, and popular audiences. Finally, understanding earlier work on Appalachian history helps to contextualize and explain the many inno vations developing in the current anti mountaintop removal movement. Contemporary religious resistance to mountaintop removal has clear antecedents in earlier protest movements, and many of the views of the coal industry and its role in directing Appalach ian society derive from a lengthy and ambivalent history of industrialization. At the same time, though, the contemporary movement diverges from earlier history. Appalachians are finding new religious languages to express their environmental values, and anti mountaintop economy, rather than an isolated cultural backwater. These changes become more visible when viewed against the backdrop of Appalachian history.
72 CHAPTER 3 FROM FARMERS TO MINE RS: RELIGIOUS, ECONO MIC, AND ENVIRONMENT AL CHANGES IN APPALACHI A, 1776 TO 1930 Central Appalachia has long been known for its coal, and many of the earliest explorers knew of its presence in the area. For example, in his N otes on the State of Virginia Thomas Jefferson noted burning coal seams near the Ohio and Monongahela Rivers in western Virginia (1785 :30 31). 34 When Frederick Law Olmsted traveled through the mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Vi rginia in 1853 and 1854, though, he made no mention of coal or mines. Instead he described numerous small farmers, depending largely upon rye and corn and livestock such as cattle, hogs, and sheep (Olmsted 1907 ). Before the Civil War, account revealed, the people of Appalachia were not known as miners, but as subsistence farmers scratching their livings from the narrow valleys of their mountainous home. It was not until the Industrial Revolution and the widespread interest in coal tha t Appalachian economies shifted toward providing the fossil fuel to national markets. Though coal is virtually synonymous with Appalachia in the contemporary imagination, The practice of mountaintop removal did not emerge in a vacuum, but was built from cultural and economic changes that began with the entrance of train lines (that opened the region to easier resource extraction) and the timber and coal indus tries and their concomitant social reorganizations (including the formation of company towns and work camps). With the deed) and cultural acceptance of coal mining a s appropriate labor. All of these physical and cognitive changes made possible the eventual development of strip mining, and later, 34 West Virginia did not become a distinct state until June 20, 1863, when Unionists in the region voted to separate themselves from the state of Virginia, which had seceded durin g the Civil War (Willi ams 1976: 76).
73 mountaintop removal. 35 Just as mountaintop removal is not fully comprehensible without first explaining its historical prec edents, so too is its resistance. Since the unionization process of the early 20 th century, Appalachians have fought against coal industry excesses. Many of the locals who resisted the entry of strip mining in the region in the middle of the 20 th century had direct ties to this previous union organizing; and these individuals, combined with anti poverty and civil rights workers of the 1960s, likewise directly influenced the development of local and regional environmental and social justice organizations i n the late 20 th and early 21 st centuries. Contemporary mountaintop removal and attitudes toward it are indelibly tied to these historical changes. Appalachia in the Early Republic Looking westward from the British colonies before the American Revoluti on, Appalachia was a formidable boundary to the myste rious territories beyond. White hunters and trappers like Daniel Boone traveled the area in the early and middle 18 th century, but the toughness o f the terrain and recurring conflicts with American In di an tribes kept all but the most determined settlers away. Following the Re volutionary War, Americans looked west in greater numbers to the less populated lands beyond the mountains Soil depleti on in the coastal and piedmont S outh, combined with increasi ng population, necessitated this westward migration (Craven 2007). By the late 1700s, enough settlers had crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains to form the states of Tennessee and Kentucky. In 179 0, 80,000 individuals lived in S outhern Appalachia, primarily i n the foothills and along major rivers (Davis 2000:97). Meanwhile the Cherokee and other native peoples were forced onto reservations of decreasing size until their removal to the 35 It is essential to note, too, that increases in mine output occurred in response to increases in demand from North American markets. Mining in Appalachia was never only an Appalachian issue.
74 Oklahoma Indian Territory in 1838 (Davis 2000; Williams 2002). 36 While man y settlers crossed the mountains into the western farmlands of Tennessee, Kentucky, and beyond, relatively few stayed i n the mountainous regions, and Southern and C entral Appalachia remained sparsely populated self 1982:6). Families preserved subsistence farms in the fertile valleys and hollows, and despite the unique features of geography, life was relatively similar to other rural regions of the United States at the same time. 37 Religion in Appalachia, 1776 to 1850 European migration patterns into and through Appalachia also played a role in the development of religion in the region. Like other frontier areas, Christian denominations tended to be weaker in the mountainous regions during the 18 th and early 19 th centuries. While Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians established themselves in the more populated areas west of the Appalachians, their theological control remained tenuous at first. As John Boles explained for 18 th lagged far behind population; denominational bickering dispirited those relatively few who esembled the rest of the S 36 Though of course, not all Native peoples mad e the trip. The Eastern Band of Cherokee retain s a reservation bordering the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in western North Carolina, and many locals involved in contemporary anti mountaintop removal work cite Native heritage as a central element t o their religious connections The Eastern Band of Cherokees, 1819 1900 (1984) and Cherokee Americans (1991). 37 T his agrarian condition did not mean Appalachia rema ined distinct from the broader North American capitalist economy See Billings and Blee (2000) and Dunaway (1996).
75 1997:3 27). What was for some a theologica l vacuum, though, presented for others a unique opportunity for spreading otherwise controversial messages. In the former British colonies, many communiti es were identified by centrally located churches that served as social, political, and religious foun dations for the surrounding famili es (Isaac 1982:58). The widely scattered communities of Appalachia did not support the establishment of many community churches, as existed in the flatter lands of the nation. Instead, preachers travelled to the people. Methodist and Baptist itinerant preachers travelled deep into the Appalachian hollows, spreading their early evangelical messages and helping to establish the local forms of Christianity that would later characterize the region. These early preachers did not evangelion 2003:16). In the 16 th and 17 th The term gained greater specificity in the han ds of later reformers such as John Wesley, Jonathan has continued to be redefined up to the modern day) (Noll 1994:8, 2003; Chapter 6). According to historian Nathan Hatch, the spread of this new evangelical movement in the lat e 18 th and early 19 th centuries derived largely from a post Revolutionary religious populism, (Hatch 1989:5). The growth of revivals and evangelical denomination in the 19 th century, then,
76 drew upon a general cultural movement throughout the nation; and because they operated far from the restrictive gaze of o lder theological elites on the East C oast, the early evangelical missionaries in Appalachia were largely fr ee to operate without censure. Historian John Boles generally agreed with Hatch on the reasons for emergence of evangelicalism in the region. The lack of established churches across frontier Appalachia and the relative remoteness of family groups left ma ny 18 th and 19 th century migrants to the region longing for religious fellowship. member th century Appalachia presented ideal geographical and social conditions for the development of the forms of evangelical Christianity that would later come to define the region. 38 Baptist and M ethodist preachers travelled widely through Appalachia following the American Revolution. In August of 1801, a particularly famous camp meeting was held at Cane Ridge, Kentucky. Numerous Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist preachers and thousands of wor shippers (and probably curious onlookers) gathered for several days around the Cane Ridge church. Often incited by the exuberant preachers, worshippers frequently fell into fits of shaking, dancing, barking, and fainting. While in the 18 th century such e xpressions were widely feared and criticized, preachers and worshippers at Cane Ridge and elsewhere understood these physical responses as a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and thus they were encouraged. Numerous other camp meetings an d revivals followed across the S outh throughout the 19 th 38 Others remain skeptical of these arguments, though. For Melanie Sovine, social functional and environmental determinist arguments improp erly present Appalachian religious history out of its b roader social context. She said n group may be understood only in terms of itself in isol ation from other influences ( Sovine 1983: 65).
77 century; and in time, people involved in evangelical denominations came to dominat e Southern politics and society Evangelical Christianity was never a monolithic entity, however. Evangelical groups were never static, but they changed, fragmented, and coalesced over the following decades. In the first quarter of the 19 th century, the national Methodist denomination officially moved away from some of the charismatic worship practices that characterized the Grea t Revival. Appalachian region retained older Calvinist views of predestination (the idea that God preordains all souls to either heaven or hell) while other groups began em phasizing free will (or that individuals have the ability to choose a path to salvation). Evangelical relig ion was not uniform across the S outh, then, but from a very early point exhibited regional permutations, including in Appalachia (McCauley 1995:46 4 7). Over time, Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian groups fragmented into smaller sub denominations and other movements, such as the charismatic Holiness movement and the Disciples of Christ, took hold throughout the region. All of these changes led to the development of what Deborah Vansau McCauley, Loyal Jones, and others 43) The previous chapter outlined some of the characteristics of Appalachian mountain religion as well as many of the problems associated with its study (i.e., stereotyped and dismissive views among scholars and ministers in the early 20 th century). In the context of Appalachia in the period between Revolutionary and Civil Wars, however, it is most important to remember that a set of unique characteristics differentiated religion in Appalachia (in its ritual and theological forms) from other parts of the na tion, including even other rural regions of the S
78 theological and social trends throughout the nation. Thus, when the coal industry came to Appa lachia it entered an area with a complex, unique, and adaptive religious history. It was in this pre industrial era that many of the foundations of Appalachian faith were set the same faith that would ultimately guide many opponents of mountaintop removal The hegemony of evangelicals in the region can be overstated: they did not entirely define religion in 19 th century Appalachia. Furthermore, while evangelicals shared some common origins, beliefs, and practices, they also differed significantly, as J ohn Boles explained, different waves of migrants entered from dif ferent regions of the United States (such as conscripted African American workers from the Deep Sou th) and from Europe (primarily E astern Europe and Italy), they also impacted the religious demographics of Appalachia. Following the American Revolution, ma ny Catholic landowners and families moved westward into Kentucky from the former Catholic colony of Maryland. By the beginning of the 19 th century, French and Belgian priests established a see in Bardstown, Kentucky, and Benedict Joseph Flaget was appoint ed the first bishop of the state (Boles 1976:65). When Catholic immig rants from Italy, Ireland, and E astern Europe arrived in Appalachia in the second half of the 19 th century to work in the mines and on the railroads, they entered an area with an already established Catholic presence, small though it was. The economic changes of industrialization likewise brought Jewish immigrants into the region. Though they never existed in great numbers, Jews were visibly present throughout Appalachia particularly in county seats, where most business was conducted by the middle of the 19 th century. As Deborah Weiner, one of
79 coalfields but were an integral part of the region ethnic groups brought by the coal boom. If their appearance seems anomalous, it is largely 7). It is easy to imaging pre industrial Appalachia as a land dominated by enthusiastic, radical evangelicals, but when the first coal companies entered the region in the second half of the 19 th century, they entered a region in denominati onal flux, where faith remained a diverse enterprise. These religious changes did not emerge in a social, political, and ecological vacuum. While the early 19 th century witnessed the establishment of evangelical denominations throughout the region, th e latter half of the century witnessed the widespread shift from decentralized, subsistence agriculture based communities to the camp town life of industrial Appalachia. Industry in Appalachia: Railroads, Forests, and Mines Beyond the reports of explorers cited by Jefferson, coal was discovered along the Ohio River in the late 1700s. Small mines existed throughout Appalachia to serve local needs, and Native Americans had used coal long before the arrival of Europeans, but few of the large, profitable mine s for which the region would later become known existed until well after the Civil War (Freese 2003). As Ronald Eller explained, throughout most of the antebellum period, the difficulties of transportation, the absence of any real market, and the deep ag rarian biases of southern leaders had prevented the large scale development of the mountain reserves. In the years immediately following the [Civil] war, however, a sudden rush of activity in commerce, investment, and new technology focused increasing att ention on the mountains as a source of materials to fuel the industrial revolution (1982:44).
80 Instead, the large scale coal industry first developed in the flatte r coal fields of Pennsylvania, W estern Kentucky, and Ohio. Locals and outside speculators a nd travelers knew of th e mineral and timber wealth of C entral Appalachia long before the end of the 19 th century, but it was not until the 1870s that technology and national need led to the development of timber and coal indu stries in western Virginia and E astern Kentucky. For economic purposes, many of the earliest railroads bypassed the most mountainous regions of Appalachia, but as demand for coal increased following the Civil War, growing networks of railroad lines, connecting major cities on the E a st coast to Appalachian centers such as Pittsburgh and Chattanooga and then fur ther on to major cities in the W est, penetrated the region. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad first crossed the mountains of C entral Appalachia in the first half of the 19 th cent ury, connecting the towns of Baltimore, Maryland and Wheeling, West Virginia (Williams 2002:148). In following phases, more companies constructed lines through the region, reaching some of the remotest regions of West Virginia and Kentucky in the early de cades of the 20 th century (Williams 2002:229 230). The entry of railroads in Appalachia tied the region to oast (Lewis 1998:53). Along with the self interest provided the physical means for resource extraction in the region as well as the necessary cognitive connec tions with the industrializing E astern r egions to support resource extraction as Coal, however, was not the first major industrial boom in C entral Appalachia tied to the railroads. While mining in Pennsylvania and the western coalfields helped fuel the Civil War and Industrial Revolut ion, the chief resource of S outhern Appalachia remained its vast stan ds of
81 old growth trees. Once at least as high as the contemporary Himalayan range, the Appalachian Mountains are widely considered the oldest in the world. Over millions of years, the Appalachians were spared from the deforestation brought by glaciers and sea level rises. Through various climate permutations, different species migrated to the Appalac hians in search of more hospitable lands. When the climate returned to its earlier state, many of the migrants remained in the hills. This natural history has left Appalachia as one of the most diverse bioregions on the planet, including an extensive, di verse, old growth, mixed hardwood forest (Frick Ruppert 2010:5). In the 18 th century, when quality forest products were already becoming scarce on the East C oast, the giant chestnuts, oaks, and hickories of Appalachia were highly appealing. The growing, agriculture based population of 19 th century Appalachia applied the first in the region, the extractive industries gained in prominence and output. While sm aller timber producers operated throughout Appalachia earlier, environmental historian Donald Davis placed the origin of full scale industrial logging in 1885 (2000:166). The associated economic timber boom lasted roughly 35 years, providing timber for gr owing populations across the United States from about 1885 to 1920 (Lewis 1998:131). During this time, wealthy investors brought technologies to the region, such as narrow gauge railroads and steam powered saw mills, which dramatically increased the speed and efficiency of logging operations. Increased logging in steeper and steeper regions led to a dramatic increase in erosion and flooding by the beginning of the 20 th century. In the 1930s, the first National Forests and the Great Smokey Mountains Natio nal Park were created in Appalachia as a means to help prevent over exploitation of forest products, but much environmental damage had already been done.
82 Besides the steam powered saws of loggers, the Appalachian forests received another major blow with t he introduction of the chestnut blight, first noticed by a New York forester in 1904 (Davis 2000:193). The great American chestnut was one of the most important trees on the East Coast. Fully grown trees provided bushels of edible nuts, a valuable source of protein for humans and other animals, including livestock and game animals such as deer. Chestnut wood was also naturally rot resistant, making it an important source of lumber for houses and fences, leather tanning. Within a few decades these versatile trees, that could grow up to 150 feet tall, largely disappeared. For Davis, the death of arguably vital, subsistence culture in the mountains. The loss of the tree no doubt gave additional advantage to the forces of industrialization that were gaining a stronger and stronger 198). Although America n chestnuts persisted in small pockets throughout Appalachia, the blight removed them as a viable resource for local communities and served as a marker of the transition from a culture of subsistence agriculture to the period of industrialization the perio take his throne. artifacts and goods from peripheral regions into the previously isolated area. They permanently connected Appalachia to t railroad connected local communities to the national markets and, as elsewhere in rural America, exerted a profound influence on the way people lived. They were lines of communication that m ade available newspapers, the telegraph, and the telephone, which also integrated Appalachians 65). Railroads (and their well meaning
83 investors) also brought industrial era education to the hills. These ne w curricula supplanted folkways and traditional forms of education (Corbin 1981:7). The railroads also transported new populations of immigrants and workers, seeking small pieces of the economic boom happening across Appalachia. New immigrants from Euro pe and former slaves from the S outhern U.S. often made their ways through the Appalachian forests and mines in their searches for prosperity. In West Virginia, for example, the number of African American miners increased from zero in 1880 to almost 12,000 in 1910. In the same time period, the number of miners born in Europe increased from 924 to 28,000 (Corbin 1981:8). The interactions of different groups led to the development of Appalachian culture as it is frequently understood today. The railroads a lso provided paths out of the region. When the coal economy turned downward, leaving many with few options for survival, many Appalachians made their ways via railroads to the major industrial centers such as Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago. This continu ed pattern of immigration and emigration created complex kinship networks of Appalachian familie s in the mountains and the Mid W est that persisted through the present. Specifically regarding the future development of mountaintop removal, though, perhaps t he most significant import to Appalachia made possible by the railroads came in the form of land agents, industrial managers, and their lawyers, who brought with them the legal and economic means to wrestle the land out from beneath the feet of Appalachian s. The main tool for this process was Following the increased demand for coal during the Industrial Revolution, wealthy investors sent land agents deeper into Appalachia to purchase land as future sites of industrial hubs and for the potential valuable minerals beneath the surface. Through the last quarter of the 19 th century, industrialists like Alexander A. Arthur, the so
84 and James Bowron purchased tens to hundreds of thousands of acres of land in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee (Gaventa 1980:47 48; Davis 2000:163). Where possible, they built industrial towns and encouraged the immigration of new classes of specialized workers to the region. Where the terrain prevented the construction o f towns, agents simply purchased mineral form deeds passed combinations of th eers and subsistence farmers, broad form deeds offered easy money because, in practice, the soil contained much more value than the minerals beneath it. At ten to fifty cents an acre, the deeds seemed like a good deal. Broad form deeds ultimately benefit ed the purchasing companies, widespread, intensive coal mining both possible generally allowed the owner to retain a sense of ownership, allowing him and his family to continue living and paying taxes on the land until the company decided it wanted the minerals (Eller 2008:38). In some cases, the minerals were purchased but the land not touched by the companies to use any means, including strip mining, to access their mineral property (Weise 2006:1574) 39 39 See Chapter 4 for more on the legal battles against broad form deeds in the 1950s and 60s ; also Montrie 2003:66
85 Not all signors of the deeds did so willingly or knowingly. Several land agents were prominent members of local communities hired by the various companies specifically to exert their influence over the mountaineers. When the person bringing the deed employer or preacher, as was frequently the case, residents felt unique pressures to sign (Caudill 2001 :73 74; Begley 1987). Along with such social coercion, land agents also exploited deed in 1906. Because the family patriarch was illiterate, the deed was signed with only three e generation responsible for signing away the mineral rights had passed away, in 1950, the deed holders returned to enforce their rights and extract the coal (Gibson 2009). Kentuckian Joe Begley, in an interview with the Kentucky Oral History Commission, produced a for 27 cents an acre (Begley 1987). Because many residents could not read or understand the complex legal language of the deeds, and because many, lik names with unique symbols rather than script, land agents succeeding in securing many deeds from families who did not originally intend to sell. If a mountaineer refused to sign, for example, an agent could simply print courts would question such signatures, and since many deeds were enforced generations after contest the mountaintop removal, with bulldozers and giant drag lines, was inconceivable to many in the
86 ability to shift to strip mining, and later mountaintop removal, in the second half of the 20 th century (Eller 2008:38; Caudill 1973:59 60). 40 While con temporary residents generally recount the era of broad form deeds with great sadness and regret, historian Robert Weise argued that scholars should not understand the deeds as extensions of a purely exploitative outside force of industrialization. Instead part of the willingness to sign the deeds derived from pressures internal to Appalachian agricultural society. For Appalachian farmers at the beginning of the 20 th century, mineral sales meant a new way to deal with the continuing problem of debt, a new strategy to strengthen what was often a precarious hold on their property. For farmers whose land and livestock might all be mortgaged to the local merchant, a couple hundred dollars in hard cash came in handy. Mineral sales made good, rational sense fo r farmers, given the shaky financial situation in which they found themselves (Weise 2001:259 260). Appalachian farmers, driven by indigenous views of gender and social structure, strove for greater autonomy, and the sudden availability of previously un tapped wealth seemed to many to be a means toward increased independence. Weise added that, despite oral histories, evidence does not always support stories of overwhelming deceit and intimidation among land agents (2001:257). It is important to remember Weise would argue, that the accounts of Joe Begley and Larry Gibson came long after the War on Poverty era of Appalachian history, when citizens perhaps grew more conscious of the outside factors leading to Appalachian poverty. Begley and Gibson were al so prominent critics of strip mining and mountaintop removal, a fact that likely restrained view of the broad form deed and Appalachian industrialization. This did not absolve the coal companies for Weise, however, as he acknowledged elsewhere regarding the original 40 The public outcry against broad form deeds provided one of the e arly victories for activists against strip mining in the 1950s and 60s. See chapter 4.
87 corporate domination and poverty that defines the co Though the original signors of broad form deeds may have done so more willingly than their descendents believed, it remains the case that the deeds set in motion a chain of events that would lead to the overwhelm ing corporate control of Appalachian property, which made possible strip mining and mountaintop removal (Eller 1982:63). Life and Work in the Coal Towns: Maintaining the Industrial Status Quo However one theorizes the transition from agrarian to industrial life, the change was physically marked in Appalachia, as the population moved from scattered settlements to newer towns situated near the opening coal mines. By the beginning of the 20 th century, the transition of Central Appalachia from a land of local kinship networks and subsistence agriculture to an industrial c olony of wealth holders in the E ast was nearly complete. In some places, this transition occurred rapidly. A study of McDowell County, West Virginia, census records showed that in 1880, 88.5% of citizens reported themselves as farmers or farm laborers. In 1900, however, only 22% called themselves farmers while 36.5% termed themselves miners. This dramatic change was primarily due to increased immigration of individuals seeking employment in the mines (Lawrence 1983:55 58). While not every Appalachian county experienced such dramatic demographic changes, these figures nonetheless reveal the speed and thoroughness of the economic and social changes brought by industrialization in Appalachia. Significantly, the development of the coal industry and the influx of new workers forged stronger connections between Appalachia, its resources, and the international resource economy. Historian Ronald Eller summarized the process as follows: Prior to t he 1880s and 1890s, the Appalachian economy was locally oriented and designed to meet the needs of the resident population. Communities were small and, like the family farms, essentially self sufficient. The development of
88 railroads, coal mining, timber, textiles, and other industries came about as a result of growing demands in maturing industrial areas outside of the mountains, primarily the urban Midwest and East, and the new commercial order in the region emerged to meet those nonresident needs. Beca use the demands of the larger economy were for cheap labor and raw materials, and because outside capitalists quickly acquired most of the natural resources of the region, the bulk of the wealth generated by the new development s flowed out of the mountains The new mountain economic order, therefore, was highly dependent, labor intensive, and tied to the export of single extractive commodities (1982:227 228). According to Eller, this transition tied Appalachia to the international energy economy. For the first time to a significant degree, Appalachians offered their labor to an external industry that reaped the benefits of their work. Because the transition from small scale subsistence agriculture to an extractive mono economy was so thorough, Appalachian s were left with few options they could stay and work for the mines or logging companies, or having already sold their mineral rights, they could leave. This era established a pattern of economic, political, and psychological dependence upon the mining in dustry that would persist through the modern era of mountaintop removal. With the economy shifted toward the coal industry, Appalachia settled into a period characterized by tense stability. Company towns and coal camps became the primary centers in many Appalachian valleys, drawing landless families down from the higher hollows and employment seeking immigrants and merchants in from outside of the region. In the period between 1880 and 1920 the coal industry solidified its hold over Appalachian economie s, politics, and society. As the control of the means of production and material wealth shifted more into the hands of the wealthy, absentee elite, the citizens of Appalachia were left with few choices but to support the system. Ronald Eller explained th e significant social shifts marked in also provided an introduction to organized community life and the setting in which new attitudes,
89 values, and social instit towns sometimes revolted against the dominance of coal companies, but they were ultimately unable to weaken the grip of coal companies on the region. In 1910, near a pinnacle of the p re World War I mining b oom, 78.8 percent of miners in S outhern West Virginia and 64.4 percent of miners in E astern Kentucky lived in company owned towns. Significantly lower percentages of miners lived in company owned towns in other mining regions of Pen nsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois (Eller 1982:162). While families remained in the rural regions of Appalachia, the coal counties witnessed the greatest population growth, and so the population balance of the region shifted greatly toward the coal towns. Mos t coal towns were stratified, spatially and socially, along lines of class, race/ethnicity, and gender. Following Gaventa (1980), there were four specific classes in most coal towns. visited the mines and coal camps that produced their great wealth, their interests were represented by a second class of residents, the Tennessee, the members of this class generally came from outside of Appalachia and were (Gaventa 1980:57). 41 Unlike the owners, though, Harry Caudill suggested that the class of managers would at least work to understand and in some ways imitate the culture of 41 Ronald Eller cited a survey of 140 coal mine operators, from extremely wealthy corporate heads to the owners of independent, small scale mines, showing that nearly 78% of them were born outsid e of southern Appalachia (1977:196 197). He concluded capital and business leadership into the South in the years following Reconstruction, it does appear that, for a large portion of the Southern mountains at least, men from outside the region were a dominant force in determining the nature and direction of 196 197). Historians like Eller are frequently careful to not present industrialization in Appalachia as purely a movement of outside forces oppressing locals (though for a good counterargument, see Dunaway 1996). However, I have found many locals and activists, through my interviews, who find this outside oppressio n model favorable.
90 Appalachians (2001 :75). This class was further complicated by the group of prominent locals individuals from older Appalachian families who exerted a certain amount of social influence over the other residents. Through their allegiances to the owners and managers, these individuals frequently found themselves in positions of greater authority, either as bu siness owners or political appointees (Gaventa 1980:59). A subsection of this class could also include tipple (or the structure made for loading coal onto train c ars). Because miners were most local individuals moved up in socia l status. For example, Betty Slaven of Oneida, Tennessee, married a miner who eventually became superintendent at a mine in Cooperative, Kentucky (Slaven 1981). There also exist several examples of local Appalachians who rose to great wealth and prominen ce through the process of industrialization, including James Otis Watson (the born land baron), companies) (Caudill 1983; Shnayerson 2008). Each of these men represented the Horatio Alger type so beloved by Industrial Age society, and their existence shows that the social stratifications noted by Gaventa in Middlesboro should not be rigidly applied to all Appalachian contexts, though they remain generally appropriate. Excluding the examples of successful locals, mobility generally occurred along a horizontal axis: individuals from similar social standings (such as mountaineers from peripheral valley s who had recently lost their land to company land agents) met together at the core of the coal camps, where they often found similar work (Gaventa 1980:57).
91 profes camps from outside of the region, and in order to hold their positions often had to have positive relationships with the upper classes. These individuals frequently stood at the boundary between owners and laborers as merchants and doctors they served the needs of the poor majority, and they could occasionally side with the workers during periods of labor unrest, but at the same time they were often beholden to the ow ners for their social positions and, as keepers of company stores, they could become tools of social control by the owners over the laborers. 42 (1980:57). In Middlesboro, this class consisted mainly of local Appalachians, but in other towns this population consisted of significant numbers of immigrants and African Americans drawn from elsewhere in the South (Eller 1982:165). At least at the beginning of the 20 th century, most foreign born miners worked outside of Central Appalachia, in places like Pennsylvania and Illinois. Indeed, in 1890, 58.1% of Pennsylvania miners and 57.3% of Illinois miners were foreign born, compared to only 14% in West Virginia. H owever, West Virginia drew more African American miners. At the same time, in 1890, 21.5% of miners were native born African Americans, compared to only 0.8% in Pennsylvania and 2.5% in Illinois. John Laslett argued that this difference was due to the lo wer wages of West Virginia mines in the late 19 th century (Laslett 1996a:33 34). These stratifications became much clearer in the event of a strike, where those who controlled material goods (the owners) and those who managed them (managers, shopkeepers, and security) could withhold them from the lower class workers and union organizers. 42 Of course, not all stores were company owned and not all shopkeepers were directly employed by coal companies.
92 The social and racial stratification of coal towns was also marked in the physical arrangement of the space itself. Initially, town managers placed their employees in th e first intentionally segregated housing by race, employment, and co untry of origin (Lawrence 1983: 179 180). Racial and labor characteristics became the most significan t distinguishing factors in the towns (Shifflett 1991:60 66). 43 Edwin Adams, for example, born in the coal town of Benham, Kentucky in 1918, remembered distinct areas of the town: Hungarians, Italians, and Polish lived together, and black families in anoth er section. Robert Armstead (2002), a black miner who grew up in a segregated company town in West Virginia, remembered occasional tensions between blacks from his section of town and whites from the other side. While Armstead may have remembered general ly peaceful times, historian Joe William Trotter, Jr., provided a detailed account of segregat ion and racial violence in the S outhern West Virginia company towns of the early 20 th century. Racial tensions (including lynching) increased in Appalachia aroun d World War I as more African Americans left the Deep South for e mployment opportunities in the N orth (Trotter 1990). African Amer icans (who made up over 13% of S outhern West Virginia residents in 1930) frequently faced sub standard living conditions and segregated services and facilities, including churches (Trotter 1990:64). While racial tensions existed, there is significant historical evidence of union leaders intentionally challenging segregation in order to strengthen the union across racial lines, particularly in the Alabama coal 43 Historians differ on the impact of racial, ethnic, and class divisions in coal towns. For Ronald Eller, the physical, social, and economic space of coal towns themselves fostered animosity among different groups. This was an intentional design by company bosses, who preferred miners fight among themselves tha n with the company (Eller 1982: 170 172). For David Corbin, th ough, the physical orientation of towns fostered interracial cooperation. Individuals understood themselves more as members of an economic class than an ethnic caste (Corbin 1981: 61). It is beyond the scope of this dissertation to adjudicate which author
93 fields (see Letwin 1998; Kelly 2001; Woodrum 2007). Sometimes different races worked efficiently together toward common ends. Coal towns were also stratified along economic lines. Towns such as Van Lear and Lynch, bo (Butcher 1982). Betty Slaven, whose husband was a mine superintendent, remembered that the lived around the outskirts of the town (Slaven 1981). Jan Curls, of Cooperative, Kentucky, similarly reported spatial social divisions in her town. Poorer pe running water. They used communal outside pumps and privies, instead (Curls 1981). For David Corbin, a historian of Appalachian labor movements, class divisions proved more town foc the employer the coal operator enabling the miners to develop that sense of group oppression layed racial divisio ns (especially as compared to N orthern industrial cities), but his emphasis upon the formation of class consciousness could be connected to his interest in Marxist analysis of labor and resistance in the coalfields. Beyond the tiers amo ng different social classes, the numerous accounts of coal town residents and miners reveal that there existed levels of stratification among laborers based on age and skill as well. Younger miners frequently hauled the coal, while more experienced miners did
94 the actual digging and loading. 44 Bill Viras of Pike County, Kentucky entered the mines in 1916 mine, before moving on to shoveling coal. Viras also rememb ered that, in his mine, African American miners were not given dynamite like the white miners but were forced to dig the coal directly from the walls with picks. This racial division made their work much harder and significantly reduced the amount of mone y they could potentially make from their daily hauls (Viras 1977). As mining became more mechanized through the 20 th century, it created another distinction between those who worked the machines and those who dug the coal. Eventually, deep miners who wer e not trained in machinery operation were forced out of the industry as traditional hand loading jobs became increasingly rare. Animosity toward mechanization miners. Jim Lewis, for example, an Episcopal priest in West Virginia and long time activist, Along with their social status, women faced unique struggles in co al towns as well. According to historian Crandall Shifflett, gender and work distinctions gained more significance as families moved to coal towns. Whereas farm work required the entire family for its various components (planting, harvesting, handling an imals), only men and older male children worked in the mines. Women and younger children were left outside of the mining economy (Shifflett 1991:101). There were few jobs in company towns for women, and those that did exist, either as secretaries, store attendants, or teachers, were often highly competitive. Edwin Adams, a former miner and resident of Benham, Kentucky (located in Harlan County), noted that it was rare for ves and 44 For a detailed description of the process of non mechanized mining, see Dix What is a Coal Miner to Do? (1988: 1 27 )
95 daughters (Adams 1981). Some women, however, such as Sophia Conley from Van Lear, Kentucky, were able to find work outside of company towns despite the difficulties of travelling to and from work (Conley 1982). With fewer opportunities for employ ment within the company controlled communities, many women felt trapped. Jan Curls, the daughter of a superintendent from Cooperative, Kentucky, who later moved to the much smaller community at Blue Heron, Kentucky, married a teacher at the age of 17 larg ely due to a lack of other options and out of reared up to believe, su when you get old enough, which is 17 or 18, no later than 18, you get married and you have a husband that takes about anything else (Curls 1983). Th ough she admitted not wanting to marry at 17 (she and her husband were later divorced, after leaving Blue Heron), marriage represented a rare chance for Curls to leave the coal fields and explore opportunities elsewhere. ked sufficient social standing to acquire jobs in town, experienced tensions specific to their social station. 45 Working at home with children or in the interv iew with Kentucky miner Charley Crawford, the interviewer turned to his wife to ask about would happen to him. I never wanted him to work in the mines, but he did. 45 It is important to note that there have been women miners in Central Appalachia, though mainly aft er 1970, placing them outside of the historical purview of this particular section. For more on women miners see Moore 1996 and Tallichet 2006.
96 not so fortunate. While researching and interviewing for a book on the mining industry in the late 1960s, West Virginia reporter Jeanne M. Rasmussen met a woman named Alice Law. Law recounted ladies that rattled that old coal stove, m ade biscuits, fr ied white meat packed the dinner pail, it back. I got a smashed bucket, a pair of torn gloves, and a dirty jacket. My youngest child was no t yet six years old (Jean M. Rasmussen Collection: Acc. 352, Box 1, Folder 24). Feeding children in company towns was difficult enough with a male monetary provider. Poor women d the support of broader family networks to survive. Georgia Ivy Keen presents another example of the difficulties faced by poor mothers and Perry County, Ke ntucky. While her father worked as a miner, they family lived outside of father when she was only 13 years old, and both were illiterate. 46 When Keen was 7, her fathe r the family to Buckhorn, Kentucky, where they stayed initially with other family members. Eventually, many of the children were given away in adoptions. Despit e such tragic circumstances, Keen was adopted by a preacher in Buckhorn and later graduated from Berea College, becoming a nurse (Keen 1979). 46 Another famous Kentuckian from Van Lear Loretta Lynn married at the age of 13 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loretta_Lynn ) While most women married young, Lynn were certainly on an extreme end of the spectrum.
97 With so many sad stories of loss, hardship, and social divisions, there seems ample evidence for the un pleasantness of coal camps, especially when compared to an idealized agrarian past. Leading Appalachian historians (particularly those interested in supporting a colonial model of industrial development) often portray life in the coal camps as oppressive and constituted by complete dependence upon the company. For Ronald Eller, coal camps provided an essential tool for capitalist exploitation of Appalachia and its people. He argued, by monopolizing almost every aspect of community life, company towns ef fectively blocked the growth of local retail enterprises and diversified or supporting industries that might have accompanied coal mining. Since the profits from mining went to nonresident owners, the only benefit that might have accrued to the region its system, these too flowed largely out of the mountains (Eller 1982:198). As a result, mountaineers grew more dependent upon outside property owners, the coal industry, and market fluctuation. It may be true that control of local Appalachian economies moved from mountaineer families to outside businesses and that the coal camps served as necessary control mechanisms to perpetuate that shift. Such a claim requires extensive economic evidence. However, it is clear that coal town residents did not always understand themselves as exploited. There were several instances for celebration and relaxation in the towns. Some larger towns had movie theaters, generally owned by the company but staffed by volunteers (for example, Frances Turner, of Price, Kentucky, remembered her sister playing the piano for the silent movies shown during the summer). As with other parts of the nation, Hollywood films revealed new values and ambitions to mountaineers; as circuses also made regular trips through many areas. For those who could afford it, like many places elsewhere in the United States in the first half of the 20 th century, coal camp residents
98 based in Nashville, Tennessee (Perry 1981). Perhaps the most pop ular form of entertainment, pick up games and company teams on off days, while professional teams travelled the region, playing exhibition games and challenging t he best local players. Whether as players or observers, baseball games provided welcome breaks from the regular work day. To summarize, the social and economic situa tion in coal towns was ambiguous. It is true that, within a few decades, scattered, agriculture based communities transitioned to more centralized, employment based communities. This change impacted social and economic interactions between mountaineers and landowners, and between Appalachians themselves. It also corresponded with the as dominance in the region. Still, these changes remain open to interpretation by historians. For some historians (particularly those influenced by the internal colonialism perspectiv e introduced in Chapter 2 determination and to heighten social tensions and insecurities 1982: 198). Mountaineers ceded their political autonomy to coal company boss es and their 193). 47 This exploitative view is shared by many contemporary activists, who see the era of coal towns as representing the complete domination of traditio nal mountaineers by outside, capitalist forces. Design Collective, 48 provides an excellent example of this contemporary attitude (Figure 3 1). 47 David Corbin also supports this view of coal t 10). 48 The Beehive Design Collective is discussed in greater detail in Chapter 5.
99 houses are chained and locked to the gated, fortified mansion of the coal company boss. Even the store and church become part of the looming dominance of the company. The coal train forms a final border to their community, fully engulfing them in compan y power, from which they cannot escape. Of course, not all contemporary activists share this perception of coal towns, but it is pervasive. For others, coal towns provided answers for growing problems with the older agrarian system. In this perspec tive, the 19 th but a period of crisis on the land, agricultural decline, advancing tenantry, and a darkening future for the next generation. mining families brought to their social situation in the company 10). Crandall Shifflett challenged what he saw as historical simplification in the accounts of historians such as Eller and Corbin. He argued, little more than the creati The history of coal towns was indeed a history of paternalism, more or less, but paternalism was not some reductionist force operating independently of othe r forces. Age, sex, marital status, and generation were structural features Shifflett 1991: 3). Such scholarly disagreements reflect ambivalences among Appalachians themselves, including among contemporary oppo nents of mountaintop removal. As Eller and Corbin argued, company towns represented a significant cultural transition among mountaineers. At the same time, some remember the age of deep mining fondly, particularly as compared to the current era dominated by strip mining and mountaintop removal. Those who lived and worked in coal camps share this ambivalence. Edwin Adams, who was born in Benham, Kentucky in 1918 and later worked as a security guard in Lynch, Kentucky, remembered the social and economic
100 b enefits of coal town life. Coal towns also offered opportunities for individual advancement, ). For others, coal towns transplanted a more ideal prev ious lifestyle, free from dependence upon coal companies. Marvin Gullett, a Kentu cky miner, remembered stories of times before th e advancement of coal companies: people, said th at never was a freer life ever known at that time. It was, everybody they need, and they made their own clothes and everything. They had their sheep and their spinning whee ls and their, and their looms, and they made their clothes and quilts, whatever they needed. Everything else, they raised on the farm (1977). Though he did not live in that time, Gullett longed for the economic independence of pre industrial Appalachia. Of course, the accounts of Gullett and Adams need not be exclusive; in different ways they were probably both correct. Their evidence reveals, however, that the changes both brought by and instrumental to coal camp life were complicated and preserved in the memories of those who lived them. Religion and Coal in Appalachia in the 20 th Century Following the Civil War and advancement of coal company control in Appalachia, religious expressions in the region likewise changed. After the horrors of the war, A mericans turned to Protestant denominations in great numbers: major denominations such as Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and others more than tripled their memberships from 1860 to 1900 (Marsden 199 1:12). In the same time, many S outhern evangelicals broke with their N orthern counterparts. Initially abolitionist and critical of mainstream social divisions, evangelicals in the S outh gradually changed their positions through the 19 th century. By the time of the civil war, evangelicals had influenced w ealthy and powerful S outherners, and thus took positions of political and social power through the region These changes distinguished S outhern
101 evangelicals from those in the N orth (Heyrman 1997). By the beginning of the 20 th century the religious landsc ape of Appalachia an d the S outh was becoming more distinct from the rest of the nation. Along with these national changes, theological debates led to denominational transitions, such as the development of Holiness and Pentecostal groups, and further fragm entation of Appalachian groups into new sub denominations, such as the Missionary Baptists (Dorgan 1987; McCauley 1999; Wacker 2001). The Holiness movement emerged out of the camp meetings and revivals of the 19 th century. Many Methodist preachers emphas could undergo a rebirth and cleanse their souls of sin (to a degree), and thus live a fully sanctified life. Later proponents of Holiness emphasized the place of the Holy Spirit in this glossolalia, entered into Holiness worship practices (Dieter 1996). New groups such as the Church of God and Church of the Nazarene, along with numerous Methodist groups, emerged from the Holiness milieu. The Holiness movement led directly to the formation of Pentecostalism around the beginning of the 20 th century. Pentecostals (named after the moment in Acts 2:1 h of the Holy Spirit during worship. The Azusa Street Revival of 1906 and the work of popular promoters such as Aimee Semple McPherson helped spread the Pentecostal movement around the nation (Wacker 2001). The Holiness and Pentecostal movements led to t he formation of numerous independent churches throughout Appalachia and the rest of the nation. What tied these diverse groups
102 together was a continued focus upon the physical manifestations of the work of the Holy Spirit in believers. In Appalachia, som e members of these groups began searching for Biblical precedents for how the presence of the Holy Spirit during worship should appear. One important source was the Gospel of Mark. According to one passage (which is possibly a later addition to the origi nal gospel), following his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples. Among other messages, Jesus said to them, nd these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well (Mark 16:17 18). 49 Small groups of believers took this passage quite literally and began handling rattle snakes, drinking small amounts of poisons, and numerically strong, they represent a uniquely Appalachian religious development of the early 20 th century (Ki mbrough 1995). The Holiness movement in all of its permutations had a significant impact upon religion in the region. Origin of Species in 1859 generated further reactions among North American evangelicals, contri buting to the rise of Christian fundamentalism at the end of the 19 th century. With roots in the revivals that spawned the evangelical and Holiness movements, the push toward fundamentalism was largely a response to fears among conservative Christians abo ut liberal theology and what they saw as the moral decline of the United States and erosion of its Christian foundations. 50 Taking their name from a series of pamphlets called The Fundamentals published between 1910 and 1915 and funded by a 49 All Bible quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted. 50 It is important to rememb category (2006).
103 wealthy Califo rnia oil baron, fundamentalists generally questioned the intellectualism and humanism of the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries. Fundamentalists supported a literal reading of the Bible (including narratives of creation) and looked for signs of the impend ing millennium, based on interpretations of the teachings of the prophets and the Book of Revelations (Marsden 2006:118 119). Perhaps the greatest test for fundamentalism in the national spotlight was the Scopes Trial, held in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925. John Scopes, a high school teacher, intentionally violated the Tennessee state law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in public schools. The trial and media circus that followed, including debates between evangelical hero William Jennings Bryan and hum anist Clarence Darrow, typified the cultural clashes between Christian fundamentalists and secular America. The trial, thanks in great part to the coverage by the critic H. L. Mencken, contributed to negative views of Appalachian religion among non Appala chian observers that persisted well into the 20 th century. 51 Mencken covered the trial for the Baltimore Evening Sun and in his reports presented the residents and their religious beliefs as disturbingly retrogressive to mainstream North American intellec tual traditions. He portrayed the trial as a grotesque carnival, populated by fundamentalist Christians who, but for their modern clothing, resembled medieval peasants at a witch trial. Mencken levied his acerbic criticisms most directly at the fundament alist leaders who preached for a literalist reading of the Biblical story of creation. Fundamentalists, he argued, were cognitively inferior to rational humanis he so called religious organizations which now lead the war aga inst the teaching of evolution are nothing 51 Indeed, one of my interview subjects an evangelical environmental act ivist, cited the Scopes Trial as the central hurt relations with the religious community in a huge way during the Scopes Monkey Trial, and the whole evolution/creation debate, because after that they said, anybody that believes this is just a backwards idiot. And they
104 more, at bottom, than conspiracies of the i nferior man against his betters (Mencken 1991:563). These inferior men were defined by the absurdity and extremity of their views. In a late r article, Mencken continue t may seem fabulous, but it is a sober fact that a sound Episcopalian or even a Northern Methodist would be regarded as virtually an atheist in Dayton (Mencken 1991:572 he Book of Revelation has all the authority, in these theological uplands, of military orders in time of war. The people turn to it for light upon all their problems, spiritual and secular (Mencken 1991:577). Though to some degree accurate of ornful writings about the Christians of Dayton left lasting impressions among his national readership on Appalachian religion. 52 Among his harsh critiques of fundamentalists Mencken also provided an account of a s near Dayton. only by torches, mak ing the scene appear particularly primitive to the reader (Mencken 1991:578) At this meeting, Mencken witnessed one woman denounce the reading of any book but the Bible to the cheers of those around her. After more annou ncements, the preacher condemned the satanic forces present in Dayton. Later, a young woman entered the middle of reached such heights of barbaric grotesquerie that (Mencken 1991:580). Many of the participants began speaking in tongues and several entered into convulsions on th comic scene? Somehow, no. The poor 52 See pages 184 Fundamentalism and American Culture (2006 ). Mencken did not appl y these sharp critiques to all s outherners and Appalachian residents. He found many of the residents of Dayton to be welcoming and kind despite their stubborn dedication to what he saw as an irrational and socially dangero us doctri ne. See Mencken 1991: 570, for example.
105 half wits were too horribly in earnest. It was like peeping through a knothole at th e writhings of a people in pain (1991:580). Horrified, Mencken did not stay at the scene any longer. Sifting though many probably only found suppor t for their beliefs that Appalachian religion was profoundly abnormal. he lped promote a mistaken vision of Appalachian religious demographics. While in the 19 th century, Baptist and Methodist traveling preachers worked to gain converts through extensive traveling and preaching, by the early 20 th century, their denominations ha d come to dominate Appalachian religious demographics. Based on surveys from 1926, researcher Elizabeth Ho oker found that, of religiously affiliated mountaineers, 39.8% belonged to Baptist churches and 33.4% belonged to Methodist churches. 53 Put another w ay, over 73% of Appalachians were Baptist or Methodist at the end of the first quarter of the 20 th century. 54 survey, were other forms of Protestants, including mainline churches such as Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Holines s/Pentecostal groups. Finally, 2% were Catholic or Jewish (Hooker 1935:182). While the influence of Baptist and Methodist denominations across Appalachia Hooker m ay have found a greater number of Holiness and Pentecostal groups. Because of the emphasis placed upon denominational structure by early researchers of American religions, 53 Hooker did not include figures for those claiming no religious affiliation. 54 Hooker surve yed 17 representative counties from West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. The number s have not remained the same, though. According to the 2000 census, Baptists make up nearly half of religious observers in Kentucky and Tennessee, while they only make up a quarter of adherents in West Vir ginia and Virginia (Ownby 2005: 50 55).
106 including Hooker, independent and ad hoc meetings often went unnoticed. Richard Ca llahan takers and surveyors and While A ppalachian church goers were distinct compared to the rest of the nation, so too were Appalachian church institutions and officials. Hooker found that there were 3.25 churches for every 1,000 individu als throughout the central and S outhern Appalachian reg ions. These churches were generally quite simple. Seventy percent consisted of only a one room building, while another 11% of congregations had no official building at all, but instead used public spaces such as schools and meeting rooms. While the numb er of churches per resident exceeded the national average, only 1 in 50 churches had permanent resident ministers, compared to 1 in 4 nationally. Distinct from the rest of the nation, the majority of Appalachian preachers either traveled great distances t o serve numerous congregations (much like the original circuit riders and itinerants of the 19 th century), or were lay congregants of the churches designated by their winning 175). Unlike some contemporary portrayals (Figure 3 1), churches in coal towns were not always entirely controlled and dominated by the company, though of course, nor were they sites of gr eat resistance to mine bosses. 55 Somewhat surprisingly, coal towns generally reported less religious adherence than elsewhere in Appalachia. As Crandall Shifflett explained, the 55 Statement s such as Curtis Seltze he official God of the coal camp was the 19). Of course, plenty of examples of official religious support of coal bosses exi st. Following the outbreak of Wo rld War I, Bishop P.J. Donahue of the Catholic diocese of Wheeling, West V our country calls you as never before. Coal is King. You are his willing subjects. Today he is the greatest power Corbin 1981: 178). cannot be held as completely supporting claims like those of Seltzer.
107 institutional church, not to say Christianity itself, seems to have had surp risingly small influence upon mining families in coal towns. Nevertheless, nonchurchgoing miners still might describe 1991:196). 56 Nonetheless, companies generally supported the construction of chu rches as both a recruitment tool for workers and a way to satisfy their needs within town boundaries. As Shifflett again explained, according to economic logic, company funded churches part of the ideal of contentment sociology, predicated upon the belief that a satisfied laboring population would (1991: 191). Some churches were funded and built by town residents. Reflecting religious demographics of the time, most churches were either Baptist or Methodist, though in larger towns such as Lynch, Kentucky, there were also Catholic churches (Perry 1981; Adams 1981). Again, reflecting the statistics reported by Hooker, many coal camp churches did not have full time preachers. Instead, preachers would often travel regular circu its through many different towns, or if the congregation supported it, lay members would rotate preaching duties. Like other public areas, churches in coal towns were generally segregated until well into the 20 th century (Shifflett 1991:194; Adams 1981). Of course, residents were never forced to stay in coal for example, regularly travelled from Van Lear, Kentucky (where there were only Baptist and Methodi st churches) to a nearby town to attend the Church of Christ (Butcher 1982). Beyond its influence upon the physical structures of religious expression (such as churches in company towns), coal mining had a more subtle influence upon the religious liv es of individuals as well. Richard Callahan charted the internalization of work, coal, and religious 56 Richard Callahan makes a simil lived in a world patterned by an overarching sense of order, power, and mystery that had roots in both the Bible and
108 expectations among miners and mountaineers in his book on the early mining industry. For Callahan, coal, work, and the environment had reciprocal relatio nships with Appalachian religiosity. Cultural attitudes led mountaineers toward the hard work of the mines, and in return from the late 20 th century supported C coal and mining. Marvin Gullett, for example of Kentucky, ou and othe rs only entered the mines because of absolute necessity. Charley Crawford, a Kentucky miner who loaded coal by hand in the 1920s and 30s and who worked such long hours he often But that was the who first entered the mines at the age of 17, explained t he younger miners now have got it, know what r eally ha rd work is in the mines (1977). Advancements in technology after World War II greatly reduced the suffering of working miners, for Scarbury. The difficulties of mining held value, however, and Scarburry continued nd I liked it, and tha (1977). Though difficult, mining was an acquired skill, and as Callahan argued, this shared skill lead to social group formation. them from (Callahan 2009:103). Rather than simply tedious labor, miners understood deep complexities within the craft itself and learned to read subtle signs in the air and on the coa l face to help avoid disaster (Fishback 1992; Callahan 2009). As coal industry historian Keith Dix explained, coal mining was basically a craft job, with a skill level of its workers similar to that of iron molders, glassblowers, typographers and others who exercised broad
109 discretion in the direction of their work. These independent craftsmen learned their job during an apprenticeship period and, once having mastered the requisite skills, worked largely without supervision and at their own pace. The ear ly pick miner was not only in control of his job but also in control o f his own time on the job (1977: 105). efficiently of th e ability to perform great amounts of work with seemingly little effort. Marvin Gullett, for example, told the following story about a miner from the early 20 th been dead for y ears, his name was Bob Linden. He loa as much as three men could load. But he had some art about it; he never stopped. He kep t his shovel in a steady rhythm (1977). desirable (Fishback 1992:42 44). Envisioning deep mining experience as a craft has influenced more recent perceptions of strip miners. The work of mining itself has led to important self identification markers since the explosion of the industry in the late 19 th century. Of course, issues of race and gender played s a resolutely gendered space, and To be a miner in eastern gendered understanding of work, embodied in the heterosexual white male breadwinner, [that] gives shape to a specific configuration of masculinity tha t gains moral worth from family wage is not only to be a man, as Callahan put it, but to be tied into an economic and political concept of citizenship and identity that stretches
110 beyond the coalfields. Adding this dimension to work helps explain why people continue to suffer through difficu lt working conditions and what they gain beyond simple economic benefits. This becomes even more relevant in arguments supporting mountaintop removal among contemporary miners and their families. Racial distinctions also contributed to miner identity. In contrast to many other industries of the early 20 th century, African Americans were allowed to take positions of greater skill within deep mines. Historians offer different reasons for this unique working situation during the era of segregation. The a bsence of women in the mines, for one, precluded fears among white leaders of improper contact between black men and white women. As opposed to the textile industry, for example, where black workers could potentially work side by side with white women if labor segregation was not enforced (Woodrum 2007:13). Interracial solidarity during strikes (especially in the Alabama coal fields before 1920) further showed how race played a less significant dividing factor among deep miners than elsewhere in the natio n (Letwin 1998; Kelly 2001). Of course, discrimination persisted in the mining industry. Through the first decades of the 20 th century, the extension classes necessary for mine supervisor certification (along with other leadership roles) were limited to only white participants in West Virginia. Some segregated classes were offered later in the 1930s, but this situation still revealed racial barriers to advancement within the coal industry (Trotter 1990:103). Callahan argued that this coal ambival ence (along with its racial and gender complexities) is essentially tied to Appalachian religious worldviews and cultural norms. Whereas many historians have neglected religion from their accounts of early 20 th century miners, for Callahan, work and faith are inextricably tied to the cultural, economic, and
111 and a certain typ e of gender relationships, along with the demands of the environment, led to the development of distinctly Appalachian forms of religiosity. According to C religion in E astern Kentucky appears not simply as a local expression of a nationa l trend, but more concretely and specifically as an example of an ongoing process of religious work in a the Appalachian coal industry is sup ported by oral histories of miners from the era of his research. Georgia Ivy Keen, who grew up impoverished in the Kentucky mountains, stated was not merely a m atter meeting economic needs, but a question of values and becoming a good person. Former deep miner Marvin Gullet likewise connected Appalachian culture and attitudes a hearty b reed, you know. You coul fraid to face death, it comment revealed certain ambivalences about mines and mining. Appalachia ns had to enter the mines to provide for their families, but fortunately, they already had the necessary fortitude to survive and thrive in the work. 57 miners of the ea rly 20 th century and their families wrestled with the connections between cultural th 57 Kentucki an Joe Begley expressed a unique form of this value of work in an interview conducted in 1994. Begley remembered visiting the Smithsonian Museum and seeing an old locomotive engine in pristine condition. For Begley, that great machine sitting in a museum was a complete waste. For a machine to not be working was a complete misuse of its purpose. In a different way, this shows the high value placed upon work among some Appalachians the need to function is ingrained in its very existence (Begley 1994 ).
112 century miners to the proponents of strip mining and mountaintop removal today he lps explain why people continue to support a practice in spite of the evidence of its danger to mountaineers and their ecosystems. Conclusion Between the Revolutionary War and World War II, Appalachia and its people acquired their distinctive reputations. A remote, relatively un religious agrarian culture transitioned, due in large part to economic pressures from outside of the region, into a more centralized, industrial, and religious one. Throughout the industrialization process, however, and especially as economic pressures and depressions hit in the early 20 th century, some mountaineers and miners began resisting political and economic forces that challenged their autonomy. Through unionization, Appalachian miners first organized in collective resista nce against what they saw as oppressive forces. When mechanization and surface mining increased after World War II, costing the majority of deep miners their jobs, former miners and other Appalachian residents continued to oppose the industry. Social, po litical, economic, and religious relationships established in the coal towns of the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries influenced later resistance movements against surface mining and mountaintop removal.
113 Figure 3 poster. This image shows a typical view of coal boss exploitation. Beehive Design Collective, http://www.beehivecollective.org/imagegall ery/main.php Image not copyrighted, available for free use.
114 CHAPTER 4 MOUNTAINEERS FIGHT B ACK: UNIONS, MINING, MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL AND RESISTANCE, 1930 TO 2011 In 1971, Illinois native John Prine scored a minor hit on the U.S. Country Music charts w song writers, especially with its catchy refrain: Down by the Green River, where Paradise lay. s coal train has hauled it away (Prine 1971). Most likely, few who heard the semi autobiographical tale realized it recounted a true story. A town called Paradise actually existed in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. Situated near the Green River, Paradise became the site of numerous open pit strip mines and a Tennessee Valley Authority coal fired power plant. The devastation and pollution in the area forced the relocation d by the early 1960s, the community existed only in history books (Caudill 1966; Wa lsh 1965). Though situated in W estern Kentucky (a coal re gion distinct from Appalachian E astern Kentucky), the story of Paradise portended significant changes for Appalachi a. Similar mines in the flatter regions of Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio helped the development of major new technologies that made possible the mass recovery of coal. The easy availability of explosives after World War II likewise helped the gro wth of large scale surface mining. Within only a few decades, mining companies transferred these new technologies to the hills of Appalachia, resulting in the massive job loss of deep miners and substantial environmental devastation. This chapter charts the transition of mining in Appalachia from the deep mining associated with the coal town era to the machine era, mainly around World War II. The development of new technologies and increased demand for cheap coal, along with favorable
115 political circumsta nces, led directly to the development of mountaintop removal in Appalachia. These changes did not occur without resistance: as deep miners lost their jobs to machines, union activism increased. Famous events like those at Matewan, West Virginia, and the long stand off at Blair Mountain emerged from local tensions between miners, their bosses, and the heavy handed political tactics of coal companies. As strip mining spread through the region in the 1960s, more and more locals stood in resistance, sometim es putting their bodies between their homes and the bulldozers that threatened to take them. This grassroots resistance of the 1960s led directly to the formation of the first environmental and social justice groups in Appalachia. These groups, in turn, provided necessary foundations for the formation of new groups organized in the early 21 st century against mountaintop removal. Fighting the Machines: Unions, Mechanization, and Resistance in the Coalfields The movement for unionization in Appalachian mi nes started in the late 19 th century, but many of the most infamous moments of Appalachian unionization occurred in the 20 th century. Largely due to popular films and documentaries such as Matewan and Harlan County U.S.A. 58 surrounding unionization in the mines across Appalachia. While the violence of this period derived in part from corporate laws, the specific processes of industrialization, and fears of Communist infi ltration in the United States working class, some of the methods, memories, organizations, and policies from this period carried into later strip mining opposition. Excellent histories on union activism in Appalachia already exist, so it is not necessary to review the period in great depth (Corbin 1981; Eller 1982; Hevener 1978; Laslett 1996a; Shiflett 1991; 58 M atewan Dir. John Sayles, Ci necom Entertainment Group, 1987; Harlan County U.S.A. Dir. Barbara Kopple, Cabin Creek, 1976.
116 Taylor 1990). 59 However, a brief survey will help identify important continuities between early union activists and contemporary anti mountaintop remo val activists. Poor Miners and Union Maids: The Rise and Fall of Unions in Central Appalachia The movement toward unionization in North American mines derived in large part from the W estern European immigrant miners of the late 19 th century, where the mini ng industry had been longer established. The earliest unions included the American Mine in the Mid W estern coal fields in late 1860), the Knights of Labor (which was not solely a late 1870s), the National Federation of Miners and Mine Laborers (formed in 1885), and the United Mine Workers of America (formed in 1890) (Long 1989:85, 141 151). 60 These Unions borrowed heavily from similar British organizations. In the last quarter of the 19 th century, as in the rest of industrial America, miners increasingly turned to strikes to negotiate with frequently heavy handed owners. Because mechanization did not pose a significant threat to employment in this era (the machines that existed at the time mainly replaced picks and shovels, not the workers themselves), most early strikes focused on quality of life in coal towns, debt, and the official measurements of pay. In individual mining communities, strikes could be long lasting and conducte d with little external support. The collective similarity of miner demands and the relative safety in numbers led to 59 and why Appalachia n coal miners emerged in the 1920s and 1930s as one of the most militant and class conscious workforces in the United States. But except for this long and bitter union campaign, we know little about collective resistance efforts in the Appalachian region b: 3). In other words, focusing on unionization dialect, moonshining, open violation of game and fencing laws, and migratio b:4). New research, he concluded is necessary to fully appreciate the impacts of collective resistance to exploitation before 1960. 60 According to Curtis Seltzer, the short lived Bates Union, organized in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania in 1848, d States (Seltzer 1985: 25).
117 to represent the prospect of overcoming the (1977:608). Changes in the U.S. coalfields generally mirrored developments in the United Kingdom, where unions likewise initially preferred negotiations to work ending strikes. 61 By the turn of the 20 th century, though, the UMWA developed its own organizational and managerial strategies and emerged as one of the most powerful unions in the United States (Laslett 1996b). The UMWA rose to national prominence due in large part to the work of its charismati c leader, John L. Lewis. Lewis was born in Iowa to Welsh immigrant parents in 1880. He rose quickly through the ranks of union leadership in Illinois and became head of the UMWA in 1919. Through numerous controversies, charges of illegal tactics, and co nflicts with miners across the U.S. coalfields, Lewis held his position with the UMWA until 1960 and his influence extended far beyond Appalachian coal towns. Lewis led North American workers through some of the most serious economic and social troubles o f the 20 th century, including the depression of the 1920s and 30s and the relative industrial boom following World War II (Dubofsky and Van Tine 1977). 62 radical who rallied worker 63 John L. Lewis was a central figure in the 20 th century union movement (Gorn 2001:3). 61 Many early union leaders were originally from Europe. John Laslett points out that, of the original eight members of the UMWA Executive Board, one was Scottish, one Irish, and three English (Laslett 1996 b:29). Coal companies in Pennsylvania began encouraging Welsh immigrants before the Civil War because of their experience in the British mines. As union conflicts escalated, many operators continued encouraging immigration from Central and Eastern Europe (Lewis 2008). 62 John L. Lewis: An Unauthorized Biography (1949). 63 Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America (2001) is an excellent source for more information on Mother Jones, focusing especially on the development of her larger than life character. Though it is meant more as a political treatise than exact history, see also The Autobiography of Mother Jones edited by M ary Field Parton ( 1925).
118 Unionization efforts, though, often met significant barriers from mine owners and their hired security agent s (such as the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency). This occasionally led to violent incidents. One of the earliest and most influential stories of coal town violence occurred in the anthracite fields of Pennsylvania in the 1860s and 70s where the Molly M aguires, as they were later dubbed, emerged from secretive Irish labor organizations. As they moved into the coal towns of Pennsylvania, the Molly Maguires carried with them some of the internal feuds and political dynamics from the home country. Through the 1860s, these Irish groups were increasingly blamed for violence against non Irish workers and mine officials. By 1876, popular magazines, mine owners, private security forces such as the Pinkertons had elevated the story of the Molly Maguires to one of an epic battle between evil, terroristic miners and the patriotic captains of industry. In 1878, after a lengthy trial, twenty men were hanged for crimes associated with the Molly Maguires. Though modern historians have shown that at least some of the se men were innocent of the crimes for which they had been convicted, the cases revealed the great power held by coal company owners and Pinkerton agents over the justice system of the Pennsylvania coal region (Kenny 1998). The case of the Molly Maguires provided an early example of popular perceptions of the coalfield labor movement. The mine owners largely had the means to control the narrative in the popular media, and so many labor organizers, whether true or not, were frequently labeled as terrorists This condition persisted well into the twentieth century, culminating in 1969 when United Mine Workers of America presidential candidate Joseph Yablonski was murdered at the request of Tony Boyle, then standing UMWA president. Though shocked by the mur ders of Yablonski, his wife, and daughter, many Americans could nonetheless easily fit the case within their standard views of coalfield life (see Gaventa 1980).
119 Skepticism about unions and their alleged violence persists through pro mountaintop removal d iscourse today. A second important moment associated with miner unionism came with the May 19, 1920 massacre at Matewan, West Virginia. During this battle, the miner friendly police chief Sid Hatfield and others were killed by aggressive Baldwin Felts agents in a brief shootout in the streets of Matewan. 64 The murders provided a tipping point for the tensions between workers, mine officials, and the Baldwin Felts agents. 65 Within days, union miners from Matewan and surrounding communities gathered seek ing justice for the community. City leaders called the U.S. National Guard to Matewan to help prevent violence, but on August 31, 1921, a massive firefight ensued on Blair Mountain between miners, Baldwin Felts agents, and other mountaineers mustered for defense. In his history of the fight, Lon Savage explained the and some estimates go to twice that number were involved as the two armies began exchanging shots along a ten mile front. George Washington had fewer soldiers at the Battle of Trenton, the engagement which changed leading to an estimated sixteen deaths primarily of miners (Savage 1990:161). While many factors led to the easing of hostilities, the Battle of Blair Mountain ended largely because of the entry of National Guard troops into the region. As Lon Savage explained, miners many of 64 Like the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, the Baldwin Felts Detective Agency was a priv ate company, based in Virginia, that provided armed guards and spies for industry leaders in the 19 th and early 20 th centuries. For more i nformation, see Weiss (1986 ) and Morn (1982). 65 Rebecca Bailey provides a compelling argument against the more labor focused histories of Matewan in her Matewan: Before the Massacre (2008). Bailey argued that Matewan, in Mingo County, was a stepping stone for unions to the greater objectives of unionizing in Logan and McDowell Counties. The violence exploded in large part because coal industry interests recognized the threat of unionism in Mingo to larger mines elsewhere. The work of the Baldwin Felts, t hen, was preemptive in n ature. Moreover, Bailey followed the worl d systems theory of Emmanuel Wallerstein counties. As such, it was more primed for conflict that other more established areas.
120 whom had served in World War I would not take up arms against their government. Their targets were only the coal bosses and Baldwin Felts agents. Though it was the second largest armed uprising in American history, behind only the Civil War, the Battle of Blair Mountain was largely ignored by history books. In 2009, th e site of the Battle of Blair Mountain was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Only months later, though, in 2010, this status was revoked and the Aracoma Coal Company, a subsidiary of Massey Energy, announced plans to begin surface mining operations at the site. Once a battleground between miners and coal companies, Blair Mountain now stands as a site of the resistance against mountaintop removal. In June 2011, a coalition of Appalachian environmental and social justice groups led a week long march and rally at Blair Mountain to raise awareness both about mountaintop removal and the contemporary political resistance to unions. 66 Union related violence continued in the coalfields through the depression of the 1930s. Harlan County, Kentuc ky, provided perhaps the most extreme example of unrest in this period. Local legal and political structures were almost entirely controlled by pro industry officials. Private and public police forces worked to stifle most union activities in the county, and local mine operators openly defied national safety policies. At the same time, pro union miners struck at strike breakers and other temporary workers imported by companies to supplant striking occasions the U.S. National Guard entered Harlan County to prevent violence and ensure legal elections (though their efforts were not always successful). Social tensions mirrored the economic conditions at the time. All of Appalachia suffered greatly du ring the depression of the 1930s, but the coal industry was especially impacted. Due to the national depression and increased competition from N orthern 66 available from the Friends of Blair Mountain, www.friendsofblairmountain.o rg (accessed May 23, 2011).
121 and W estern mines, Appalachian mines were forced to cut costs and lower production, which resulted in m assive layoffs and the cancellation of worker benefits such as retirement and injury funds. Average yearly earnings for Harlan County miners dropped from $1,235 in 1929 to $749 in 1931 (Hevener 1978:10). Interpersonal struggles and tensions spilled into the streets of and anti union national commentators who supported the struggle of the workers against the obvious oppression of ion thugs. 67 The decades of the 1920s and 30s also revealed how dependent Appalachia had become upon the coal industry since the 1860s. Whereas, in the 19 th century, many miners could turn to agriculture to support themselves in times of hardship, few min ers of the early 20 th century (with the widespread shift of land from local to corporate ownership) retained that option. Many left the region, seekin g employment in the industrial Mid W est, but those who stayed became enmeshed in a difficult, long term, and ambiguous relationship between Appalachians and coal companies. 68 The tensions of Depression era Appalachia were expressed not only in violence and protest but through protest music. Aunt Molly Jackson and Florence Reece, who penned some of the most fa mous union protest songs, both rose to prominence in Kentucky at this time. Jackson (born Mary Magdalene Garland in Clay County, Kentucky, in 1880) was the child of a a 67 Of course, the situation was not as simple as unions versus coal companies. Local politics played out differently from county to county and state by state. Not all miners belonged to the UMWA. Indeed, many opposed unions i n efforts to preserve their own employment at the mines. Others, who resisted UMWA policies, formed new unions to their politics. These differen ces led to numerous conf licts among miners themselves. Good sources for further reference include Callahan 2009 Corbin 1981, and Hevener 1978 68 Which Side are you On? Bloo dy Harlan (1990). Another interesting collection of first hand accounts is Harlan Miners Speak prepared by miner friendly Dreiser Committee in 1932.
122 to New York City where she performed with emerging folk music stars and social activists Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Following a raid of her house by anti union agents in 1931, Florence Reece, the wife of a union organizer in Harlan County, composed one of the most the injustices faced by hers and spread to national audiences through popular musicians such as Guthrie and Seeger (Hevener 1978:60 67). One of the most important a chievements of popular protest songs like those of economic and political abstractions into a commentary on the effects of exchanges on individual 2009:176). The songs made real, in an era before live broadcast television, the struggles of miners in a region that had been long ignored by the rest of the nation. Richard Callahan argued that the songs fit within local religious structures as well; th cultural performance of a familiar religious idiom that transformed the struggles of everyday life (Callahan 2009:177). In other words, part of the str ength of protest songs derived from their connection to broader religious narratives in Appalachia. These religious and expressive themes were reinvigorated in the late 20 th and early 21 st centuries, when mountaintop removal protestors turned to the prote st songs of Jackson, Reece, and others to express their opposition to a newer form of company exploitation. In 1939, global events dramatically altered the trajectory of industrial development in Appalachia and the rest of the United States. Though the United States did not enter the war until 1941, the outbreak of World War II provided a new market for the slumping coal industry
123 and a new mission for many young, unemployed Appalachians. Along with economic changes, World War II brought technological ch anges to the coalfields. Easy access to military grade explosives and a renewed national focus on industrial development made possible for the first time widespread strip mining throughout Appalachia. While the ambivalent relationship between miners, mou ntaineers, and the coal industry persisted, World War II marked the beginning of a substantial period of change in the Appalachian mining industry one that made possible the future development of mountaintop removal mining. Mechanization and the Emergence of Strip Mining: 1945 to 1977 The increased mechanization of mining occurred in a slow process over the course of several decades. British investors developed mechanized cutting machines to replace the picks and dynamite of miners in the late 1 800s. These undercutting machines were soon followed by loading machines and conveyor systems to replace the shovels and mules of previous generations. In the 1930s, digging and loading machines were combined into new models of continuous miners (sometim 1988:44). Following the economic boom of World War I, large Appalachian coal companies quickly transitioned to primarily mechanized production. The total percentage of coal mined by cutting m achines (as opposed to hand dug) in West Virginia rose from 45% in 1910 to 80% in 1930 (Trotter 1990:65). Only small, generally non union mines retained hand diggers and loaders. Each machine required a human operator, but because machines could operate continuously, they replaced numerous hand loaders. By the late 1940s, ten men working digging and loading machines could well exceed the daily production of a crew of 86 hand loading miners (Eller 2008:20). Along with taking jobs, mining machines introdu ced new health and safety hazards in the mines. Digging coal by hand produced relatively little dust. Most dust was created from
124 blasting, though during blasts miners would move to other parts of the mine, distancing themselves from the blast and allowin g some time for the dust to settle. In the case of Joy loaders and continuous miners, though, operators worked with the machines as they dug coal, exposing them to the higher levels of coal dust that they could previously avoid. Increased exposure to dus t in the mines led to a widespread increase in cases of black lung (or pneumoconiosis). Harvey Boyatt of Stearns, Kentucky, for example, blamed his black lung disease on his time spent working a Joy loader (1984). Black lung disease was first officially noticed by a Scottish doctor in 1831, but mine companies and their doctors downplayed his findings and failed to connect the disease to exposure to coal dust. In the late 1950s, U.S. doctors re y obstruction, and vascular problems. Despite mounting evidence for black lung, mine companies and the UMWA resisted recognizing black lung as a mining created disease and blocked illness compensation claims through the 1960s. In 1968, UMWA delegates for ced recognition of the issue of black lung disease at the national conference. Miners then formed the Black Lung Association and eventually won national legislation for black lung compensation and disability benefits (Judkins 1993; Seltzer 1985; Smith 198 7). The adoption of mechanization in Appalachian mines continued after World War II when economic conditions forced mine companies to lower production costs. Following the war, the United States began its massive transition away from coal and toward oil as a primary fuel source. John L. Lewis, still the head of the UMWA, called for changes in the North American mine industry to ensure the long term competitiveness and viability of the industry in light of this massive cultural a nd economic restructuring. In coal producers agreed to the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement which effectively
125 favore d large scale producers in the N orthern Appalachian fields (such as Pennsylvania) and promoted cost saving measures in cluding mechanization. As Ronald Eller explained, Lewis recognized that the agreement would result in the displacement of thousands of coal miners, but he believed that high wages for actively employed miners and good benefits for retired workers were th e long term priorities for the union Unfortunately, the Lewis strategy worked to the disadvantage of southern producers, whose smaller operations and distance from markets made them more su sceptible to rising labor costs (2008: 19). While John L. Lewis had supported increased mechanization since the early 1920s, Appalachian miners, understandably, were not so ready to sacrifice their own wages for the benefit of the national industry (Dix 1988:161 164) Marvin Gullett, a Kentucky miner who began his car eer loading coal by hand and hauling it with the aid of a mule, remembered the significant changes following mechanization. hand loadin They used to say it took a strong back and a weak mind and number four redh ead shovel to make a good miner (1977). With the introduction of Joy loaders and continuous miners, that culture of work was lost. p nationally, it marked the beginning of a massive decline of unionism in Appalachia. What numerous men and women had fought and died for only two or three decades earlier was rapidly forgotten. Nationally, UMWA membership declined from nearly 350,000 me mbers in 1951 to slightly over 20,000 in 2000 (Burns 2007:26). While some of this decline mirrored the general reduction of mining jobs due to mechanization, it derived in large part as well from the failure of the UMWA to hold members in spite of increas ingly anti union policies of coal industries and the national government. In the 1980s, the leader of anti unionism was E. Morgan Massey, the president of A.T. Massey Coal Group (later to become Massey Energy Company). Massey pioneered the technique of c reating subsidiary companies for nearly every active mine, the so
126 contracts with each subsidiary, a daunting task that often pitted miners from different subsidiaries against each other. Don Blankenship, who would rise to lead Massey Energy in the 1990s and become one of the most controversial proponents of mountaintop removal, emerged as a company leader during the union breaking era of the 1980s. Follo Pittston Coal Company likewise openly defied former union agreements. In 1989 and 1990 a reducing activities (Couto 1993:172 174). 69 Though they gained international recognition, the to set a twenty four hour a day, seven day a week work schedule. The Pittston strike signaled to smaller minin g companies in Appalachia that they too could break their union contracts, and non structures, a major source for the expression of dissent among miners was lost, and increasingly miners turned to direct action to air their grievances. Changes in technology above ground followed changes below ground. While surface mining had existed long before the 20 th century (indeed, surface mining was one of the earliest met hods of mining coal) 70 the method saw increased use in the Midwestern coal fi elds of Indiana, Illinois, and W estern Kentucky in the 1930s and 40s, and later Appalachia. Following the policy changes of the UMWA and the technological advances of post World War II industry surface mining methods improved in efficiency and gained greater acceptance among cost conscious mining companies. After World War II, strip mining in C entral Appalachia 69 See also Sessions and Ansley 1993 for primary accounts from the Pittston strike. 70 People often found coal seams exposed along river beds, and then with draft animals and hand tools, exposed the shallow seam to access the coal. O ne of the first references to coal in the United States occurred in 1783 near Richmond, Virginia, when residents discovered a co al seam beneath an upturned tree (Montrie 2003: 17 18).
127 dramatically increased, instituting many of the economic and policy c hanges that would eventually lead to mountaintop removal. This period also witnessed the emergence of widespread grassroots activism against unregulated surface mining. Borrowing from protest traditions established during the days of union struggles, man y locals in Kentucky and West Virginia resisted the entrance of strip mine operations onto their lands. The tactics and perspectives deployed by these local activists directly impacted later anti mountaintop removal activists. Large s cale strip mining began in the W estern Kentucky and N orthern West Virginia coal field in the 1920s and 30s, where the flat land allowed for easy access to coal seams by large earth moving machines (see Figure 4 1). 71 Because of the terrain differences, strip mining techniqu es moved slowly into Eastern Kentucky and S outhern West Virginia, the region most known for mountaintop removal today (Burns 2007:12 10.5 million tons of stripped coal came from Hopkins and Muhlenberg counties, both l ocated in the western coal field (Legislative Research Commission 1949:v). Within a few decades, however, more majo r strip mines developed in the E ast. Early strip mines in Appalachia were generally small, legally questionable operations. Just a few wor kers with bulldozers and a few tons of explosives could reach coal seams quickly, remove as much coal as possible, and move on, abandoning the mine site without any attempts at reclamation within a matter of weeks. Initially, strip miners practiced contou r and augur mining. This entailed cutting a level platform along the contour of a mountain much like grading a hill for a road. Using large auger 71 Throughout this dissertation mining, open pit mining, and area mining, differing in the ways they approach the terrain and the tools used. As ew hundred feet of the surface. Earth and rock above or around the coal (overburden) is removed to expose the coalbed, which is then mined with surface excavation equipment such as draglines, power shovels, bulldozers, loaders, and augers. Surface mines include, area, contour, open ( EIA 2009:78 ).
128 machines (which worked like a giant screw), miners then bored directly into the side of the hill, removing t he coal and other material within. This practice produced marketable coal much more quickly than older deep mine methods, but it was also highly wasteful, as augers left columns of un drilled coal to preserve the structural integrity of the mine. When th e miners had removed as much coal as possible, they simply left the mine, leaving a high percentage of the coal in the hill and un collectible. For several decades following World War II, this method generally defined strip mining in Appalachia. Because strip mining was much cheaper than deep mining, strip mine operations began winning large contracts, thus increasing the practice and further damaging older deep mine companies. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), in the mid 20 th century the greatest su pplier of electricity to Appalachian states and thus able to control energy prices in the region, forced coal costs down by supporting unregulated strip mines (Caudill 1973:69). These economic incentives led to the explosion of strip mining through the re mainder of the century. The Stirrings of Resistance: Grassroots Opposition to Surface Mining and the Phases of Appalachian Environmentalism While contour and augur mining wasted great amounts of coal and employed significantly fewer workers, it was the s ocial and environmental costs that led to the first incidents of local resistance. Many of the strip miners exploited broad for deed rights to open their mines. In numerous instances, miners and deed holders simply drove onto properties and began clearin g trees and grading land without warning local residents. When locals complained, mine officials simply produced broad form deeds (issued sixty to eighty years before) allocating the right to access all mineral wealth on the property by any means necessar y. Beyond the shocking methods of acquiring the land, in the 1940s and 1950s there were essentially no regulations on strip mining in Appalachian counties. The few local mandates that existe d were generally ignored by fly by night operators. Open strip mines on mountainous terrain led to dramatically
129 increased erosion and flooding, often inundating farmland with mud and damaging houses. Residents who lost productive land, forests, and experienced damage to their homes found no avenues for reparation, an d frustrations mounted. The 21 st century resistance movement to mountaintop removal can be seen as the third stage of the historical development of surface mining activism in Appalachia. The first began in the 1960s, as locals took direct action against strip mine companies. The First Phase: Grassroots Resistance to Surface Mining, 1965 to 1977 Historian Chad Montrie noted that deepest roots in ts resistance, though, Kentucky was among the slowest of the coal states to institute surface mining regulations. In 1948 a general proposal to develop strip mine regulations was considered but rejected by Kentucky legislators. In the following years, Oh io and Pennsylvania passed strip mine regulations, but su ch policies were slow to reach C entral Appalachia. By the 1960s, widespread frustration at strip miners and the lack of government oversight led to the emergence of grassroots resistance movements. 72 In 1965, the Caperton Coal and Kentucky Oak Mining Companies began clearing trees on private land for a future mine site. Dan Gibson, an elderly resident whose stepson owned property abutting the mine, approached the workers with a rifle. Gibson did no damaging fences and other structures. A police standoff ensued, ending only when Gibson was d the promise, Gibson turned himself over the authorities but stayed only briefly in jail The next morning Gibson returned to defend his property li 72 See Montrie 2003 for a detailed account of the many bills related to strip mine regulation proposed in Appalachian states from the 1940s to 1970s.
130 (Montrie:73), who supported his actions against strip miners. Facing this larger group the mining companies agreed to aband on the project (Montrie 2003: 72 73). In a 1971 hearing on strip mining, Gibson explained his actions to Kentucky legislators. He hey [the strip miners] came in there and said we not come back and bother me any more. They put me in jail forty five minutes. I had no trouble and paid two dollars. I would do it again if are going to stop it t affirmed that, if state legislators would not enforce stripe mine regu lations, the residents of Appalachia would see to it instead. Gibson became a regional hero for his actions, and w ith a small band of relatives, he formed a support group that aided families whose land was threatened by mining incu rsions. As Gurney No this war are all blood strip an E astern Kentucky widow named Ollie Combs called upon Gibson to protect her land from mine company bulldozers. Another short standoff ensued that ended only when the 61 year old Combs was arrested for refusing to move from in front of a bulldozer on Thanksgiving Day. A photograph of Combs eating her Thanksgiving meal in a jail cell inspired national support for the poor woman who was unjustly removed from her home. The actions of Gibson and Combs forced the issue of local resistance to surface mining into state media and greatly inc reased sympathy around the region for a surface mining ban (Caudill 1973: 78 80 ; Montrie 2003:79 ). As public debate over strip mining intensified, the excesses of mine companies became more widely known outside of Appalachia. Newspaper
131 readers throughout the region became more and more aware of the numerous home destroying operations. Individual stories of suffering proliferated. In one especially heartbreaking accou nt during 1966 testimonies on strip mine regulations, Edna Ritchie of Sassafras Hollow, Kentucky, no regard for her family cemetery (Robert D. Bell Collection, 192 7 1990, Box 4, Folder 3). More Gibson like standoffs between residents and strip mine companies continued through the 1960s. In June 1967, Jink Ray and a small group of relatives resisted Puritan Coal Company bulldozers at his home in Island Creek, Kentu cky. The Puritan workers brought a broad form October, when Puritan Coal simply gave up their claim (Morris 1967). Beyond local activists like Dan Gibson the inchoate Appalachian environmental and social justice movement emerged in the 1960s. Kentucky. Begley, who Wendell Be time supporter of mountaineers and opponent of coal companies, which he saw as exploiting his people and land (Berry 2005:160). In one infamous incident, Begley held a coal t rain at gunpoint and demanded that the engineers unload enough coal to help the poor people of Blackey survive a particularly harsh winter (Begley and Bates 1998). For Begley, the people of Blackey had already paid for the coal through their years of suff ering. Jeff Chapman yes or no. I mean, that was the kind of person he
132 Crane 2010). For outside companies to gain great wealth off of the suffering of Appalachians, Begley argued, was morally wrong. In an interview in the y ear 1999, eople here live on top of a gold mine, and (1999). In 1965, while working in West Virginia, Begley encountered his first strip mine an d immediately felt that the practice was wrong and exploitative of Appalachian people. In 1966 Begley moved to Blackey, Kentucky, in Letcher County, where he operated a general store and continued his involvement with anti strip mining and poverty work. Through the remainder of his life, Begley emphasized the importance of grassroots activism and the need for impacted communities to stand together against exploitation. In a 1987 interview, for example, Begley reflected on the positive changes brought by activism of the 1960s and his has all come through a handful of goddamned radical people that get things done. The pillars in the ). In a later interview, he continued to express his community e (Begley and Bates 1998). Begley was inspired in his work largely by Dan Gibson, who once explained to him, for a good provided a model for resistance that others would follow. As J eff Chapman Crane explained, he realized the most powerful tool for the activist was simply the spoken word. He said, you truth out Crane 2010).
133 Joe Begley has been inspirational for many Kentucky activists, but perhaps the most influential advocate for Appalachian people and nature in the 1960s was the lawyer, politician, and writer Harry Caudill. As one journalist noted, Caudill wa style combination of John Muir, Mark Twain, and Don Quixote who does battle in his own particular way, on his own terms, and is hands down the most eloquent and effective voice for conservation McCullough 1969: 104) Caudill was the direct descendent of one of the first white homesteaders in Letcher County, Kentucky, who settled in the area in 1792. Beginning in 1948, Caudill practiced law in Whitesburg, Kentucky, where he dealt with many of the poorest local famili es (Caudill 2001 ). These experiences inspired Caudill to write his highly influential Night Comes to the Cumberlands in 1963. In the work, Caudill charted the history of Appalachia and argued that contemporary poverty was the result of colonial ex ploitation by outside economic interests, such as the coal companies. Though controversial among scholars for its lack of citation (see Fisher 1984), Night Comes to the Cumberlands was widely read and very influential for social activists in the region. For Caudill, the people and land of Appalachia were intimately tied together. As fellow Kentucky author Wendell Berry explain ed, conservation, or any issue, as an abstractio n, the way so many do. He sees his country as being destroyed every day and he sees what that does to human beings. The other thing about Harry, maybe the most important thing, is that he lives with the evil he is fighting, and that makes him a rather un ique kind of crusader. He just looks up at the hillsides ( quoted in McCullough 1969: 98). saving scenery. For him the scenic wonders, the ecology, the people and their stories, are all part of the Joe Begley, Caudill argued through his writing and public activism that economic,
134 environmental, cultural, and religious ideas were intimately intertwined. Saving both the land and the people were equivalent goals. This social emphasis, linking poverty with environmental destruction, continued into the a nti mountaintop removal movement. Much like Joe Begley, Caudill first witnessed strip mining in Appalachia upon returning from service in World War II. Working as a lawyer in mountainous Letcher County, Kentucky, Caudill received many accounts from other residents of the damages caused by unregulated strip miners. For example, H.D. Caudill, from Carcassonne, Kentuc ky, wrote on October 8, 1960, t have an awful lot of money to spend to protect myself by law. In this old home I was born and raised and for that reason there is no place on earth so dear to me, our family cemetery is also here, and place where my body will rest with the loved ones wh o have gone on before until the sec 19, Folder 1 ). Such accounts moved Caudill to take a public stand on strip mine regulations. He was elected to the Kentucky state legislature and continued to publish books related to poverty and environmental destruction in Appalachia. In My Land is Dying (1973), Caudill presented stories and images of the devastation caused by strip mining in Kentucky, and with Theirs be the Power (1983), Caudill laid mos th and 20 th century land barons. Caudill spoke directly about his feelings on strip mining and poverty in Appalachia a characteristic that both won him respect among activists and scorn among b usinessmen and public officials and always pointed blame directly. In a speech delivered to the Annual Convention of Tennessee Soil and Water Conservation Districts i n 1967, Caudill said bluntly, ighty firms rich powerful, arrogant, swollen with self co nceit and immense profits have to
135 be taught by little people like you and me that they are no longer free to go on murdering the land. It is our land they are destroying. It is our Caudill Collection, Box 20, F older 3, p. 16). While coal barons and coal friendly politicians Tennessee Valley Authority, the largest purchaser of strip mined coal in the 1960s and 70s. 73 After Frank E. Smith decided to write Caudill directly. In a letter dated October 1, 1970, Smith wrote I th ink the first standard of Caudill responded, n the morrow we will visit Kentucky Oak Mining Company and its lands reclaimed per TVA guidelines. There we will observe all. If we find bees buzzing amid clover and sweet pea, new forests springing up on smoothly graded and stable spoil banks, the land ungullied and in repose, the streams trickling through it all pure and unsulli ed his, Smith simply here is no point in continuing a correspondence as long as you are not willing to do (all letters in Anne and Harry Caudill Collect ion, Box 21, Folder 2). harshest academic critics, Steve Fishe r, to write, his crusade must be judged in terms of how much it empowers people; does it tell us what we need to know to build the world we want to 73 The Tennessee Valley Authority was initiated by Franklin Roosevelt in 1933. Originally, the organization was meant to provide jobs through the impoverished south, build dams to help agriculture and flood control, and provide hydroelectric power to the more remote areas of the south. Later, in the 1950s, the TVA became a general provider of coal based electricity to the region, as well. As the largest local power producer, the TVA thus exerted a great amount of influence over regional coal prices and promoted cost saving measures such as strip mining (Caudill 2001 : 318 321; Morgan 1974).
136 1984: 273) good as the above correspondence shows, fiery rhetoric can impede constructive communication between disagreeing parties Fisher acknowledged, and it extends beyond his literary career. 74 Caudill, Begley, Dan Gibson, speaking directly to the agents most likely to blame for personal wrongs. Much like the union activists decades before, Caudill and others worked from a fiercely i ndependent cultural can still be clearly seen in the speech of modern activists such as Larry Gibson, Maria Gunnoe, and Judy Bonds. Despite the criticism of a cademics and his political opponents, Caudill insisted, most of su rface mine regulations and his work inspired many to continue the struggles against his humility about his own role in the anti strip mining movement. He remained an active public own life in 1990 (Smith 1991). 75 It was an inglorious end to the man credited by many as popularizing the Appalachian environmental justice movement, but also perhaps fitting for a man who fought until the end for what he considered to be best. 74 Dwight Billings provided Back Talk from Appalachia (1999). 75 See also his obituary in the New York Times from December 1, 1990. Available online at http://www.nytimes.c om/1990/12/01/obituaries/harry m caudill 68 who told of appalachian poverty.html (accessed May 23, 2011).
137 While not all Appalachians took strong activist stances against strip mining, like Caudill, Begley, and others, oral histories reveal that opposition to strip mining and support of regulations were common among locals, though local opinions also retained ambivalence about the industry. As Callahan (2009) identified, mountaineers greatly valued the skilled work of miners and supported the industry desp ite continued grievances. Strip mining was defined by many as an entirely different type of work, outside of the spiritual value of hand loading and deep mining. For Joe Begley, strip mining and coal mining were clearly two different occupations. In one (1987). Because it entailed making profit off of the suffering of local communities, Begley said, ough he sharply critiqued strip mining, Begley was not opposed to deep miners and the small scale, deep mining industry He y. (Begley 1987). For Begley, like numerous mountaineers before, deep mining was honest, necessary work. Despite its problems, it was a critical part of Appalachian cult ural history, and Begley, on one of the most vocal opponents of strip mining, did not want to see it end. Marvin Gullett, a retired miner from Kentucky, likewise opposed strip mining, but Gullett and Begley, deep mining remained an honorable tradition precisely for its connection to deeply held cultural values. Thi s attitude that strip mining presents only an unnecessary excess of the mining industry; if done differently, the industry could be sustainable persists among some anti mountaintop removal activists today. It is particularly important to note as many of
138 t he industry representatives who seek to vilify activists often present the issue as a clear dichotomy between those who support the coal industry and those who seek its end. The issue has always been much more complicated. Contributing to local nostalgia for older deep mining days was the continued movement by the UMWA away from the Appalachian coal fields and miners. By the 1960s, the locus of American coal mining was beginning its shift toward the western coal fields of Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana a region that did not have the lengthy unionization history of Appalachia. 76 Furthermore, due to the relative lack of population in western regions and interest in cost saving measures by investors, much of western mining was surface mining. Finally, many of the western mines were owned and operated by large oil and mineral companies, not the East C oast coal companies of the past who had more experience dealing with the UMWA (Seltzer 1985:126). To preserve membership, and despite the opinions of many Appal achian deep miners, the UMWA moved toward accepting strip miners. In 1971, UMWA president Tony Boyle stated to the Wall Street Journal, he UMWA views strip mining as vital to the (Anne and Harry Caudil l Collection, Box 22, Folder 1). As the amount of coal produced by strip mining increased through the 1970s and 80s and general mine employment declined, the UMWA grew less ambivalent about its support of the strip mining industry. Chad Montrie explained protection of deep miners jobs and 58 59). Along with influential individual ac tions to preserve property, Appalachians began organizing through the 1960s to specifically address the social and environmental damages of the 76 Indeed, Wyoming now produces more coal than any other state.
139 mining industry, and by 1977, the first wave of Appalachian grassroots environmental groups forms. Though few w ould last into the 1980s, these new groups lobbied local politicians for surface mine reform and formed the basis out of which many later environmental and social justice groups would form. In 1965, shortly after Dan astern Kentucky formed the Appalachian Group to Save the Land and People (AGSLP). AGS LP was composed mainly of poor E astern Kentucky residents, including Dan Gibson and Ollie Combs. In one of the first strikes against Kentucky strip mine companies, t he group ga thered $3,000 to file suit against a large surface mining firm. In Martin v. Kentucky Oak Mining Co. the AGSLP and its representation argued against the legality of broad form deeds which enabled mining companies to purchase mineral rights to private pro perty lands w ithout buying the land itself. In 1967, a Kentucky Circuit Court ruled that the mineral contracts used by Kentucky Oak Mining Co were legal, but that firms owe d compensation for damages directly related to mining. This decision was reversed in the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 1968, and mining companies were free to continue mining on private land without compen sating the owners (Caudill 1973:81 84; Montrie 2003:83 84 ). r, Edward Breathitt, for a ban on surface mining. Breathitt agreed to consider the subject and in 1966 proposed a bill to restrict surface mining and compensate damages suffered by Kentucky residents. These discussions concerning strip mine legislation b rought diverse organizations and interest groups together on the same issue for the first time. Coalitions formed between regional anti poverty workers such as the Appalachian Volunteers and national labor and environmental groups, and this provided a mod el for future cooperation between organizations as debates over
140 strip mining continued (Kiffmeyer 2008:173 175). AGSLP promoted the ban on surface mining property rights against coal industry incursions The Southern Labor Union, a sm all union of local miners, supported the measure because of the job losses and decreases in bill because of the damages caused by surface mining to hunting ground s and rivers. The Kentucky Civil Liberties Union also supported the bill, arguing that surface mining operations (quoted in Montrie 2003:81). The proposed bill led t o public debate on the issue of strip mining, but d espite passionate testimony on the damages caused by surface mining, the measure failed in the Kentucky Senate. Instead, the Senate passed a weakened bill that, while not banning surface mining, allowed f or future litigation and possible compensation for damages directly caused by surface mini ng (Montrie 2003: 74 84). Between 1966 and 1972, individual incidents of damage to mine property increased. Expensive mining equip ment was damaged and machinery opera tors reported gunfire in their vicinities. In 1967, unidentified saboteurs destroyed $300,000 worth of mining equipment at a Tarheels Coal mine site in Kentucky, and similar actions led to $750,000 worth of damage at a strip mine in Leslie County, Kentucky In both instances, mining equipment was destroyed with 1990, Box 5, Folder 6). Because mine officials blamed newly formed environmental groups for the damages, t hese acts gen erated a congressional backlash against AGSLP and Breathitt, who lost his gubernatorial campaign in 1967 (Montrie 2003: 87 88). In 1972, representatives from many national environmental protection groups, such as the Sierra Club, the Izaak Walton League, a nd the Audubon Society, along with local groups and individuals such as AGSLP, met to discuss the
141 future of surface mining resistance in Kentucky. Several individuals present at this meeting, many with or ganizational experience in national groups, decided to form Save Our Kentucky to continue the work of AGSLP and promote surface mining regulations. Some members of Save Our Kentucky inaugurated the new organization by occupying a strip mine in Knott County. They stopped mine operations for fifteen hours, but eventually succumbed to police and miner harassment. While the occupiers pr ovided a good media event, mining in Knott County continued immediately af ter their arrests (Montrie 2003: 101 105). Resistan ce to surface mining also spread through West Virgi nia and Tennessee. The grassroots group Save Our Cumberla nd Mountains (SOCM), formed in E astern Tennessee in 1972, focused on rejecting mining intrusions onto family lands and protecting traditional jobs from new corporate cost cutting techniques. Like A GSLP and Save Our Kentucky, SOCM did not advocate an end to mining, just a return to a trad itional lifestyle that was threatened by ne w technologies. In 1976, SOCM successfully litigated against AMAX, Inc., a large mining firm that intended to open large surface mining opera tions in E astern Tennessee. In 2008, the board eMpowerment in order to better reflect their broadening social focus. SOCM remained a thriving grassr oots organization into the 21 st century, working on several campaigns, including protecting areas of Tennessee from surface mining ( Allen 1993 ; SOCM 2011 ). In West Virginia, bolish Strip health, to propose state wide bans on surface mining in the 1970s. Like Breathitt in Kentucky, initially supported the anti surface mining interests. Alt hough no official ban on surface mining was passed, West Virginia legislators
142 approved a two study its impacts. Many of the included counties did not have active surface mines, however, and Rockefeller lost his bid for re election in 1972 (Montrie 2003: 107 126). The push for strip mining reform made modest advances through the 1960s, and as calls for reform increased and the waste associated with mines grew, local politicians were forced to address the issue. Two problematic forms of mine waste were slurry (the liquid byproduct of washing coal to remove impurities and prepare the mineral for markets) and slag (various non coa l products that sit near coal deposits in the ground). As the size and number of mines grew, companies were faced with new challenges in disposing of slag and slurry. The most common approach was to put the waste into storage reservoirs, often created by pushing other mine waste into a make shift dam with little internal support. One such impoundment was owned by Pittston Coal Company in Logan County, West Virginia. In the winter of 1971 72, seasonal rains and snow had filled the Pittston impoundment ne arly to its limit, and on the morning of February 26, the earthen dam collapsed. Within minutes, 132 million gallons of sludge poured into the narrow Buffalo Creek valley, leveling forests, engulfing communities while tearing houses from their foundations (leaving over 4,000 individuals without homes) and killing 125 people (Burns 2007:135 136; Erikson 1976:27 28). 77 To many, the devastation of Buffalo Creek revealed the desperate need for surface mine regulations. Like other coal related disasters, howev er, the flood was understood by mine safety officials as a weather related act of God, not related to slurry impoundment safety. Consequently, reform was slow even following such a disaster. 78 77 Everythi ng in Its Path (1976) In his work, Erikson provided a very detailed analysis of the social and environmental devastation wrought by the flood. 78 Deadly and damaging floods and slurry spills have continued across the coal fields. For example, in 2000 a Massey Energy slurry impoundment leaked 300 million gallons of slurry into the Tug Fork River in Marti n County, Kentucky (Eller 2008: 250). In 2008, 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash slurry from a TVA coal processing plant in http://ilovemountains.org/tva spill/ ). In
143 With only modest success at the regional level through the 196 0s, Appalachian activists and pro regulation politicians moved to the national level to seek surface mining reform. Generally, the 1970s was a busy decade for U.S. environmental policy. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which created the Envi ronmental Protection Agency (EPA), became law on January 1, 1970. Along with generally setting the stage for national environmental protection policy, NEPA required environmental impact statements (EISs) on the potential environmental cost s and benefits o f any federally approved environmental change. Shortly after approving NEPA, Nixon also extended the Clean Air Act, giving the national government greater authority over air quality issues, and the Environmental Protection Agency began operating at the en d of the year. National policies reflected growing public interest in environmental protection 1970 also witnessed the first organized Earth Day. In 1972, congress approved the Federal Water Pollution Control Amendments, a law which following significant amendments in 1977 became known as the Clean Water Act (Gottlieb 2005:139, 175 180). Each of these early policies influenced surface mine practices, including the requirement for EISs and regulations on water quality maintenance (particularly given the d amages caused by slurry impoundments). 79 Still, activists and politicians pushed for specific surface mine regulations. In 1977, Appalachian opponents to surface mining finally received their national policy. Though similar bills had been previously veto ed by Presidents Nixon and Ford, President Jimmy Carter finally signed the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) into law. each of these incidents, official government channels masked public dangers and offered only minor penalties to Mass ey and the TVA (see Eller 2008:251; House and Howard 2009: 181 184; http://www.unitedmountaindefense.org/ ). 79 President George W. Bush made two controversial changes to the Clean Water Act, limiting its abil ity to govern sur face mining damages. In 2002, C ongress and the President amended Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, 4, the administration reduced the buffer zone required between streams and surface mining. These changes favored surface mine operators, allowing them to operate closer to open water sources (Warrick 2004).
144 Reflecting decades of policy debates, SMCRA was intended to be the overarching regulatory mechanism for all surface min ing in the United States. The law established the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement to oversee elements of surface mining and recovery. In an attempt to address one of the major concerns of surface mine opponents, the law included the mandate for mining companies to restore the land affected to a condition capable of supporting the uses which it was capable of supporting prior to any mining 80 Previously, surface mine companies in Appalachia often left the mines open a fter the coal was recovered, leaving massive scars in the landscape, exposing toxins such as mine spoil to the environment, and dramatically increasing erosion. The coal industry balked at restoration requirements, arguing that the cost of restoration wou ld effectively drive the Appalachian coal is unlikely to be a major disruptive influence in the coal industry, or a substantial impediment to the long run nation reclamation clause meant companies had to restore the land to a usable, relatively stable state (see Figures 4 4 to 4 8). In mountainous areas such as Appalachia, this meant restori ng the (AOC) clause was intended to remediate erosion and ensure highwalls and slag hills would not be left after mining, critics pointed to the ambiguity of the term. Further complicating the perhaps well intentioned restoration mandate, lawmakers allowed some exceptions to the AOC requirement, including n cases where an industrial, commercial, agricultural, residential or public facility (including recreational faci lities) use is proposed [f]or the post mining use of the 80 The copy of SMCRA cited here is a PDF reprodu ction of the law, retrieved from the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement website. Page numbers refer to this specific PDF copy, not necessarily the law as entered into the public record.
145 landscape if they could offer proof of intention to develop the area. While some viewed this provision as enc ouraging economic development in the struggling coalfields, opponents viewed it as a giveaway to mine companies, effectively negating the mandate for restoration. The Second Phase: Organized Activism and the Emergence of Mountaintop Removal, 1977 to 2004 While SMCRA was groundbreaking, providing a national standard for surface mine regulation, many local opponents of surface mining were very disappointed by the final product. very suc (2003: 107). Local activists such as Joe Begley, Harry Caudill, and others, while they generally supported the continuation of deep mining, sought an entire ban of strip mining in Appalachia, not simply regulation. To them, instituting national r egulatory standards would effectively legitimate the practice of surface mining, ensuring it would continue into the future. Where some local activists and politicians thought SMCRA ceded too much to coal companies, others, especially national environment al lobby groups who tended to make compromises on local issues in favor of broader national policies, argued that regulation was a sufficient goal. Chad Montrie argued that lobbyists for national groups like the Sierra Club, Izaak Walton League, and Wilde 2003:204). The debates around SMCRA revealed important dynamics between local and national activists and policymakers. Opponents were not unified in a single vision on the future of coal and mining in Appalachia some called for the complete phase out of coal mining in the region, others believed deep mining could continue though s urface mining should be banned. Still others sought only tighter regulations on surface mining, arguing that, if the law were
146 followed, the negative environmental and social impacts of the practice would be sufficiently minimized. Ultimately, in 1977, no resources and access to lawmakers), too lenient to prevent or rectify various sorts of environmental d (2003:181 182). While SMCRA changed the way surface mining unfolded in Appalachia and d a gradual increase in surface mine operations. With SMCRA passed, groups such as AGSLP and Save Our Kentucky gradually disbanded as their members moved to other important issues or to focus on other measures for challenging strip mining. Many of the me mbers of Kentucky environmental groups formed emphasized all areas related to poverty, property rights, education reform, and environmental policy (Szakos 1993:102) Focusing on grassroots, democratic community organizing, KFTC sought to empower Appalachians to work toward their local goals. Through local victories, more widespread changes could occur. By 1988, KFTC and others successfully challenged the legality of broad form deeds in Kentucky. Surface mine companies could no longer invoke broad form deed rights without the express permission of the current landowner. Through the early 1990s, KFTC successfully changed local tax structures that placed much of the economic burden on residents, rather than the companies that profited from coal extraction. While these most severe public economic burdens of the practice (Schwab 1994: 290 299; Szakos 1993).
147 In West Virginia, new organizations also formed as surface mining and other coal related environmental problems proliferated through the 1980s. Originally formed in 1965, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy worked o n environmental conservation throughout the state. The group became involved in strip mining in the 1960s during the local regulation debates that eventually led to SMCRA. Following the passage of SMCRA, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy continued its work remediating environmental problems associated with surface mining. 81 Ten years after the passage of SMCRA, in 1987, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OHVEC) was formed in Huntington, West Virginia, in opposition to a hazardous waste inciner industry continued to change (with smaller, independent mines purchased by larger corporations such as Peabody, Massey, and Arch) and demands for cheap, local energy grew, su rface mining continued to develop throughout Appalachia. In the 1980s and early 1990s, larger coal companies with sufficient investment capital turned increasingly toward a more dramatic form of surface mining to access increasingly marginal coal seams. Gradually, bolstered by provisions from SMCRA and under the perceptual radars of non Appalachian environmentalists, the coal industry shifted to mountaintop removal mining. Beyond standardizing surface mine practices, SMCRA included a provision for mo conducted on the surface of lands in connect Such activities include excavation for the purpose of obtaining coal including such common methods a s contour, strip, auger, mountaintop removal, box cut, open pit, and area mining Before 1977, mountaintop removal was a relatively rare form of surface mining, behind contour 81 See the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy web site: http://www.wvhighlands.org/index.html (accessed May 23, 2011).
148 and auger mining (see Figure 4 1). The term itself was rarel y used by either proponents or opponents of surface mining. By including the practice as a form of surface mining, SMCRA ensured that, like other forms of mining, it would not be banned. As small coal companies were subsumed under larger corporations dur ing the 1980s and 90s, large scale mountaintop remo val operations proliferated in E astern Kentucky and West Virginia (Burns 2007:5 6; Montrie 2003:197). Just as World War II marked the shift in the coal industry from deep mining to surface mining, SMCRA m arked the beginning of the mountaintop removal era, when the practice would become the most prominent form of surface mining in the region. Local an all encompassing term for the social, economic, and environmental devastation caused by the practice. Specific statistics on the extent of mountaintop removal are difficult to find, given the fragmented nature of surface mining operations and questiona ble reporting, though Epstein et al. (2011) presented a reasonable estim ate of 500 active mines across C entral Appalachia. A 2005 EPA environmental impact statement (EIS), cond ucted over 12 million acres of E astern Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, and T ennessee, found that 6.8% of the study area (816,000 acres, or 1,275 square miles) had been directly impacted by mountaintop removal (either directly mined or impacted by valley fills and deforestation). The EIS likewise concluded that over 1,200 total mi les of streams in the study area had been impacted by mountaintop removal between 1992 and 2002, including 724 miles of stream that had been completely covered by valley fills (EPA 2005:4). While President Obama and the EPA called into question several mo untaintop removal permits in early 2009, many more permits were issued after the EIS was released in 2005 (Ward, Jr. 2009). Thus, statistics on the extent of mountaintop removal impacts
149 after 2005 would inevitably be higher. Most controversially, on Jan uary 13, 2011, the EPA vetoed a permit request from the Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, West Virginia. If allowed, the permit for would have made Spruce No. 1 the largest mountaintop removal mine in Appalachia, at 2,300 acres (Biggers 2011). Though co ndemned by coal officials as showing reckless disregard for the impact on our people, on future investment in our region and even for basic fairness surface mine policy (see Figur es 4 2 and 4 3). Although the area and impact of mountaintop removal is difficult to quantify, clearer fueled power plants generated 47.7% of all electric power in the United States (E IA 2010:1). Mine production continued to expand to meet such high demand. Total 2009 U.S. coal production was 1,074,900,000 short tons, with 341,400,000 short tons coming from the Appalachian Region (EIA 2009:1 2). 82 Despite the attention paid to Appalac hian coal, active mines exist in 25 states, 83 Nonetheless, West Virginia and Kentucky remain the second and third greatest coal producing states, so their contributions and the impacts of loca l collection techniques remain consequen tial. In 2009, the regions of Eastern Kentucky, S outhern West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee produced 196,466,000 short tons of coal. 84 Of that, 97,777,000 short tons (or about 50% of total production) came from 82 2,000 pounds (EIA 2009: 72). According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Appalachia n Region is one of three distinct coal producing areas in the country, along with the Western and Interior regions. The Appalachian Region is much broader than the area considered here, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, and Alabama, along with easte rn Kentucky, West Vi rginia, Virginia, and Tennessee (EIA 2009:68). 83 In fact, in 2009 Wyoming produced 431,100 short tons of coal, out producing the entire Appalachian region during the same year (EIA 2009: 4). 84 The EIA differentiates between southern and northern West Virginia, and eastern and western Kentucky. The numbers here use the more specific measurements from southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, the regions most known for mountaintop removal mine. To include the statewide num bers would make this total higher, but it
150 surface mines. While the total Appalachian region experienced a 12.5% reduction in coal production between 2008 and 2009, the percentage of coal produced by surface methods has increased over the years (EIA 2009:1, 12 13). In 1950, for example, slightly less than 25% of all U.S. coal came from surface mines; by the year 2000, over 65% originated from surface mines (Bonskowski, Freme, and Watson 2007:145). The most productive single surface mine was the Twilight MTR Surface Mine, owned by Progress Energy, in Boone County, West Virginia, producing nearly 5 million short tons of coal in 2009 (EIA 2009:24). Many Americans benefit from coal produced by mountaintop removal, but the sources of that coal remain largely off limits to public observation. Because mountaintop mines remain guarded private property, citizens are not generally allowed onto mine sites and viewing a mountaintop removal operation up close can be very difficult. To actually see an active mine, s property on Kayford Mountain, West Virginia. Gibson hosts numerous tour groups and events throughout the year. 85 He keeps a log of visitors and claims to have shown the area to over 14,000 people since the 1990s. Visiting Kayford does come with one con Kayford is to become involved in the struggle against mountaintop removal; and Gibson does not simply show the destruction to curious gawkers, but to those who will commit in some way to help the people of Appalachia in their struggles against the process. While physically visiting mountaintop removal sites remains difficult, computer tech nology provides alternatives. The website www.ilovemountains.org maintained by the long time Appalachian advocacy group, would also slightly misrepresent the total production from mountaintop removal specifically, rather than surface mining more generally. 85 See the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation website for information about s cheduled tour dates: http://mountainkeeper.blogspot.com/ (accessed May 23, 2011).
151 Appalachian Voices, is an accessible source for information on the extent of mountainto p removal. The website offers several presentations based on the Google Earth program, providing satellite images of specific mountaintop removal sites along with extensive information and where visitors enter their zip codes to find specific links between their local energy providers and mountaintop removal mining. This unprecedented project uses the best information on coal purchasing available, but given the flu ctuations inherent in energy markets, ambiguity remains. 86 Finally, interested readers may simply explore the Appalachian region through the satellite view of Google Maps to see the extent of mountaintop mining. Mountaintop sites appear as grayish brown s pots in the midst of green forest, though care is needed since other non mine sites, including construction projects, have a similar appearance. By the early 1990s, Appalachians increasingly spoke against the negative environmental and social impacts of t he growing mountaintop removal practice. Whereas, following SMCRA, many earlier anti surface mine groups disintegrated or shifted their focuses to other issues, more grassroots groups organized through the 1980s and 1990s to, at first, challenge local pro blems associated with mountaintop removal, and later, challenge the practice itself on a larger, political level. Numerous individuals throughout Appalachia contested coal industry practices through the 1990s; public meetings, inquiries, and rallies were held throughout the states to both challenge governmental environmental policies and raise awareness about suffering in Appalachia. While each action, however small, contributed significantly to the growing, grassroots movement against mountaintop removal mining, two important milestones stood out 86 See http://www.ilovemountains.org/my connection for a comple te explanation of the metrics used in the process (accessed May 23, 2011)
152 from the decade, namely: the Bragg v. Robertson case and the growing awareness of conditions around Marsh Fork Elementary School, in West Virginia. 87 In 1998, West Virginia lawyer Joe Lovett brought a lawsuit a gainst the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on behalf of Patricia Bragg and other residents of Blair, West Virginia. In the lawsuit, Lovett argued, first, uing Nationwide 21 and 26 Permits (allowing fill dumping in navigable and headwaters) violated the Clean Water Act, second, that the DEP failed to adequately conduct environmental impact statements for an approved mountaintop mining permit for Arch Coal, a nd third, that the Environmental Protection Agency improperly allowed Section 404 Permits for valley fills (essentially, legal exemptions to the Clean Water Act). While Bragg v. Robertson the case called into question the entire permitting process for mountaintop removal. If Lovett and others won, coal industry officials worried, it would undermine the legality of valley fills (essential components of mountaintop removal mining) across Ap palachia. To the surprise of many politicians and coal industry officials, Chief Judge of the Southern District Court, Charles Haden II, ruled in favor of Lovett and the plaintiffs in 1999. Haden almost immediately suspended his ruling, however, pending an appeal by Arch Coal to higher courts, and in 2001, technically have jurisdiction to try the case. In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear further app eals. Despite the initial victory, mountaintop removal mining continued. Bragg v. Robertson did, however, reveal to the wider public many of the legal irregularities surrounding mountaintop mining and environmental protection. Appalachian environmentali sts finally 87 For a more detailed account of anti mountaintop removal litigation through the 1990s, see Burns 2007, Loeb 2007, and Shnayerson 2008.
153 reached a national audience with evidence of what they considered corruption on the parts of coal companies and local governments. The case resulted in the eventual production of the EPA environmental impact statement on mountaintop removal (E PA 2005) and provided tools for future challenges to Nationwide 21 and Section 404 permits throughout Appalachia (Baller and Pantilat 2007:641 644; Burns 2007:101 104; Loeb 2007; Shnayerson 2008). The focus of Bragg v. Robertson County mine to the practice of mountaintop removal in general; but through the 1990s, many community activists stood in opposition to the environmental and social impacts of other mines specifically threatening their homes and families. One especially tr oubling site for anti mountaintop removal activists was the Marsh Fork Elementary School, along a tributary of the Coal River near Sundial, Raleigh County, West Virginia. Surface mining existed along the Coal River for decades, but by the early 1990s, its extent had increased dramatically. In 1985, the Brushy Fork slurry impoundment was built to hold coal waste from nearby mining operations. This impoundment was followed by a coal preparation plant, a coal silo, and in 2003, extensions to a nearby surfac e mine, pushing it dangerously close to the Brushy Fork impoundment (Webb and Stockman 2005:P5A). While the mine complex shifted ownership through the years, by 1994, it was owned by Massey Energy, the coal company most targeted by anti mountaintop remova l activists. Marsh Fork Elementary, sitting only 400 yards below the impoundment dam and even closer to the coal preparation plant and storage silo, became a focal point for many anti mountaintop removal activists. Citing the health dangers of coal dust (such as that inevitably coming from the nearby processing plant) and the memory of impoundment disasters such as Buffalo Creek, locals increasingly worried about the safety of the approximately 240 children at the school (Burns 2007:42; Shapiro 2010:75; S hnayerson 2008:128). In 1998, Raleigh County
154 residents Freda Williams and Randy Sprouse founded Coal River Mountain Watch (CRMW), a grassroots organization meant to give voice to local people who apparently suffered environmental and health injuries from the surrounding mountaintop mines. Named for Coal River Mountain, one of the few major mountains without major surface mine activity in Raleigh County, the organizers and members of CRMW challenged new mountaintop permits in the area, called for help prot ecting the children of Marsh Fork Elementary School, and promoted alterna tive wind energy investment in S outhern West Virginia. 88 mountaintop removal act ivism began solidifying around S outhern West V irginia and more locals began involving the Coal River Valley. In 1999, Bonds volunteered as the outreach coordinator for CRMW. She was moved to join the group whe n she noticed her grandson playing in a creek full of dead fish, apparently polluted by a strange white substance. Bonds pulled her grandson from the creek, and later found that the substance was polyacrylamide, a possible carcinogen and nerve toxin used by coal preparation plants (House and Howard 2009:142 143). Following this experience, Bonds became a tireless spokesperson for the people and environment of Appalachia. Before her death from cancer at age 58 on January 3, 2011, Bonds was an unquestioned spiritual leader of the anti mountaintop removal movement (Ward, Jr. 2011). Her work in the first decade of the 21 st century inspired many locals and others from around the world to get involved with the fight against mountaintop removal mining, and alon g with dozens of other local activists, she helped usher in the third phase of surface mining resistance in Appalachia. Among its many campaigns, Coal River Mountain Watch and Ed Wiley, a former Massey contractor whose granddaughter 88 ory and current campaigns: http://www.crmw.net/crmw/ (accessed May 23, 2011).
15 5 attended Marsh Fork El ementary, lobbied for a new elementary school and the cessation of new build a new school. In 2006, Wiley marched from West Virginia to Washington D.C. to rai se awareness and funds for the campaign (Shapiro 2010:283). The work of Wiley, CRMW, and many others finally paid off in October, 2010, when the Raleigh County Board of Education, with financial support from the Annenberg Foundation, purchased land for a new school to be completed in 2012 (Plummer 2010). 89 By 2004, the grassroots movement against surface mining, that had somewhat faded after 1977, was regaining influence. Nonetheless, many outside of Appalachia remained entirely unaware of the issue, whic h received very little national media attention. The media watchdog group, Project Censored, called mountaintop removal one of the top 25 censored stories of 2006. 90 Soon afterward, mountaintop removal and resistance to it gained increasing attention in a nd beyond the United States. The Third Phase: Mountaintop Removal and the Contemporary Movement, 2004 to Present Early in the morning of August 20, 2004, a boulder rolled down from an A&G Coal surface mine in Wise County, Virginia. Though boulders falli ng from surface mines had been a regular occurrence since the early days of surface mining, this boulder landed in the Davidson home, killing 3 year old Jeremy Davidson in his sleep. A&G was fined $15,000 for the accident 89 This is only a brief introduction to some of the actions in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The efforts of CRMW and other groups ar e charted at length in Burns 2007; Kennedy, Jr. 2004; Loeb 2007; and Shnayerson 2008. Of course, many more individuals and groups have been instrumental in the figh t against mountaintop removal It should be remember ed though, that while some like Judy Bonds have served as important figureheads of the movement, they are not exactly leaders in a hierarchical, institutional sense. Numerous others work behind the scenes, often with little public recognition, to keep the current anti mountaintop removal mov ement going. For a more detailed account of individuals and groups involved, see Osha 2010 and Shapiro 2010. 90 See http://www.p rojectcensored.org/top stories/articles/10 mountaintop removal threatens ecosystem and economy/ (accessed April 1, 2011 )
156 (Thornton 2006). Appalachians we re well aware of the many tragedies linked to surface mining, but this event, for many, unleashed a new phase of resistance to mountaintop removal. Shortly after the Jeremy Davidson tragedy, several Appalachian activists organized a public memorial. Thi s event both called for justice in the Davidson case and hoped to reveal the extreme dangers of mountaintop mining to others throughout Appalachia and America who had not yet been convinced. The rally drew together several long time local activists and co ncerned citizens, significantly, including me mbers of nearby, more radically oriented environmental groups, in cluding Katuah Earth First! (a S outhern Appalachian branch of the broader environmental action group, Earth First!), which had been involved in ef forts to halt deforestation in the region since the 1980s. While non violent direct action tactics had been reappearing among activists throughout Appalachia in the early 2000s (such as a 2003 mine blockade on Zeb Mountain, Tennessee), many of those prese nt at the 2004 rally felt the need for a more concerted effort of locals and other long time activists to permanently stop mountaintop removal (Russo 2009; Shapiro 2010). In subsequent months, Appalachian activists worked to organize regular meetings and begin planning for an activist body meant to gather information about mountaintop removal, spread that information to local communities and national audiences, and directly impact the continued processes of surface mining. The result was the first Mountai n Justice Summer in 2005. The summer of organizing and mobilization was initiated with a May 24 rally in front of the Goals Processing Plant, part of the Massey complex situated near Marsh Fork Elementary School. According to journalist Tricia Shapiro, a pproximately sixty activists, including Judy Bonds, Larry Gibson, Bo Webb, and some of the initial planners of Mountain Justice Summer, gathered at the entrance of the plant to present demands to Massey. Bonds and Webb were
157 arrested for trespassing after 2010:72 surface mining movement into a new phase, marked by increased involvement from individuals from both inside and o utside of Appalachia. The increased use of direct action generated greater media attention to the movement. 91 Mountain Justice Summer continued through the following months, drawing together local and non local activists of all ages and experience to engage in various aspects of presenting the mountaintop removal road show (a presentation and strategy reminiscent of the Earth First! road shows of past decades) throughout the country, promoting awareness about the issue and urging support for local activists. 92 specifically to re ference both Freedom Summer, the 1964 vo ter registration drive through S outhern states during the struggle for civil rights, and Redwood Summer, a series of Earth First! sponsored protests against deforestation throughout the Pacific Northwest in 1990 (Zak in 1993:378 382). The Appalachian movement was thus consciously tied to previous North American social justice and environmental movements employing non violent civil disobedience. Many of the organizers of 2005 Mountain Justice Summer continued their wo rk in following years, establishing Mountain Justice as an activist collective in its own right. Mountain Justice continues to sponsor educational work, community organization, and activist 91 Mountain Justice (2010) charts in great detail the 21 st century direct action campaign against mountainto p removal While her work dealt much more with the interpersonal relationships between activists, it generally confirmed the evidence I have gathered through interviews on the basic history and founding motivations of Mountain Justice and related groups. 92 See http://www.mountainroadshow.com/ (accessed May 23, 2011).
158 trainings through regular meetings and camps, including summer, s pring, and winter retreats directed at college students. Between 2005 and 2009, several more regional groups developed out of Mountain Justice meetings, including United Mountain Defense (based in Tennessee), Kentucky Mountain Justice (in Kentucky), Rrene w Collective and Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (in Virginia). These Appalachian activists, many of whom began their activist careers with other groups, continued networking with broader national groups such as the Rainforest Action Network, Risin g Tide North America, and Greenpeace, who provided material and training support. In 2005 activists also established Climate Ground Zero (CG0) in the Coal River Valley of West Virginia. While several of the original Mountain Justice organizers had extens ive experience with more radical direct action groups such as Earth First!, CG0 was initiated in part by Mike Roselle, one of the four activists who co founded Earth First! in 1980. Methods and principles honed in the forest campaigns of the 1980s and 199 0s and from the Buffalo Field Campaign (a campaign to protect wild bison herds in Montana and Wyoming) have continued to influence contemporary activists in Appalachia. 93 Following the 2005 rally at Marsh Fork Elementary, activists continued to turn toward more non violent direct action tactics to both raise awareness about the issue of mountaintop removal and physically stall or halt the continued production of coal in specific sites. 2005 continued with a protest led by Mountain Justice Summer activists at a National Coal peacefully trespassed on mine property or refused to leave when commanded by police. Other smaller events, organized by members of Mountain Justi ce, Climate Ground Zero, and other 93 This chronology is derived in large part from my field notes, working and discussing with Appalachian activists, specifically, a panel of Mountain Justice organizers at the 2010 Mountain Justice Summer Camp in Kentucky.
159 associated groups, involved more controversial tactics. On May 23, 2009, six activists locked themselves with chains to mining equipment at the Massey mine on Kayford Mountain. On June 19 of the same year, others attemp ted to scale a drag line on another Massey mine and release a banner, and in August, members of Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice conducted a tree sit at a mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia, temporarily halting all blasting in the area (Nace 201 0:207 212). 94 Lock downs, tree sits, and banner hangings (tactics developed among earlier radical environmentalists) are employed by activists in Appalachia to temporarily stop mining activity and provide media events to raise awareness about the issue. Direct action events brought new attention to the movement in Appalachia, but other activists in the region remained skeptical of tactics like lock downs that could potentially damage property, fearing increased violent retribution from miners. Concerns o ver direct action tactics were addressed on the weekend of September 25 26, when hundreds of activists, citizens, and University, in Washington D.C. This weekend eve nt included numerous presentations from coal field residents, activist trainings, and informational panels and the various components of mountaintop removal mining and other environmental threats in Appalachia. On September 27, hundreds of p articipants co nducted a legally permitted march through downtown Washington D.C., pausing at the offices of the EPA, a local PNC Bank branch (a bank that at the time was a substantial financier for mountaintop mines), and finally in front of the White House, where over 100 peaceful demonstrators were arrested for blocking the sidewalk (see Figure 4 9). Despite this strict commitment to total non violence, some groups such as the Alliance for Appalachia, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, and the Sierra Club endorsed only 94 For a detailed account of the many coal focused direct actions conducted around the world, in cluding Appalachia, betwee n 2003 and 2009, see Nace 2010: 183 212.
160 95 Nonetheless, Appalachia Rising represented a cooperative future for the diverse groups involved with the challenge to mountaintop removal mining. Though differences in motivations and ex pectations persisted, Appalachia Rising nonetheless revealed the potential for all voices to ultimately be heard. Conclusion By the middle of 2011, the opposition movement to mountaintop removal had become one of the most well documented environmental and social justice movements in the United States. Contemporary groups have direct connections to the anti surface mining campaigns of the 1960s, and even to union activism of the early 20 th century. These periods of activism corresponded to political and t echnological changes within Appalachia and the coal mining industry as it shifted from deep mining to large scale surface mining and mountaintop removal. Although the groups that emerged through the 20 th century shared a commitment to end surface mining p ractices, they made different arguments against the practice, conflicted over appropriate tactics for resistance, and offered contrasting visions for the future of Appalachia after mountaintop removal ended. 95
161 Figure 4 1. Depiction of various forms of deep and surface mining. Source: Kentucky http://www.uky.edu/KGS/coal/coal_mining.htm (accessed March 21, 2011). Figure 4 2. Active mountaintop mine on Kayford Mountain, West Virginia. Photo by author, July 4, 2010.
162 Figure 4 3. Active mountaintop removal mine on Black Mountain, at the border of Kentucky and Virginia. Photo by author, May 30, 2010. Figure 4 4. A secti on of the Hobet #21 mine in Logan County, West Virginia. This section is in the process of reclamation. Photo by author, July 16, 2010.
163 Figure 4 5. A section of partially reclaimed mountaintop removal land on Kayford Mountain, West Virginia. Photo by au thor, July 3, 2009. Figure 4 6. A reclaimed section of Hobet #21 in Logan County, West Virginia. The rocky path is a reclaimed creek, and the pond is to hold back runoff to prevent flooding the house that sits a few hundred yards below this site. Photo by author, July 16, 2010.
164 Figure 4 7. Reclaimed surface mine land near Hazard, Kentucky. Note the attempt to restore natural looking hills. Photo by author, July 12, 2009. Figure 4 8. The line between original forest and reclaimed mountaintop removal site on Kayford Mountain, West Virginia. While the restoration here is only a few years old, the extent of ecosystem change is obvious. Photo by author, July 3, 2009.
165 Figure 4 9. Activists stand outside the EPA offices in Washington D.C. as part of the Appalachia Rising March. Standing under the banner are (from left to right) West Virginia activists Chuck Nelson (with hands in pockets), Larry Gibson (with fist raised), Maria Gunnoe (holding poster), and Lorelei Scarbro (with megaphone). Photo by autho r, September 29, 2010.
166 CHAPTER 5 OF VALUES AND MOUNTA INS: IDENTITY POLITI CS AND PERCEPTIONS O F THE LAND IN MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL DISCOURSE On the night of January 18, 2010, comedian Stephen Colbert had Margaret Palmer, the lead author of a Science study on the impacts of mountaintop removal, as a guest on his popular political satire show (Palmer et al. 2010). Introducing Palmer, Colbert noted (in his normal great! You start with some boring, tree covered mountain and you turn it into an exciting, lifeless moon base. Plus, [mountaintop removal] is the most efficient way to get the coal inside remove my teeth through the you think these mountains would just as ea sily blow us up? Have you heard of Vesuvius, or egregious excesses of the mining industry. His commentary revealed that by 2010, criticism of mountaintop removal had gained pop culture power. For anti mountaintop removal activists, this was truly a high point for spreading information about the issue. Arguments both for and a gainst mountaintop removal had become mainstream an especially significant change given how activists like Larry Gibson fought for years without much recognition even from local media. Contemporary discourse surrounding mountaintop removal focuses on sev eral important themes: supporters argue for the need of supporting the jobs of hard working locals against the uninformed, privileged outsider environmentalists who seek only personal gain; opponents, on the other hand, cite environmental, social, and cult ural damages to the practice, occasionally
167 material conditions that drive these different arguments both for and against mountaintop removal, but broader value claims, deeply tied to historical conditions and religious expressions in the coal fields. Arguments for and Against Mountaintop Removal: Values in Action Mountaintop removal is directly related to the longer history of mining in Appalachia, so its per sistence in the region is due to many subtle factors. Mountaintop removal supporters most frequently argue that benefits including employment and land development necessitate the continuation of the practice. Opponents to mountaintop removal argue direct ly against practice. All arguments combine material evidence (in the form of scientific or economic data) with normative claims regarding the proper place of huma ns in nature. Examining these different claims reveals the divergent assumptions underlying the views of mountaintop removal supporters and opponents. Arguments Supporting Mountaintop Removal One of the most frequently used arguments in favor of mountai ntop removal is that the process provides employment to the depressed region. In 2009, the coal industry in Eastern Kentucky, S outhern West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee employed 37,336 individuals, including all employees engaged in production, prep aration, processing, development, maintenance, repair shop, or yard work at mining operations, including office workers those, 14,234 (or about 38%) worked in association to surface mines (EIA 2009:44) 96 While 96 T his number does not include all employment for Kentucky and West Virginia, but just numbers f rom the areas most impacted by mountaintop removal. Statistics that include all of Kentucky and West Virginia, or the Appalachian region more generally, would inevitably be higher. Employment data is only kept for mines offering at least 5,000 employee h ours per year.
168 this number includes many non mining jo bs, the West Virginia Coal Association (WVCA), a coal industry lobby and advocacy group, argued that eight jobs somewh 4), including service industry jobs and employment produced by ot her economic investments. If end estimate is true for the entire survey area, the coal industry is responsible for nearly 300,000 jobs in West Virginia 97 Of course, such a statistic is difficult to evaluate. salaries make coal jobs attractive to many Appalachians. According to the West Virginia Coal Association, the average West Virginia miner salary in 2009 as $68,500 per year, significantly higher than the 2009 national household average of $49,777 ( DeNavas Walt, Proctor, and Smith 2010: 4 ; WVCA 2010:6 ). This figure includes both underground and surface miners, but it is easy to see how one individual employed by the coal industry can support an extended family, especially in Appalachia where cos t of living create s large groups of coal supporters who may only indirectly benefit from mine employment. Among supporters, proposed regulations on surface mining mean fewer jobs. In a message posted on the West Vir ginia Coal Association website shortly after the Obama a dministration announced a review of new mountaintop removal permits in 2009, association We call upon our Congressional repre sentatives, our local and state elected officials and everyone concerned about the future of our state and our region to let the EPA and the Obama Administration know this effort to destroy the Eastern coal industry must come to a stop. We call upon the E PA and the Obama Ad jobs in Appalachia trumped the environment al concerns of policymakers or total ecosystem 97 The Kentucky Coal Association makes a similar argument for Kentucky mining. See Kentucky Coal Association 2008.
169 health. This is a version of the well argument, or the idea that environmental regulations necessitate a net loss in jobs, infusing much contemporary debate surrounding environmental issues (Goodstein 1994). Raney is not the only coal industry supporter to make this claim. A report prepared by analysts at West Virginia University and Marshall University and partially funded by the West Virginia major threat to the coal industry comes from the potential limitations on surface mining permits currently imposed by ess and Economic Research 2010: 7). The report concluded, is coal. This report documents that statement. As it spread throughout the state, the loss of coal production or even its substantial reduction in use would have serious consequences. West Virginia is a low income state. Reduction in the use of coal would worsen an already bad situation particularly in those areas which are most in need of jobs an d income. At the same time the demands placed on State government would accelerate for public assistance, support of schools and medical services. But the reduced income received by the State would leave it without the fiscal resources to respond. The ben efits from coal in this report hav It was not our intention to make the coal industry appear to be more important than it is. But its value to the state should not be underestimated (Bureau of Business and Economic Research 201 0:53). In essence, the report argued that surface mining must continue because, despite environmental problems, West Virginians need the jobs the industry provides. Raney remains a spokesman for the West Virginia coal industry and his rhetoric emphasiz the report opens the door for skepticism about their claims of neutrality. As some economists have already
170 represents more a rhetorical tool for opponents of env ironmental regulations to influence popular audiences (Goodstein 1994; Morgenstern, Pizer, and Shih 2002). Rebecca Scott convincingly economic progress and are tied to broader issues of race and masculinity in Appalachia. She versus the environment aphorism has become common sense and reflects the well worn articulations between a particular conception of the human relationship to nature and a unili employ this dualism fail to acknowledge either alternative modes of production or alternative labor within the larger capitalist market, excluding other work such as subsistence farming or unpaid, local labor. that reducing mountaintop removal can only hu rt Appalachian employment, entirely neglecting the possibility, cited by mountaintop removal opponents, that stopping mountaintop removal could help diversify local economies by promoting employment in alternative energies, tourism, and related industries. The arguments of Raney and others, then, reflect deeper assumptions Scott went further with her critiques, showing that such assumptions are tied to broader placed within a jobs versus the things like providing for a famil In Appalachian mining culture, supported by mountaintop removal proponents, the working man is tough, modern, and thoroughly masculine (Scott 2010:67). Perceived threats to this source of
171 em ployment challenged deeply seeded values, shared throughout U.S. culture. Scott continued, masculinity of providership, and moral citizenship. The importance of white breadwinning masculinity to ideals of American citizenship makes a mine closure a morally threatening event t normative assumptions related to values of masculinity, labor, and American identity. For supporters of mountaintop removal, these remain some of the core values to protect the industry from environmentalists and politicians who they believe threaten th eir security. While supporting miners and their families, mountaintop removal advocates argue that the practice boosts regional economies as well, generating new business, providing local tax revenues and generally promoting development. These arguments are intimately tied to implicit environmental values and conceptions of human/nature relationships. Though severance taxes on coal were only approved in the late 20 th century in Appalachian states, following the long debates over strip mining (see Montri e 2003), the West Virginia Coal Association positively touted the $379 million paid in severance tax to the state in 2009 (WVCA 2010:15). The Kentucky Coal Association (a group similar to the WVCA) likewise cited $221.4 million in severance tax to the sta te of Kentucky in 2006 (KCA 2008:i). According to supporters, these payments directly support community development in the coalfields and across Appalachia. Beyond these more quantifiable benefits, mountaintop removal supporters also argue that the pract ice improves the economic value of the land. Following the AOC provision from SMCRA, surface mine operators may avoid reclaiming post mine land if they provide projects for the economic development of the area. This has resulted in numerous development p rojects
172 th roughout Appalachia (see Figure 5 1 ), and according to mountaintop removal supporters, these changes ultimately benefi t mountaineers by raising property values and providing flat land for businesses, housing developments, and public facilities. Contrary to critics, mountaintop removal supporters argue that improvements long afterward (WVCA 2010:40). A Kentucky Coal Association pamphlet claimed that oal mining creates valuable l ands such as wildlife habitats, gently rolling mountaintops, wetlands, and industrial sites where only steep, unproduc tive hillsides had once existed (2008:i). According to the association, mountaintop mining offers a marked improvement, ecologically, ec landscape. This sentiment was expressed years earlier by the controversial Secretary of the Interior, James Watt. Visiting a reclaimed strip mine in the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia in 19 CORAspondent June 1982, Appalachian Alliance Records, Box 5, Folder 9). For some mountaintop removal supporters the value of nature is fundamentally tied to its economic productivity for some mountaintop removal supporters. These arguments express value judgments about the proper relationships between humans and nature. Like the beautiful statue lying potential ly within a block of marble, invisible until revealed by the hand of a sculptor, mountaintop removal, in the eyes of some supporters, represents an opening of the unproductive landscape to its true potential. Rebecca Scott noted, (2010:177). This utilitarian and anthropocentric view of nature solely in its ability to benefit humans has infused U.S. environmental history, as no ted by numerous scholars (Nash 1989, 2001). In his groundbreaking history of environmental thought,
173 trace back to the origins of Western history, to the ancient Gr eeks and their medieval Christian intellectual descendants (1967:vii). Within the medieval Christian context, religious concepts of 2001:38). In the minds of man y European thinkers (who provided much of the background for environmental thought in the United States), humans stood morally above the remainder of nature, allowing any use of the natural world that in some way benefited human needs. According to influe ntial environmental historian Caroline Merchant, European Renaissance emphasis upon rationality led to a general shift toward a more mechanistic conceptualization of humans and the world, where the natural world was no longer a moral subject but a collecti on of objects (Merchant 1983:192; Peterson 2001:42 46). Moreover, this conceptual shift reflected a co devaluation of both women and the environment. Domination of nature was directly connected to the domination of all things feminine. 98 These utilitaria n visions of nature, combined with a related devaluation of the feminine, have influenced U.S. history. Given the prevalence of utilitarian anthropocentrism, it is understandable why mountaintop removal enjoys strong support among many. The practice fits within a worldview promoting a capitalist vision of economic progress, a male centered vision of work and family, and a unified vision of ideal American citizenship. Supporters of mountaintop removal, then, do not just cite purely material reasons for con tinuing to support the practice. Instead, arguments based on local economic benefits, employment, and duty to provide energy to the U.S. public are necessarily tied to normative assumptions, valuing specific social and economic conditions. These values h ave long histories in Appalachian culture, and their articulation in support of 98 asculine technology of control against irrational and feminine c 80).
174 mountaintop removal is in many ways a modern continuation of similar economic and social arguments dating back to the establishment of the coal industry in Appalachia, when fam ily life largely shifted from agrarian to wage labor based, and when extractive industries claimed control of Appalachian economic and political futures. 99 Recognizing this long history is necessary to understand why some contemporary Appalachians continue to support mountaintop removal, culturally. Arguments Opposing Mountaintop Removal Opponents to mountaintop removal cite numerous reasons necessitating the end of the practice. Many of the arguments made against the practice are rearticulations of earlier discussions on the subject, dating back to the 1960s. However, mountaintop removal occurs on a scale much greater than surface mining of the 1960s, it feeds an American energy economy that has only become more demanding, and the resistance movement has incorporated methods and approaches derived from other radical environmental and social justice movements around the world. Though based in arguments from the 196 0s era of resistance, modern anti mountaintop removal action remains distinct. Evidence of the damages of mountaintop removal is easy to find. Most popular books and reports on the subject, such as Burns 2007, Shnayerson 2008, Loeb 2008, contain at lea st (2009), prepared for the National Resources Defense Council, summarizes scientific and economic evidence for the negative impacts of mountaintop mining. Envi ronmental websites 99 Though such an exploitative view of the natural world was not necessarily a permanent feature of Appalachian culture. In his important study of early mine disasters, Paul Rakes shows t disasters as inevitable, m uch like war time deaths (2009: 77). As Merchant and other would note, the conc ept of
175 also contain valuable details about the damages of mountaintop removal. 100 The damages of mountaintop removal cited by opponents can be divided into three major categories: ecological, economic, and cultural. Just as with practice suppor ters, some of the underlying values of opponents emerge through analysis of the arguments made against mountaintop removal. The ecological impacts of mountaintop removal have been well documented in scientific journals, in government hearings, through pop ular media, and through legal testimony. One of the best the esteemed journal Science (Palmer et al. 2010). 101 The authors surveyed scientific literature on mountaint op removal impacts and found evidences for significant biodiversity loss and pollution surrounding mine sites. Runoff from mine sites increases levels of toxic metals such as selenium and other compounds like sulfuric acid, which can negatively impact aqu atic biota. One study cited by Palmer et al. found that 73 of 78 streams in proximity to mountaintop mines contained selenium levels greater than the threshold for toxic bioaccumulation (meaning the selenium was highly likely to be toxic for fish and thei r predators) (Palmer et al. 2010:148; Lemly 2009). Much of the early litigation against mountaintop removal focused on water quality issues and the failure of government agencies to protect streams from valley fills, and the Sludge Safety Project, a West Virginia based environmental group, especially focuses on water quality monitoring throughout the region. 102 Although mine companies attempt to return undeveloped mined land to its approximate original contour, humans cannot entirely replace the former geo logical structure, soil quality, or 100 See especially www.ilovemountains.org for an extensive list of resources and updated i nformation on current mountaintop removal policies and impacts (accessed May 23, 2011). 101 See also Perks 2009 for an accessible summary of mountaintop removal and recent statistics concerning damages. 102 See http: //www.sludgesafety.org/ (accessed May 23, 2011).
176 biotic diversity of mined land. 103 Studies cited by Palmer et al. revealed that some reclaimed mines showed almost no vegetation regrowth even 15 years after reclamation. Limited regrowth could result in reduced carbon s equestration in the region. Researchers estimated that, 60 years after reclamation, mountaintop mine sites would only reach 77% of the level of carbon sequestration of the surrounding forest (Palmer et al. 2010:149). Beyond ecological damage, mountaintop removal may impact human health in surrounding communities. e levated levels of airborne, hazardous dust have been documented around surface mining operations. Adult hospitalizations for chronic pulmonary disorders and hypertension are elevated as a function of county level coal production, as are rates of mortality; lung cancer; and chronic heart, lung, and kidney disease (2010:148). A 2011 study based on self reported public health statistics found markedly lower res ults near mountaintop removal sites than other parts of Appalachia. The report concluded, related quality of life] disparities p mining] zones in the economic risks and suggest that the environ mental impacts of MTM may also play a role in the health health impacts, some communities have taken legal actions against coal companies. In some communities, such as Prenter, West Virginia, groundwater has become undrinkable, prompting citizens to sue for clean water from coal companies (Duhigg 2009). In 2005, Pauline Canterbury Massey 103 The 1996 Southern Appalachian Assessment prepared by the Southern Appalachian Man and the Biospher Cooperative, provides an accessible introduction to environmental conditions throughout Appalachia.
177 concerning a nearby coal preparation plant that consistently rained dust onto their community. Massey was forced to encase portions of the plant in a plastic containment area to reduce polluion (Burns 2009; Canterbury and Miller n.d; Shnayerson 200 8). In 2011, lawyers brought a civil lawsuit against Massey Energy on behalf of former students of Marsh Fork Elementary School, claiming that attendance at the school resulted in adverse health impacts (Lannom 2011). The result of that lawsuit will like ly have important ramifications for the total legal battle against mountaintop removal. Given evidence of reduced ecological functioning and damages to human health, Palmer and her fellow authors concluded strongly that mountaintop removal and valley fill (2010:149). Health impacts are often tied to negative economic impacts and econ omists point to the expenses of healthcare in the region as evidence for imbalances between costs to communities and benefits enjoyed by coal companies. After ascribing worth to human lives and health, and then comparing their loss through mining impacts a gainst economic gains made by mining researchers published a much more wide ranging report on full economic accounting for all areas of coal production, transportation, processing, and combustion, including elements generally externalized onto nearby communities including healthcare costs, pollution cleanup, and public infras tructure maintenance. The study concluded that the coal industry costs the United States $345.3 billion annually. 104 Reflecting this cost in the price of coal fueled electricity would triple 104 Th ough given the variability in accounting externalities, the report showed that the cost could be as high as $523.3 billion.
178 the consumer price, thus rendering coal fueled electricity far le ss economically competitive to concluded, it would become clear to all that coal is not a cheap source of energy. Opponents of mountaintop removal als mountaintop removal creates and maintains jobs in an economically depressed region. Coal production and employment inevitably fluctuates through the years, as international market demands dictate. However, in the first half of the 20 th century, when most mining was done underground, the Appalachian coal industry generally employed well over 100,000 miners. In the first decade of the 21 st century, as more production has shifted to mechanized methods, including mountaintop removal, mining only accounts for about 1% of total Appalachian employment. In 2009, the entire Appalachian region employed 20,549 surface miners, and 37,430 in underground mines. Despite this substantial reduction in employment, total coal pr oduction actually increased by 2.3% from 1973 to 2003 (Bonskowski, Freme, and Watson 2007; Perks 2009:6 7; EIA 2009:38). Surface mining provides jobs, but far fewer than the coal history of anti union Jim Lewis, a retired Episcopal priest based in West Virginia, noted the historical disconnect among contemporary mine employees. He said in particularly a lot of younger people and I understand their hunger for jobs and to take care of their families I really do but I wonder how much they really know or appreciate the struggles the mining industry has gone through or the way it has lost to these corporate giants that are
179 increased reg ulations will require wide spread layoffs, but some mountaintop removal opponents see those claims as empty threats. Carol Warren, a director of OVEC, said that coal companies of dollars of coal on for Community Economic Diversification (SEED) project focus on shifting Appalachian economies away from coal and providing new sources of employment, such as in wind and other alternative energy development and production. 105 activists and scholars focused on Appalachian poverty and environmental sustainability. Finally, some opponents of mountaint op removal argue that destroying the natural environment of Appalachia threatens a distinct Appalachian culture. As Kentucky writers and environmental problem. It also has political, social, ethical, economic, and most of all viewed the entrance of the coal industry in Appalachia as an extension of colonial economic policies, oppressing local c ultures in favor of resource extraction. For some activists, mountaintop removal represents the continuation of this colonial enterprise, removing the physical grounding of Appalachian cultural practice. Judy Bonds, the famous anti mountaintop removal ac tivist, expressed this view in many of her public addresses. In an interview, she noted how the first European settlers of 105 See http://www.maced.org/ and http://www.crmw.net/crmw/sustainable_energy_economic_diversification for more information (accessed May 23, 2011).
180 from hardships, she continued, but in so Christians for the Mountains, similarly noted that Appalachians have relied upon forest products for subsistence, but Since the arrival of the coal industry, many scholars and activists argue that local citizens have been forced to give in to the de mands of company officials against their own interests. economic powers and criticize any who do (Gaventa 1980:161). For some activists, the solution to this oppressive influence lies in rearticulating a specific Appalachian culture and identity. In i t is time that we hill folk should understand and appreciate our heritage, stand up like those who were our ancestors, develop our own self identity. It is time to realize that nobody from the outside is ever going to save us from bad conditions unless we make our own stand. We must learn to organize again, spe ak, plan, ). Calling back to a perceived historical tradition of self reliance, West believed that the solution to Appalachian problems lay with the efforts of mountaineers themselves, not outside charities. Like Bonds, West argued that an Appalachian culture of s elf reliance was at once threatened by and the solution to industry oppression. While those involved with mountaintop removal discuss its impacts upon local culture, the nature of that culture in question is not self evident. Further explanation of what mountaintop removal opponents and proponents mean by Appalachian culture is needed. Themes in Resistance: Identity and Culture in Mountaintop Removal Discourse Depending upon the perspective of mountaintop removal opponents and supporters, a unique mount ain culture is either threatened by mountaintop removal or the environmentalists who
181 allegedly seek to destroy the coal industry. Behind all of these claims lie specific conceptions of Appalachian identity. In examining broadly the multiple values articu lated around mountaintop removal discourse, it is necessary to analyze cultural values and identity politics. In the context of mountaintop removal debates, this mainly entails two areas: first, the problematic claims of insider privilege and differing vi sions of Appalachian identity, and second, the deployment of Appalachian cultural forms (such as music and dance) in support of mountaintop removal resistance. Who Speaks for the Mountains?: Insiders and Outsiders in Mountaintop Removal Debates One of the most common accusations made against mountaintop removal protestors is that they are all outsiders to the region who do not understand Appalachian culture and who only seek to hurt local communities without any effort at resolving the problems those commun ities face. This outsider vs. insider rhetoric has been prominent in environmental debates through the twentieth century. While deployed strategically by coal officials and supporters, claims that masks the diversity among activists. t a June 2009 rally and march in support of the children at Marsh Fork Elementary School, for example, dozens of miners and their familie Outsiders: Go 2 ). 106 The dominant message from the assembled miners and their families was that they represent true local inte Similarly, at an annual July 4 th 2009 picnic on Larr unemployed and possibly intoxicated miners trespassed onto the land and walked into the assembled crowd 106 Rally for Marsh Fork Elementary Sch ool, Sundial, West Virginia, June 23,
182 family and supporters, cursing at all in attendance and attempting to start fights One especially present at the event where out of hugg ers 107 While it is true that some of the of land on Kayford Mountain has been in his family for over 200 years. Despite the agitated Mountain was not his land, and he surely was not there first. This course. Charges against meddling outsiders also frequently appear in the comments under online news reports and Youtube videos. Dave Cooper, the long time anti mountaintop removal activist and performer of the Mountaintop Removal Road Show, entered into a debate with a e videos. After you really can't make comments about mining. My 1st cousin was just injured in a mine accident. Thats the recent [sic] My Grandpa was in Bloody Harlem [sic] thats the past. My own father left the mines so don't try to preach mine safety to me When Cooper replied that he was ot You do realize MTM [mountaintop mining] will not stop. Only 107 ield notes. The threatening miner was later identified as Adam Pauley. During the event, Pauley and others wandered through the crowd, yelling obscenities apparently seeking to provoke violence. At one point, Pauley made a throat slicing gesture toward a man and his young daughter. More than two months later, in September 2009, Pauley was formally charged with disorderly conduct for his actions on Kayford Mountain, though the charge only resulted in a minimal fine. The incident was filmed and uploaded to various internet sites. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gjc7Jg_gMy0&feature=related (accessed 21 September 2009).
183 Railroade offering the Mountaintop Removal Road Show, there are few in Appalachia more informed these details did not matter. When proven wrong on facts, she retreated to the genetic fallacy, than the focusing on the content of his argument. Mine executives and their representatives support such divisive views and do little to promote more reasonable discussion. Following the same June 2009 protest at Marsh Fork Elementary, which was attended by the famous actress and environmental activist Daryl Hannah, Massey employee Chris Adkins told a local reporter people from Seattle and New York coming in for the summer and taking West Virgi and going back home (Ayres 2009). While some of the activist s present at the event may have been from Seattle or New York, the event was organized by local groups, including Coal River Mountain Watch. Similarly, while some of the activists may have only been temporarily involved with the issue, many of the organiz ers, such as Judy Bonds, were permanent residents Former Massey CEO Don Blankenship made a similar statement about the protest, anyone inviting out of state environmental protesters from San Francisco and a Hollywood actress Adkins were made specifically to foster local animosity toward the protestors. Utilizing the outside, self interested force will remove their livelihoods.
184 Though many of the most prominent anti mountaintop removal activists, including Judy Bonds, Larry Gibson, and Maria Gunnoe, have deep ancestral roots in Appalachia, painting all tactics. The underlying claim is that a longer history in a region and residence there gi ves an individual a their credibility in public discourse on t he issue. For their part s local opponents of mountaintop removal tend to be much more welcoming of outside interest. They realize that forces outside of the region are needed to change local mining policies and to challenge the larger fossil fuels cultu 108 Given the need for help from outside of the region and the understanding that mountaintop removal is tied to a national energy eco nomy and thus not simply a local issue, many mountaintop removal opponents have worked to welcome participants from outside of disturbing incident on July 4, 2009, wh en violence nearly erupted at his property, I asked Larry about the Appalachians. Appalachia belongs to the United States. You could be in California, or be in W ashington State somewhere, and what happens in App alachia is still your What people do here, it affects people elsewhere, as far as the health and wellbeing of ntop removal is truly an American issue, not only an Appalachian issue. Bo Webb, a West Virginian 108 Women in Service to Appalachia meeting, Hazard, Kentucky
185 and co some activists, history proves that outsiders are needed for local changes to occur. Citing the Civil Rights Movement, Bob from the outside coming in to S peop companies and coal bosses in response to industry charges against allegedly outsider environmentalists. When asked about the issue of outsiders, Kentucky artist Jeff Ch apman 109 ; Arch Mineral based in St. outside this region. They are the outsiders. They have no righ Crane 2010). These arguments concerning industry leaders as outsiders date th century as cau ses of environmental devastation and social oppression (Caudill 1983, Williams 2003). Reverend Jim Lewis, a retired Episcopalian priest and long time social justice activist, offered a particularly Christian perspective on the insider/outsider issue. For Lewis, like others, I 109 Chapman Crane is referring to TECO Energy, the Tampa based energy conglomerate.
186 up these state lines and all in this great union we have (Lewis 2009). T hose who attack perceived outsiders, he continued, operated from deep fears. Speaking specifically about the near ay stran ge things Lewis viewed it as a moment to practice compassion and follow the model of Jesus. He explained how Jesus actively reached to outsiders of his own Jewish community; he broadened his circle, and as a Christian activist, Lewis felt compelled to work toward a similar goal. He threats of violence and work toward building fellowship with those who feel threatened by those who have different values. Rather than simply pointing fingers at others, mountaintop removal opponents generally realize that the issue is tied to broader, global problems such as climate change and economic justice, and so they work to spread information about the issue and promote interest in observation that mountain Along with this work toward inclusiveness, there remain tensions within the broader anti mountain top removal movement between older Appalachian activists (many of whom became
187 involved during the earlier debates over strip mining) and newer groups, such as Mountain Justice. Some of this wariness derives from a history of mistreatment by national envir onmental groups. Following the passage of SMCRA in 1977, some strip mining opponents felt that their issue had been overtaken by national groups, who compromised on mine regulations rather than work for the total ban of strip mining that Appalachian activ ists wanted (Montrie 2003:182). This history has led to some cautiousness among Appalachian environmentalists when new groups enter the picture. As the West Virginia native, VISTA volunteer Rebekah Epling ing Coal is so powerful, you need help from Some fear that new groups perceived to come from outside of the area may redirect the focus of the anti mountaintop removal movement. Indeed, there is something of a division among activists between those who see mountaintop removal as one of many sites through which to confront the national fossil fuels economy and its connection to climate change, and those who believe coal itself is less the problem than simply saving specific Appalachian communities from been deeply involved in the movement against mountaintop removal since 2008 (even getting ar rested twice at different demonstrations). Hansen viewed mountaintop removal as a focal point for U.S. energy policies. In a 2009 op c oal is the linchpin in mitigating remo val coal while the administration is simultaneously seeking pol icies to boost renewable energy (Hansen 2009). In other words, no policy of climate change remediation could be considered effective while moun taintop removal continues. He w e mu st make clear to Congress, to the EPA, and to the Obama administration that we the people want mountaintop removal abolished and we
188 want a move toward a rapid p hase hand, there is a historical precede nt for locals to oppose surface mining yet still support the coal industry in general. In the 1970s and 80s, when many aged miners were interviewed about their views on strip mine regulation, some interesting responses emerged. Marvin Gullett, a retired deep miner from Kentucky, offered the following economic solution to strip mining in 1977: o inside work. Not take the tops of the mountains off. Stop st ). Reverend Roy Crist, an Episcopal priest fro not opposed to coal mining, and we are not opposed to coal miners, as the coal companies would definitely like everybody to believe. But we do have a problem with blowing tops off the coal, rather than an immediate block to all fossil fuel usage (Bonds 2009), while other national groups and their representatives focus on mountaintop removal as a symptom of a broader fossil fuel dependency. Some fear that the direct action tactics of groups like Mountain Justice and Climate Ground Zero may alienate locals, and repeated lock downs and arrests ultimately burn bridges that previous organizers spent years building. In response to the emergence of Mountain Justice and Climate Ground Zero, several older Appalachian groups, including Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, and Coal River Mountain Watch, joined togethe r into the Alliance for Appalachia in 2006 to provide a concerted environmentalist
189 voice, distinguishable from the newer groups. 110 The Alliance for Appalachia continued many of the campaigns from previous decades, including legal challenges to mountaintop removal permits and promoting alternative energies throughout the region. While it is not accurate to draw strict distinctions between Mountain Justice and related groups and the groups within the Alliance for Appalachia, it is true that Alliance member o rganizations tend to promote rallies and non conducts a regular Week in Washington event where participants meet policymakers and discuss the damages of mountaintop re moval in person. Chris Martin, a young United Mountain Defense activist from Tennessee, also noted the possible pitfalls of direction actions. He said So while I agree with the use of the tactic to stop mountaintop removal, I also know we need to come up with some sort of Martin, direct action was just one of many tactics to stop mountaintop removal, best when used alongside other methods such as community organization and listening projects. Of course, no direct action in the contemporary anti mountaintop removal movement (since 2004) has reached the level of violence of anti surface mini ng protest of the 1960s, when gun shots and property destruction occurred. Those who fear violence may erupt from contemporary protestors may do so remembering the violence of previous generations. This perception of radical activists was somewhat contr oversially reproduced in the working to create holistic, accessible, and educational 110 See http://www.theallianceforappalachia.org/ (accessed May 23, 2011).
190 images that inspire critical reflection and str 111 The Appalachia and conducted research among activists, coal lobbyists, and locals. Their goal was to create an image that best portrayed the perspectives on mountaintop removal, as will be discussed in greater detail below. Significantly to many younger Appalachian activists, the final ac tivists as outsiders imposing themselves upon local communities. In the detail (Figure 5 3), a mortar board wearing (and thus a recent college graduate) rabbit parachutes into a much larger activist scene. The rabbit carries a sign with the clinched fist image popularized by Earth First! and a U lock, used by some activists to lock themselves to machinery, doors, etc. Immediately behind follows a documentarian turtle, carrying the typical accoutrements of her profession, including a laptop. These activ ists must parachute into the local scene because they are not themselves local, they are quite literally dropping into a broader movement, and as some could interpret, imposing their methods and perspectives onto local activists. Some activists in Appalac hia took issue with this portrayal. In response to these critiques, the Bees added a marshalling rabbit and moth representing longtime local activists. The radical rabbit and turtle are not simply imposing themselves upon the scene, then, but are being g uided by the locals whom they intend to serve. For their parts, Mountain Justice and other groups typically associated with young, outsider, radical activists, have worked to change the perception of their groups as disrespectful outsiders. Mountain Just ice workshops and camps, which typically attract college aged activists 111 March 19, 2010. The Collective also maintains a website featuring more detail on their projects, www.beehivecollective.org (accessed May 23, 2010).
191 from outside of the Appalachian coalfields, contain several workshops on Appalachian cultural sensitivity. Young activists are informed that they should respect the opinions of locals and not pretend to be local themselves. In the planning for the 2010 Appalachia Rising march in Washington, D.C., organizers were clear that local Appalachians would lead the march and that they would determine the types of action taken. It was ultimate ly decided that marchers would peacefully sit outside the White House, accepting arrest if necessary but in no way resisting or risking damage to property, and the organizers of the march asked all participants to follow will promote a tone of respect, honesty, transparency, and accountability in our actions. We will use no violence (physical or verbal) towards any person. 112 Anybody who chose different actions, such as locking down to property or hanging banners, had to do so outside of the aegis of Appalachia Rising. If it was ever true that young, outsider, radical activists descended upon Appalachia and attempted to redirect the anti mountaintop removal movement, it is clear now that they are working to bridge those perceived earlier divisions between groups. The movement against mountaintop removal coal mining involves individuals both from within and without the Appalachian coalfields. While some mountaintop removal supporters attempt to use this to fragment local communities and discredit anybody who opposes the mining divisions and create spaces of cooperation within the movement where all who share the common goal of stopping mountaintop removal feel welcome. This does not mean, however, that sometimes problematic politics of identity are completely absent from anti mountaintop removal discourse. 112 From a pamphlet dis
192 Culture in Action: Visions of A ppalachian Identity in Mountaintop Removal Opposition While many anti mountaintop removal activists are clear that anybody interested in helping Appalachian communities is welcome, regardless of their place of birth, claims about Appalachian distinctivenes s are still made. Indeed, many activists point to the destruction of a unique culture as one of the many costs of mountaintop removal. Part of the reason mountaintop removal has been allowed to continue, some argue, is because of negative stereotypes of Appalachians as hillbillies. Activists work not only to raise awareness about the physical destruction of mountaintop removal, but also raise awareness about the dangers of cultural stereotypes of mountain people. Many in the movement celebrate visions o f traditional Appalachian culture, including music, dance, and foodways. In representing Appalachian culture, though, activists as well make claims regarding its nature. The presence of banjos and e, shows that these are considered to be standard elements of traditional Appalachian culture. More problematic, though, are competing claims about Appalachian identity, and despite some efforts to break down stereotypes, identity politics nonetheless mak e their way into the movement. In the same segment of his show featuring mountaintop removal that I introduced in this happens in Appalachia, and the only pe ople it affects are the one remaining group that everybody still feels comfortabl Though if we keep taking away the mountains, an issue familiar to many Appalachians. For generations, Appalachian people have been stereotyped. While the history of these perceptions was discussed at depth in Chapter 2, many contemporary Appalachians with whom I talked said that stereotypes against th em are just as
193 strong today as they were in the late 19 th popular image of the hillbilly. In response, some activists have attempted to reclaim a positive Appalachian identity, to not let negative ste reotypes mask the damages done by mountaintop removal, and institute what most forceful spokespersons for this reclaimed hillbilly identity. At a 2009 fund raisi ng concert guys are, you understand that the rest of heade d bastard step child of America. 113 This negative view of the region leads to ignorance about the true costs of mountaintop removal. In the same speech, Bonds continued, w my culture. Let me explain to you about mountain folk, and about pe ople that can be self reliant and that can live off the land. Let me explain to you about my longer fo r your so called cheap energy. 114 For Bonds, confronting stereotypes presents a teaching moment to others, as well as a moment for locals to take pride in their own culture and identities. Coal River Mountain Watch, the group for which Bonds worked, even released t In his The United States of Appalachia journalist and mountaintop removal opponent Jeff Biggers similarly worked to reclaim the contributions of mountaineers and celebrate the and pioneering stalwarts, abolitionists, laborers, journalists, writers, activists, 113 Judy Bonds, s peech at Mountain Aid Concert, Shakori Hills, N orth C arolina, June 19, n otes. 114 Bonds, speech, June 19,
194 According to Bonds and Biggers, degrading the people of Appalachia is connected to the degradation of Appalachian environments. Partly in an effort to celebrate the positive contributions of Appalachian culture, and partly because many activists are from Appalachia and raised with these cultural traditions, many 21 st century activist g atherings feature lessons and performances of Appalachian music and dance. Music is ubiquitous at anti mountaintop rallies, and as Bron Taylor noted in his work with radical environmentalists, movement songs, written directly about specific issues and per formed at gatherings, are often key forms of ritualizing among activists (Taylor 2001a, 2001b). Music making in Appalachia is particularly unique because it frequently draws upon the long history of traditional Appalachian music (often performed with banj os, fiddles, or a capela 4 and 5 5]) and union Summer activists. They sang traditional s ongs and new protest songs and travelled among more radical circles to spread their message. Protest songs are not only heard at rallies, either. While introducing Judy Bonds as the keynote speaker at the 2008 Appalachian Studies Association meeting in H untington, West Virginia, historian Shirley Stewart Burns was prodded by the 115 One of the more recognizable groups of anti mountaintop removal musicians is Public Outcry, made up of K entucky environmental activists (including award winning author Silas House). Their music draws heavily upon the union era protest songs of Woody Guthrie and others. The group performs at protests and meetings around Appalachia and most of their 115 A recorded version of this song is also available on Coal Country Music (Heartwood 2009), the companion compact disc to the documentary Coal Country
195 original songs are meant to spread awareness about mountaintop removal and Appalachian to the human and environmental costs of mountaintop removal. Virginia native Jane Br anham ,/ it keeps on tearing the mountains Figure 5 4 ). Many of these songs are available on compact discs produced for fundraising, including Songs for the Mountains compiled by Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, and Coal Country M usic the companion CD to the documentary Coal Country The issue has also drawn more mainstream, professional musicians to contribute their works for the benefit of mountaintop removal awareness. Famous blue grass, country, and folk musicians such as Gi llian Welch, Bonnie Raitt, Natalie Merchant, Kathy Mattea, and Willie Nelson contributed songs to Coal Country Music Music is also one of the places where religion clearly blends with environmental values. Traditional hymns combine with religious themes in many protests songs. One example is ground/ And nothing but the hand of God shall ever tear it down./ Take your dozers and your dynamite and head on back to tow 116 Possibly the most frequently heard song at rallies and other anti mountaintop removal events is 116 http://www.myspace.com/publicoutcryky (accessed April 7, 2010).
196 the hymn Amazing Grace. Judy Bonds told me this was her favorite song (Bonds 2009), and I have w itnessed individuals break into singing it during tense situations. During a 2008 Blessing of the Mountain service near Ansted, West Virginia, for example, local miners arrived at the service to keep participants off of the mine site. When participants h eld the prayer service in the parking lot, the miners began heckling them. At one point, a miner began threatening and shouting directly at one of the attending preachers. In response, the participants began singing Amazing Grace. According to attendees the miners eventually joined the song, and afterwards, allowed the service to continue. When the Blessing of the Mountain was over, participants reported peaceful conversations with the assembled miners. A potentially tense situation, then, was diffuse d through the song that all participants, on both sides of the barriers, recognized (Crist 2009). a favorite by several anti mountaintop removal activists. Wri tten by the Kentucky born traditional musician in 1977, the song articulates a clear vision of Christian stewardship. Each earth as created by God) belongs to God. Humans are allowed to live in this garden provided second coming as understood by some Christian groups. Though the song unde rstands that God will eventually return, this does not mean that God remains entirely absent from creation, as the
197 the garden of my Lord/ and he walks in his the distinctly Appalachian Old Regular Baptist Church. While each verse may seem to profess environmental view proscribed to certain ev In other words, now is when Christians are accountable for the stewardship of creation, not later. ly Appalachian, evangelical visions of environmental stewardship. Perhaps that is one reason why the song remains so popular among local activists (House and Howard 2009: 23 44; Chapter 6). Traditional knowledge and crafts such as basket weaving, canning and edible forest products are also featured among anti mountaintop removal actions. At the 2010 Mountain Justice Summer Camp in Kentucky, Carol Judy, from the Clear Fork Community Institute, led sessions on local plants for assembled activists. The Cl ear Fork Community Institute, based in Eagan, Tennessee, provides educational projects for local and visiting students as a means of preserving local culture and reviving suffering community members. For many activists, this traditional Appalachian cultur e represents a model for future, off the grid practices; as such, young activists are eager to learn methods for living off of the land, making their own food, and finding their necessities from non corporate sources. This was reflected in the Beehive Col pre coal Appalachian culture, a drum wielding bear tells stories by a camp fire to basket weaving foxes and other assembled animals ( Figure 5 6 ). It is this t ype of traditional knowledge and social organization that mountaintop removal opponents seek to preserve. Becau se mountaintop removal opponents seek to save the cultures of Appalachia along with the ecosystems, and because many activists come f rom those cultural traditions themselves,
198 it is understandable why forms of Appalachian music, dance, and crafts feature so prominently in different events. The issue of cultural preservation, though, can be problematic if not handled carefully. Specific cultural reconstructions can sometimes mask or misrepresent other historical events and actors. For example, claims about the Scotch Irish heritage of mountaineers, when handled improperly, can mask the long historical contributions of African Americans in the coalfields. Likewise, claims that local plant knowledge is a direct continuation of American Indian practices, while true in many respects, can also seem to legitimate the oppression and removal of native peoples from the region if they are not pro perly historically situated. 117 In my experience, many people who know of positive stereotypes of Appalachia associate the culture with immigrants from the United Kingdom and Ireland. Similarly, when talking to Appalachian locals, many place their ancest ral origins in that European region. While it is certainly true that specific families immigrated to Appalachia from the United Kingdom and Ireland, bringing some of their cultural practices with them, the more general perception that Appalachian culture itself provides a direct link to late medieval British, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish cultures is largely the product of late 19 th and early 20 th century authors. This trope lo Saxon Anglo 1994:8). Many early commentators (and several contemporary writers as well) 118 emphasized 117 Rebecca Scott made identity by eternalizing the existence of Euro American settlements and erasing the original Native inhabitants of th e 127). 118 Though they do not take the more extreme position of the 19 th century wri t ers, David Hackett Fischer (2001), Grady McWhiney (1989), Richard Blaustein ( 2003), among others, point ed to historical and cultural connections between Appalachian and t he British Isles. Their work was not inaccurate, and Celtic connections in Appalachi a remain popular subjects among locals, but emphasizing one cultural element hides the contributions of other
199 connections between mountaineers and traditional Anglo Saxon and Celtic cultures, arguing that Appalachia presented a kind of static cultural island in the midst of national change. William Goodell Frost, the president of Bere a College between 1892 and 1920, argued this point in his Atlantic Monthly in 1899). Frost argued that Anglo Saxon arts such as spinning cloth (a practice had been preserved in Appalachia, as if in a museum (Frost 1899 :98). Scholars of the early 20 th century attempted to support the racial theories of Frost and others. Geographer Ellen Churchill Semple, writing in a 1901 issue of The Geographical Journal focused specifically on environmental conditions in explaining what she saw as a self evidently preserved medieval Anglo law of biology that an isolating environment operates for the preservation of a type by excluding all intermixture which would obliterate distinguishing characteristics. In these isolated communities, therefore, we find the purest Anglo Saxon stock in all as James Watt Raine (a professor of English at Berea College) argued that it was not Anglo Saxons but the Scotch Irish, a distinctly Protestant group from Northern Ireland and southern Scotland, w ho immigrated to colonial America in large numbers due to their conflicts with Elizabethan, Anglo Saxon British culture. He agreed with Semple that environmental isolation led to cultural preservation in Appalachia, though, saying hile the rest of the nation has grown far from our revolutionary ancestors, the Mountain People have been marooned on an island of mountains, and have remained very much the same as they x). Cecil Sharp, a British musicologist interested in folk traditions, famously travelled to Appalachia immigrants to the region and the numerous cultural exchanges that contributed to create contemporary Appalachian culture. See Williams 2004 for a good, brief analysis of Appalachian cultural history and folklife.
200 traditional forms than back in England (Whisnant 1983: 110 127). Several others established folk schools throughout Ap palachia at this time to preserve these traditional arts. Though Sharp himself eventually concluded that theses racial and cultural connections were not as solid as he had initially assumed, his work cont ributed greatly to the commonly held perception of many 119 conne ct the region to late medieval N though, has been in large part constructed by outside observers (though some of its elements do indeed reflect the practices of pre industrial Appalachian households). The trouble comes when individuals begin to promote certain elem the neglect of other complexities. David Whisnant provides what is probably the most influential study of the 19 th and 20 th All that is Native and Fine (1983). Discussing the many cultural preservation activities of the early 20 th especially if istory one becomes gradually aware that the manipulation of culture (at least, of culture construed in certain ways) inevitably reflects value and ideological differences as well as the inequalities inhering in class. Thus one must sooner or later conside r the politics of culture 8). By promoting certain visions of traditional culture, settlement schools and other cultural preservation efforts of the early 20 th industrial societies. 119 s in custom and outlook is not, I am finding, so much the result of remoteness as bad economic conditions. When there is coal and good wages to be earned, the families soon drop their old fashioned ways and begin to ape town man 83: 121).
201 Unwi ttingly, these preservationists likely played into the hands of coal companies and culture of poverty theorists who argued that increased mining could help elevate mou ntaineers out of their backward states. In the context of contemporary mountaintop remo val opponents, subtle rearticulations of take attention away from other cultural influences and developments. I ndividual families did travel directly to Appalachia from the British Isles, inevitably bringing with them certain cul tural practices h owever, it was immigrants from N orthern Europe, including Germany and Scandinavia, who brought log cabin home construction to the region. Likewise, the banjo, often thought of as the quintessential Appalachian instrument, is actually fro m Africa (Wil liams 2004: 135 137). Bluegrass music, too, is actually a combination of European based ballads with American blues and country music, both ultimately of Africa n American origin (Malone 2004: 125). Finally at certain times and places, African Americans made up a significant percentage of the mine worker force In West Virginia in 1890, for example, African Americans made up 21.5% of the mining workforce ( Laslett 1996a:33; Trotter 1990) By perpetuating an old and oversimplified conception of Appalachian culture, some anti mountaintop removal activists reinforce the damaging regional stereotypes that they already question. A second problematic cultural claim in Appalachia concerns indigenous heritage. Many Appalachian residents cite some Amer ican Indian heritage, generally from the Cherokee, one of the largest groups represented in the area. Many Cherokees did marry Anglo European settlers during the 18 th century, creating a mixed race ruling class within Cherokee society (Young 2002:112 114) It is thus very possible that many families with lengthy roots in Appalachia do have some American Indian heritage. Joe Begley, for example, credited much of his love of the
202 Appalachian environment to his grandmother, who he understood to be of America n Indian heritage (Begley 1999). Problems emerge if individuals claim that certain contemporary cultural practices represent a continuous connection to pre European indigenous culture, or equate the situation of contemporary mountaineers with that of prev ious American Indian regional inhabitants, without recognizing that political events of the past interrupted those indigenous traditions. The Cherokee and other tribes of the Appalachians were forcibly evacuated from outhern U.S. to Oklahoma cost thousands of lives and did great if unquantifiable damage to traditional cultural knowledge of the different peoples (Young 2002:122). Philip Deloria has shown how issues of politics and identity lie behind Euro American Party to New Age movements of the 20 th century, arguing that white Americans in the modern idst the anxiety of urban industrial and 1998:186). There remained a distinct ambiguity in these practices: people at once attempted to elevate American Indians to a status of essential American identity, while at the same time they masked the conflicts and suffering behind contemporary power d ynamics. American Indian activists take prominent roles in the resistance movement to mountaintop removal, but some activists also remain wary of undue cultural appropriation in their own actions. Carol Warren, a leading member of OHVEC, once corrected a rally participant who suggested the forced removal of Appalachians due to mountaintop removal is like the forced removal of Native peoples in the 19 th century. Warren did not believe that such a
203 comparison could accurately be made, revealing, at least on her part, an awareness of the historical damages done to Native peoples of the region (Warren 2009). Warren provides an example of activists carefully negotiating the problematic territory of cultural identity. Issues of American Indian and Scotch Iris h cultural heritage ultimately boil down to the of the group have more in common than the members have with anyone outside the group, that they are oppres sed in the same way, and that therefore they all belong on the same road to of their identities for example, African Americans or Hispanic migrant workers in the U nited States bonding together by shared experiences of identity helps create the communal strength advocated by Judy Bonds and others, is an example of this ty pe of perspective. Theoretically, hillbillies share experiences of intolerance that can help bond them together into a strong identity, working toward the common end of cultural preservation. As activists and scholars from different justice movements hav e found, however, identity politics is a double edged sword. Individuals are lumped together by an intolerant society (whether by race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, etc.). The struggle for these groups becomes accepting that identity while at the same time avoiding stereotypical portrayals from those outside of the group. Activists likewise sometimes fall into their own forms of exclusivism resident, what does that say about the perspectives of newcomers to the region, or of groups not often counted within the hillbilly stereotype such as Jews or African Americans? History shows that instead, Appalachian culture has been created over many generations through diverse inputs.
204 Conclusion Opponents and supporters of mountaintop removal deploy many different arguments in support of their position. Behind each of these arguments lie certain value assumptions whether that the earth is merely a product to be made better by human interventions, or that protecting ecological resilience is a criterion for social justice, for example. It is not just material conditions that are debated in mountaintop removal discourse, but underlying value systems as well. Se cular values concerning human/nature relationships and identity are not the only forms articulated in the anti mountaintop removal movement, however. The next chapters examine multiple religious values of resistance, focusing on how they make up distinct currents within the wider anti mountaintop removal stream. Figure 5 1. Shopping center and parking lot on former mountaintop removal land. Note the remaining highwall in the background. Photo by author, July 12, 2009.
205 Figure 5 2. A Massey Energy supporter holds a sign in counter protest at a rally at Marsh Fork Mountain Justice Summer. Photo by author, June 23, 2009. Figure 5 resenting radical outsider activists coming to fight mountaintop removal. The Beehive Design Collective, no copyright.
206 F igure 5 4. Musicians and dancers performing at a rally organized by United Mountain Defense against the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville, Tennessee, July 26, 2009. Note the Psalms quote on the sign in the bottom right corner. Photo by author. Figure 5 School, Sundial, West Virginia, June 23, 2009. N ote the miners and counter protestors in the background. Some miners blew air horns during the songs, others or.
207 Figure 5 industrial Appalachia. Note the story telling bear and basket weaving foxes. The Beehive Design Collective, no copyright.
208 CHAPTER 6 RELIGIOUS RESPONSES TO MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL, PART I: CHR ISTIAN ACTIVISM In 2006, Public Broadcasting Stations around the nation aired the Bill Moyers documentary, Is God Green? Toward the end of the George W. Bush presidency, which had been analyzed by many as a new pinnacle of evangelical politicization in the United States, According to Moyers, increasing numbers of evangelicals were considering the severity of environmental issues, representing a novel change in the U.S. political climate. Significantly, Is God Green? featured Judy Bonds and Allen Johnson, both of whom were involved in opposition to mountaintop removal in Appalachia, as examples of modern evangelical environmentalism. The opening of t he documentary featured a short clip of Judy Bonds speaking at a 2005 rally at Marsh Fork Elementary School. Speaking into a megaphone, Bonds announced, his is a battle between good and evil and now is a time to stand up and be counted for. The earth is God's body! the liberal ecotheology of Sallie McFague (1993), was truly surprising. The short quote set the to surprising things and maybe they are becoming more like liberal Christians. However, Tricia Shapiro, in her study of activism in and, amen, it belongs e Biblical foundation for her beliefs and articulated a clear stewardship view of creation. In other
209 an evangelical, actually fit within comfortable evangelical foci. The religious backgrounds of activists such as Judy Bonds and Allen Johnson have things are unique in the Appalachian context, and older assumptions about environmental the Pacific Northwest are not entirely appropriate. Religious resistance to mountaint op removal is far more complex than focusing only on evangelicals would reveal, however, as activists come from diverse religious backgrounds and their interactions produce new understandings among activists about differing religious perspectives on human/ environment interactions. This chapter focuses on two major types of Christians who have become involved with mountaintop removal groups and some local, indepen dent churches. The first category includes liberal denominations such as Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and some Methodists as well as some religious governing bodies such as the West Virginia Council of Churches and the Catholic Committee of Appalachia. Although scholars draw the distinction between Catholic and mainline Protestant groups, since those denominations have distinct theological and social histories in the United States, I will treat them together in the case of Appalachia since mainline Prot estants and Catholics have more in common than they do with independent, evangelical churches which are often non denominational. Indeed, since the emergence of the War on Poverty in the 1960s, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Commission on Re ligion in Appalachia, Catholic and Protestant leaders have worked closely on social and environmental problems. Father John Rausch, a Catholic priest who has lived and
210 m while differences between Protestants and Catholics remain important, since they tend to work closely with one another on the issue of mountaintop removal, I will treat them together. lly focused Christian groups such as Restoring Eden. In his edited survey of Christianity in Appalachia, Bill Leonard outlined four specific articulations of Christianity in Appalachia: mainline, evangelical, Pentecostal, and mountain churches (1999b:xxi) each of these different groups is technically evangelical (following the definition of Noll 1994:8); ( 2) while evangelicals make up a significant population of Appalachian Christians, in my research they are not more represented than mainline Christian activists among mountaintop removal opponents; and finally (3), I have not personally encountered a pract icing Pentecostal anti mountaintop removal activists (though I have encountered one individual who spoke in favor of mountaintop removal from that perspective and I have met activists who had abandoned their Pentecostal upbringings). In this chapter I ana lyze the differing ways these groups have interacted around the issue of mountaintop removal, including points of creative hybridity as well as points of tension. While the chapter proposes and follows basic religious categorizations, it also works to bre ak down barriers between them and to show how, on the ground, religious values infuse anti mountaintop removal activism in sometimes subtle and even contradictory ways. Given the
211 t any sweeping social changes such as those proposed by anti mountaintop removal activists can succeed without the approval of local Christians. Whether and if so how activists of diverse backgrounds can forge those alliances and convince others who do no t yet hold an anti mountaintop removal position remains to be seen. Mainline Christian Activism In 1996, sociologist of religion Laurel Kearns identified three major sets of n stewardship drawn to these approaches interacted with and influenced one another, Kearns found that evangelical Christians tended to promote stewardship e thics, mainline Christians promoted eco justice ethics, and liberal Christians promoted creation spirituality (by which Kearns primarily meant the works of Thomas Berry or Matthew Fox [1996:56, 61]). This creation spirituality perspective is demonstrably present among religious groups across the nation. In her study of visible theoretical influence on the green sisters movement has come from the work of the Passi At Home in the Web of Life however, contained a footnote with references to the works of the creation theology of Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, and John Cobb, but the letter did not reference these scholars in its main text (CCA 2007:111, fn. 55). elsewhere among anti mountaintop removal activists in Appalachia, it is subtle and is not present enough to deserve its own treatment in this specific context.
212 the basic motivations and differences between mainlin e and evangelical activists in the region. Kearns defined the eco perspectives on justice issues such as the just sharing of limited resources and the real cost of environmental problems. It thus combines an already present Christian social justice framework with environmental concerns particularly those that center on the effects of environmental that fit under the mainline denominations category (primarily Episcopalians and Catholics), the issue of eco justice was most prominent. While such categorizations cannot apply universally, many of my mainline interview subjects had direct experience wit h social justice activism, they spoke of mountaintop removal as a continuation of oppressive and unjust policies toward the poor in North America, and they cited the model of Jesus as a social revolutionary as particularly influential for their work. For these activists, the Biblical mandate to protect and serve the poor is interconnected with the mandate to be good stewards of the earth; and for many, this inspiration is tied to other previous work on civil rights and economic justice throughout the world thus tying the anti mountaintop removal movement to much longer activist histories. Catholic and Episcopalian anti poverty workers have been active in Appalachia since the emergence of the War on Poverty in the 1960s, and sometimes earlier in the case in Appalachia (CORA) formed in 1965 as an ecumenical Christian organization focused on inherent in the economic, social, the basic purpose is to engage the
213 resources of the Church and other agencies in activities designed to meet the pressing human needs of the people of Appalachia. The goals are to build community and to combat poverty in Appalachia and through joint action in this twin mi ssion, to help renew the church (1981 CORA pamphlet Appalachian Alliance Records, Box 4, Folder 15). By 1996, CORA included nineteen different regional denominations, and its work focused on the structures of poverty in Appalachia, funding research (such as Couto 1994) and providing organizing tools for local communities (Sessions 1999). Initially focused on issues of poverty, education, and health, CORA later expanded to a critique of economic globalization and related social injustices (CORA 2005). CORA disbanded in 2006 and so does not presently infl uence anti mountaintop removal policies. The organization nonetheless represented a first step in mainline Christian justice activism in the region, and some of its constituent members have continued to work on environmental justice issues in Appalachia. Beyond the work of CORA, one of the first religious statements connecting Appalachian poverty to coal practices was This Land is Home to Me a pastoral letter signed by twenty five Appalachian Catholic bishops. It was first published in 1975 and distri buted widely by the Catholic Committee of Appalachia, which formed in 1970 (CCA 2007). The subject of the letter generally followed post Vatican II Catholic social teachings, focusing on the conditions of the poor as well as unrepresented industrial labor Catholic duties to the poor, following the model of Jesus, involved helping Appalachians rise above their impover anyone, it has become clear to us that the present economic order does not care for its people. In
214 2007:17). While the 1975 letter emphasized the injustice of poverty, due in large part to the writings of Pope John Paul II, through the 1970s and 80s the Cath olic Church began to address threatened peace and prosperity on the planet ( Gottlieb 2006:89). In 1995, as a celebration of This Land is Home to Me the reg ional bishops and CCA published At Home in the Web of Life a second pastoral letter focusing especially on the new tasks which lie before us, particularly the task of creating or defending what are called poverty and economic exploitation, At Home in the Web of Life specifically tied together social justice and en ecology and social ecology, that is, a sustainable community which embraces humans and all elf a divine the incarnate word like Jesus, and it is not itself God. But all creation is nonetheless a revelation perspective was shared by Carol Warren, a Catholic there are gonna be words of God that our grandchildren are never going to
215 statement and At Home in the Web of Life Finally, before listing severa l proposals for sustainable community development in the the social crisis, that is, the wounding of the poor, and the deep root of the ecological crisis, t hat letters laid out the basic Catholic perspective on environmental problems in Appalachia. Environmental destruction is directly tied to economic suffering and oppression of those in need. This destruction is ultimately rooted in the fallenness of humanity (and so a problem for all and protect the revelations of c reation from destruction. The letter thus placed Appalachian sacramental view of creation challenged her border between the eco justice of mainline Christians and steward ship models of evangelicals. Scholarship on Catholic environmental thought shows that specific visions of environmental and social justice vary around the world. Sarah McFarland Taylor examined one specific group of Catholic activists in North America. Building off of the work of Andrew (2007:45). For Taylor, sacramentalism marked the most prominent point of this imagination, though, like the quote in At Home in the Web of Life cited above, many Catholics remained skeptical of claims connecting sacredness to nature itself (2007:46 50). Taylor noted that many of the green sisters in he r study first entered environmental issues through earlier work on
216 poverty and social justice issues (2007:81), but for many of her interview subjects, these social issues later fell under broader environmental problems and a desire to realign human relati onships with the natural world. In other words, the green sisters generally promoted biocentric orientations toward the world, as advocated by Thomas Berry and other natural theologians, over anthropocentric visions of human/nature relationships that emer ged from social justice oriented perspectives. On the other hand, in her study of intentional communities in Latin America, Anna Peterson found a broader interest in environmental sustainability as part of Catholic efforts to build stronger communities di rected at the greater common good. Peterson human dignity and the common good, not individual profit. This assertion of the social purpose of created goods suggest sustainable agriculture and other activities are not so much ends in themselves methods for living out a biocentric view of the natural world but means to achieve distributive justice people become very wealthy but by how few lack the basic requirements of life, with sp ecial attention to the least well mountaintop removal activists alachian Catholics, seems to fall behind a duty to serve the poor as the central feature of the local environmental perspective. Beyond corporate statements such as those from local bishops, individual Catholic anti mountaintop removal activists share t his primary interest in environmental work as an extension of social justice. One of the most influential among Catholic anti mountaintop removal activists
217 is Father John Rausch, the director of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia. Rausch has worked in Appalachia since 1972 and began his work on poverty with the Glenmary Missioners, of contemporary capitalist society to environmental problems is central. He exp particular ministry is called human economic ministry, which means I try to deal with social found in regard to progressive Latin American Catholics (20 05:110), in his teachings Rausch faith as a countercultural experience. I think everyone has a right to a livelihood, but people do not have a right to amass gre at wealth. People have a right to work in meaningful employment; I 2009). Speaking to Catholic audiences, Rausch recognized the need to frame mountaintop removal are being flooded, the foundations of their homes are being cracked. All th ese things are being Catholic but left the church at a young age, nevert heless expressed affinities for liberation noted he no longer believed in God or approved of the centralized, hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church, Martin Martin 2010).
218 Peterson argued that certain Latin American Catholic and Anabaptist groups emphasize the goal of attaining stable communities, rather than finding individual success (2005:110). Rausch, like many Christian anti mountaintop removal activists in Appalachia, shared this concern for rebuilding suffering communities. In December of 2002, Rausch organized a Prayer for the Mountaintop in E astern Kentucky with a local Bapti st minister, Steve Peake. 120 The event was meant as a way for local Christians to express their concerns through prayer, as well as a means for raising awareness about the problems of mountaintop removal. Peake said of the re, I think a difference can be made. Our Prayer on the hears the Mountain was thus not only a means for local Christians to express their suffering, but an outlet to media who, in 2002, paid little attention to the suffering cause d by mountaintop removal. For those present, however, the service was not merely a media event but reflected a genuine outpouring of concern. Following the prayers and speeches, Rausch distributed wildflower seeds to all participants, hoping they would p lant them on the treeless, reclaimed mine site. To his surprise, almost all participants spent several minutes carefully planting the different seeds around the site. When asked why she took such care in planting the seeds, one elderly woman revealing the importance of community strength among Appalachian Christians (Rausch 2009). 120 The event coincided with National Human Rights Day. According to Rausch, this was not an accident, since human justice was a central feature of mountaintop removal. Mallory McDuff also provided an account of a similar 148).
219 Of course, emphasizing issues of social and economic justice does not mean that Catholic acti vists in Appalachia understand mountaintop removal and environmental devastation as purely economic issues. Mystical connections with the natural world, sometimes extending beyond the teachings of the Catholic Church, remain important. When teaching abou t mountaintop removal, Father Rausch almost always framed the issue along anthropocentric, social justice lines. However, in his own spiritual practice, Rausch noted that nature had more than utilitarian value. He conducts his morning prayers, whenever p of just ap r Rausch, this mystical connection to the natural world was as significant as his concern for the poor. It beings, God delighted in creating everything, from ea rthworms to rocks, and also human 2009). Seeing deeper spiritual meaning in the natural world is part of a mystical practice, for Rausch. Carol Warren likewise exp ressed spiritual connections with the natural world. believ l connections to the living
220 world are significant. In the Catholic tradition, spiritual connections to the natural world often follow the model of St. Francis of Assisi (Peterson 2005:80). 121 Warren cited Francis as an influential model for her own perspec everything that was out there showed the glory of God. That to me is the appropriate Buddhist teachings and practices as well, though they serve as supplements to her Catholic beliefs. As individuals, Catholics like Rausch and Warren balance their concerns with social justice and mountaintop removal with deeper, personal connections to the natural world. Appre ciating nature and valuing it for itself becomes a kind of spiritual practice. A central feature of local Catholic teachings on environmental issues, the mandate to protect the environment as an extension of social justice is present among mainline Protest ant anti mountaintop removal activists in Appalachia as well. Rebekah Epling, a young Presbyterian j A lot of social justice generally drives local Christians to involve themselves in opposition to mountaintop removal. Throughout the coalfields, Episcopal Church leaders have been deeply engaged in social justice and the fight against mountaintop removal as well, including Reverend Jim Lewis an d the West Virginia author Denise Giardina (Figure 6 1). The North American Episcopal Church has 121 (1967: environment tlieb 2006:
221 long been one of the most socially liberal denominations in the United States, but local conflicts still emerge over coal policies in Appalachia. Jim Lewis w as ordained in the ministry in 1964 and served throughout West Virginia since the 1970s. His work against the second Iraq War, mountaintop removal, and on other issues led to some controversy among local Episcopal clergy (Staff 2010), but in the summer of 2010 he was still deeply engaged in coalfield communities. Lewis was a featured speaker at the large rally at Marsh Fork Elementary School on June 23, 2009. There, he cited the nonviolent work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights workers as models for that days protest. 122 I interviewed Lewis shortly after the rally and asked specifically about his views on mountaintop removal and social justice. Lewis came to his social to deal with people who are poor, broken, down, out, washed out, flooded out, crippled. And not just to bring them people of Charleston and other areas of Appal achia unemployed miners suffering from black lung, unemployed veterans, drug addicts, people pushed out of their homes by mine related flooding helped Lewis realize that solving their problems required changing broader systems of oppression. These were no the protest against mountaintop removal because of his commitment to justice for the poor and suffering. Denise Giardina likewise came to her position on the issue of mountaintop removal through her social justice work in Appalachia. Raised in a coal camp in McDowell County, West Virginia, by an Italian immigrant father and Kentucky born mot her, Giardina first 122
222 between the ideals of patriotism and faith expressed through the media and church, and the realities of poverty, suffering, and exploitation in the coal fields. Raised politically conservative, Giardina turned to local activism following the shocks of the Kent State shootings in 1970 (when National Guard troops fired on and killed four college students during a Vietnam War protest at Kent State U niversity) and the 1972 disastrous flood on Buffalo Creek. In 1974, Giardina met Jim Lewis and was further inspired to work on justice in the region. Though raised in the Methodist church of her coal camp (a typical camp church, sponsored by the coal com pany and attended by a lay preacher), Giardina was greatly influenced by Episcopalian thought and was ordained as a deacon in 1979. Since that time, Giardina has also been a successful author of historical fiction, including two works on coal camp life an d the community damage caused by coal companies, Storming Heaven (1987) and The Unquiet Earth (1992). She worked with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth on broad form deed reform through the 1980s, and in the year 2000, Giardina helped create the Mountain P arty in West Virginia and unsuccessfully ran and social reform in West Virginia. Theologically, Giardina believes that the mountains themselves are special in t she noted (Giardina 2009). For Giardina, echoing the geological history of the region, the Appa lachians were among the first mountains created by God, and despite the damages done by other mainline activists, Giardina combined a concern for social justice wit h a belief that the
223 natural ecosystems of Appalachia reflect the goodness of God and Christians have a duty to protect them. Roy Crist, an Episcopal priest from Ansted, West Virginia, took a different approach to mountaintop removal from Lewis and Giar dina. Crist was born and raised in Ansted, leaving only to serve for eight years with the U.S. Air Force. In 2002, a coal company applied for a permit to begin a mountaintop mine on nearby Gauley Mountain. Some community members were concerned about thi s permit, since it included an allowance for coal trucks to run through the center of town every five minutes, 24 hours a day. The outlet to the mine, where the coal trucks would exit, also sat near a school, and any accident could easily threaten the chi ldren. In response, Crist and others organized the Ansted Historic Preservation Council to challenge the Christians also organized three Blessing of the Mo untains events on or near Gauley Mountain. These events drew between 50 and 80 participants each (and on two occasions, counter protestors from the local mine company), and were primarily aimed at raising awareness about the local problem. Theologically, Crist advocated a stewardship perspective in his opposition to ri Rausch, Crist ultimately entered his work against mountaintop remov al in direct response to threats to his community. He agreed that destroying mountains removed an essential, God given heritage, and community justice issues remained highly important for him.
224 For Kearns, a central source of mainline eco justice though t is liberation theology (1996:56). For Catholic and Episcopalian activists in Appalachia, this is certainly true. In his influential text A Theology of Liberation Gustavo Gutierrez defined the issue simply, saying, to reflect on the experience and meaning of the faith based and other liberation theologians hoped to elevate the poor and oppressed throughout the world and b uild stronger communities based on Christian equality. Given the emphasis placed upon economic justice and intolerance in Appalachia, it is easy to see why this field of thought has been influential to many mainline activists. Carol Warren cited Oscar Ro mero, the Catholic bishop who was murdered for speaking out against the repressive government in El Salvador, as a personal influence primarily because he changed his position on church and politics after witnessing the violence done toward ordinary Salvad orans by their government. For Warren, this ability to change to a controversial position based on faith convictions was particularly inspiring (Warren 2009). Jim Lewis likewise expressed affinities for liberation theologians (though he remained wary bec ause liberation theology had been influenced by Marxist thought and some liberation theologians had supported Marxist governments), and especially the 123 in the face of intimidation and corruption, is needed for the anti mountaintop removal movement. 123 The term originates from Quaker social thought and a 1955 document entitled Speak T ruth to Power: A Quaker Search for an Alternative to Violence (AFSC). It has since been widely adopted by social justice activists as an apt term for the act of resisting dominant forces of social oppression and violence.
225 Besides individuals like R ausch, Lewis, Giardina, and others, several mainline Christian organizations and activist groups have taken stances against mountaintop removal. Following foundations laid by CORA and CCA, several national denominations released official statements opposi ng mountaintop removal mining. These included the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the Religious Society of Friends. 124 Fol lowing these national letters, a significant moment in local mainstream Christian resistance to mountaintop removal came in 2007, when the West Virginia Council of Churches (WVCC) issued its The WVCC represents several major denominations through West Virginia, including Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Greek Orthodox, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The Council focused mainly on economic and health issues through the twentieth century, advocating political chang es based on consensus Christian perspectives. In the 2000s, though, council members began organizing a general statement on mountaintop removal an unprecedented move for any Appalachian religious governing body. The draft ing process included meetings and presentations with numerous people involved with Appalachian coal, including a visit to and a presentation from Bill Raney, the chairman of the West Virginia Coal Association. In September of 2007, the Council released its official statement (WVCC 2007). The statement began by establishing the basic Christian duty to care for the safeguard and care deeply for what God has created, we can not stand by while our mountains ar e 1). Theologically, the statement proposed (like earlier Catholic 124 These statements are all availa ble online at http://www.ilovemountains.org/resolutions (accessed May 6, 2011 )
226 pastoral letters), that creation itself was a revelation from God. revelation of God, brought for the wonders of Creation, we observe and learn about the beauty and marvelous attention to the smallest details there is something special abou t the closeness many feel to God when contemplating such 1). The statement went on to list numerous environmental, economic, and social damages from mountaintop removal. Rather than condemning the practice, though, the statement ulti mately took a position in the middle ground: e strongly renew that call for enforcement, believing that if the law is fully enforced, the terrible damage of large sca (WVCC 2007: 1). In other words, the statement advocate d for increased regulation rather than a total ban on strip mining though it clearly stated that continued deep mining could provide more necessary jobs in the region. This perspective was also expressed by Roy Crist, who said, low the law, then they would not get as much grief over mountaintop removal as they do. Although I think it ought to be stopped because it is destroying the stances on mountaintop removal than others among their mainline counterparts. According to Reverend Dennis Sparks, the Executive Director of the WVCC at the time coal forces for their work. The UMWA ultimately refused to either support or decry the statement, and other mine officials bristled at the accusation that laws we re not being followed by mountaintop removal companies. Because the statement only called for increased oversight on the current laws, though, pro
227 mediators between the different voices in the region, be a (Sparks 20 09). By taking such a middle ground perspective, the WVCC differentiated itself from outspoken individual opponents of mountaintop removal such as John Rausch and Jim Lewis. 125 Nonetheless, its statement represented an important step in opening the regiona l discussion of religious resistance to mountaintop removal. It was no longer radical individuals challenging mountaintop removal from religious perspectives, but even the moderate governing religious bodies themselves. Institutional statements such as t like mountaintop removal, but questions remain about how these issues translate to specif ic audiences. H ow do individuals experience the official statements of institutional bodies? Religious studies among lay practitioners, often differ from official teachings. For example, Orsi (1997) pointed to the practice of certain New York City Catholics using holy water to bless the ir cars a practice not officially sanctioned by the church. This disconnection between institutional doctrine and local practice can likewise apply to environmental issues. I n his study of Anglican environmental teachings, Michael DeLashmutt found that o fficial Anglican teachings regarding environmental issues failed to reach local churches. The Anglican Church statements advocating environmental sustainability failed to change the practices of indi vidual Anglicans around England and most were even unawa i 125
228 and the theologies and represent a crucial problem that impinges upon a express its newly Similar tensions between official church institutions and individuals working on the ground are evident in the Appalachian context. Bob Marshall, a co founder of Christi ans for the Mountains, removal for the people there, and then it never gets into the pews. So the problem is, the priests, these di fferent values to be appreciated. Sometimes, political and economic connections among churches institute barriers between official statements and individual preaching. According to Roy Crist, Episcopalians in West Virginia are uniquely implicated in coal industry practices. He said, the Episcopal Church in West Virginia was actually, historically, started by coal mine owners. Only the owners and their representatives, the fire bosses and so forth, attended the Episcopal Church. And the coal miners the mselves either went to the Baptist church or the Methodist church. So the Episcopal Church has a Because the Episcopal Ch urch is historically connected to coal mine owners, priests like Crist in my own denomination with mountaintop removal than I do with different denominations (Crist 2009). On a few occasions, other Episcopal priests have challenged Crist in private on his opposition to mountaintop removal, but he remains firm that he is not opposed to mining, just mountaintop removal. The financial connections between churc h institutions and the mining industry sometimes pose conflicts of interest to people like Crist. After beginning his work
229 against the Gauley Mountain mine, Crist grew more aware that a significant source of funding eal, which fed thousands of poor families in his county, came through donations from Massey Energy. Continuing to accept this money posed a moral dilemma for Crist, but he ultimately decided to continue since the money went to feed the poor, and therefore served a higher end. Such financial complexities, though, present themselves to institutional religious groups, whereas independent churches or religiously motivated individuals may avoid them. Along with institutional complexities, individual religi ous leaders face challenges when speaking out against the practice because many members of local churches support mountaintop removal, sometimes because they are related to somebody who earns their living from coal. Lewis, Giardina, Crist, and Rausch all noted that they rarely, if ever, speak specifically about mountaintop removal from the pulpit, and each admitted to having been criticized directly by parishioners or having participants walk out during services that in some way criticized coal. Crist sai mountaintop removal or coal mining, and I will not. But everybody knows how I feel and we tholic church When I noted this to Rausch later, he replied that once a person walked out during his sermon on environmental issues, but given the presence of pr o coal parishioners, he generally preferred to environmental advocacy occurs largely outside of the church setting. This raises questions about just how involved Appalachian churches can be in opposing mountaintop removal and what roles they have in the movement. Because of these complexities, some local activists remain critical
230 of local churches for their complicity in supporting coal industry practices. Churc h leaders and institutions face pressure from certain constituents to advocate for an anti mountaintop removal stance, yet at the same time they do not want to alienate other parishioners or potential church members. For this reason, it appears that most of the constructive Christian work against mountaintop removal is being led by courageous individuals like Giardina, Rausch, Lewis, and Crist who sometimes jeopardize their standing with the church to speak about the issue, while church institutions retain more moderate positions. Mainline Christians are not the only Christians impacted by mountaintop removal in Appalachia, however, and sometimes challenges emerge in crossing perceived boundaries between mainline and evangelical churches. Toward that end individuals like Rausch, Lewis, and others have attempted to break down those barriers and include local evangelical Christians in decision making church -ch -Indian food, and learn some language, and move among the people, but they find it hard to go the educa construct barriers to cooperation among individuals on the ground. The experiences of activists in Appalachia show that, while generalizations are accurate in places, community progress is made when individuals can cross ideological boundar ies and coope rate While categorizing different religious approach es to mountaintop removal is helpful, such categories inevitably break down on the ground. Individuals are free to creatively adapt
231 their religious visions In her study of Latin American Anabaptist a nd Catholic communities, Anna Peterson stated the necessity of attending to regional specificities well. These customs, with coreligionists in other times and pla ces, at the same time that their religious lives are shaped by their own regional and national as well as personal histories, cultures, and 110). Likewise, mainline Protestant and Catholic individuals and organizations in Appala chia share essential features with their national counterparts, while at the same time they cross denominational boundaries, interact with, and learn from members of other groups. Like mainline Christians, evangelicals in Appalachia express religious reas ons for opposing mountaintop removal that intersect with other local groups. Evangelical Christian Activism In the summer of 2010 I visited a family in Boone County, West Virginia, who had recently won a court battle protecting their ancestral home from invasion by a nearby mountaintop removal mine. Talking on their porch for a few hours, one woman told me about how her friends from her Baptist church helped the family in their efforts. When I asked if the minister ever spoke about mountaintop remo val in services, I was met with a quizzical look. evangelicals towa rd environmental issues, especially mountaintop removal. Some evangelicals have fought against mountaintop removal and worked to preserve their homes and communities from pollution and other damages associated with surface mining. Evangelical churches, h owever, following a long tradition of social disengagement, have remained relatively uninvolved in the iss ue. As prominent historian of S outhern religion Samuel S. Hill explained, y it is to be directly
232 involved in public politics. Those churches without affiliation are highly unlikely to engage, as churches, or even as individual members, in political causes, rallies, voting campaigns, an d 144 ). To speak of evange lical environmentalism in Appalachia, then, is to wrestle with this local ambivalence and history of disengagement. The few studies on evangelical environmentalism in Appalachia have also found such ambivalence. In a 2003 study of faith based environm ental initiatives in Appalachia, the authors limited to mainline churches that happen to operate in the region, while the charismatic Appalachian churches we f ound play a more marginal role. In fact, we failed to find any 2003:231). By 2011, however, conditions in the region had slightly changed. Looking at individuals, r ather than churches, along with the national evangelical creation care movement, Billings and Samson pointed to a long history of activism against the coal industry among evangelicals in Appalachia, dating back to the early days of unionization and moving through the early resistance to surface mining (Billings and Samson forthcoming 2011: 5 6 ). Unlike mainline denominations (represented by the WVCC, for example), few evangelical churches or governing bodies (where they exist) have taken positions against m ountaintop removal. Some evangelical individuals, however, like Judy Bonds, Allen Johnson, and the family members I met in Boone County, have committed themselves to environmental reform, motivated in large part by their religious convictions and personal connections to environmental devastation caused by entails is needed.
233 T used but frequently misunderstood term (see Chapter 3). In the 21 st century United States, the term is often synonymous in the public mind with conservative political voters, supporters of the George W. Bush presid ency, and mega church attendees. This politicization of evangelicals follows historical precedents from anti intellectual fundamentalists of the early 20 th century, staunch anti communists of the Cold War era, and televangelists of the 1980s (Pierard 1984 ). Evangelicals participate in large, structured organizations such as the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as disconnected, independent churches, such as those in Appalachia. Though self styled spokespersons appear on occasion, this large body of ci tizens (according to a 2008 Pew Forum survey, 26.3% of all adult Americans described themselves as evangelical Christians) 126 seems poorly understood by non evangelical commentators. Given the assumption that all evangelicals ascribe whole heartedly to the policies of George W. Bush or Tea Party politicians, it is easy to understand why more liberal commentators like Bill Moyers, with Is God Green? seem surprised when different evangelical individuals and congregations turn toward promoting environmental su stainability. Because of such seemingly disparate practices and beliefs, non evangelicals are generally left frustrated when attempting to account for a basic evangelical worldview. Ambiguity, though, is a core feature of North American evangelicalism. Mark Noll expressed this point deftly, arguing that lengthened shadows of individuals. All discussions of evangelicalism, therefore, are always both descriptions of the way things really are as well as efforts within our own minds to provide some ism, Noll argued 126 Available online : http://religions.pewforum.org/affiliations (accessed May 10, 2011). Catholics were the second largest group, making up 23.9% of the adult population.
234 that evangelicals generally share views of life changing religious experience), biblicism (a reliance on the Bible as ultimate religious authority), activism (a concern for sharing the redeeming work activists involved in fighting mountaintop removal, but individual perspectives beyond this are more diverse. To truly u nderstand evangelical anti mountaintop removal activism, then, observers need to set aside assumptions based upon and generalized, national evangelical movement and appreciate the ambiguities, hybridity, and creativity revealed through individual practice. Because of this vagueness inherent in the term, it is necessary to be clear about which evangelicals are involved in anti mountaintop removal activism in Appalachia. The majority of evangelical respondents for this project come from local, independent Appalachian churches National groups are also represented in the movement, but mainly through their activities with evangelical environmental groups such as Restoring Ed en or Christians for the Mountains (a local group that encourages volunteers from around the country). Participants from national groups tend to see their activism as a continuation of their religious work to care for creation, while local activists are m ore likely to have entered the movement in response to direct threats to their homes, families, or communities from mountaintop removal. Despite differences in how they arrived at their work, most evangelical anti mountaintop removal activists with whom I spoke emphasized the concept of creation care, a perspective which they believe sits on sold values of nature, creation care advocates emphasize the heightened role of humans in preserving
235 the natural world. Clearly, evangelical activists in Appalachia do not represent all evangelicals, and the differences between distinct groups (such as between local, independent Holiness churches and members of the Southern Baptist Convention) remain important. Evangelical creation care perspectives emerged in part from older Christian arguments regarding environmental stewardship (Kearns 1996:58 60; Glacken 1967). Stewardship proponents reimagined commanded humans to 1:28). In some in stances this passage was given what e nvironmental philosopher J. Baird given right to exploit nature 15). Alternatively, proponents of stewardship a rgue d not only special rights and privileges on human beings but also special duties and res 16). Among some mainline Appalachian anti mountaintop removal activists, this respon sibility entails keeping the natural world in a state they believe God would prefer (generally a natural state, or creation as it existed before extensive human destruction). Carol Warren, the long time Catholic activist from West Virginia exemplified thi s perspective when she said, perspective, we are to treat creation as God would treat it. That to me is what dominion means, not that we have a right to use everything any way that we want to. But that concept to me mea the way God would care for his own garden, and in Genesis 2:15, God put humanity in the
236 Creation care advocates offered similar interpretations of Genesis as well. The creation ca re movement (as distinct from broader Christian discussions of stewardship ethics), emerged in large part through the work of University of Wisconsin zoologist Calvin DeWitt. In 1979, DeWitt helped found the Au Sable Institute in Michigan, promoting biodi versity conservation along the lines of Christian stewardship ( McKibben 2006 ). In his writings, DeWitt argued against the Biblical notion of dominion as complete domination, given responsibility for all pe 1998: 43 ). Mistaken Christian views toward nature and human dominion he argued, derive from a dissociation of God the creator of the world from God the redeemer of the world. When these aspects are reconnected, DeWitt believes, it becomes c pres erving the earth (1998: 58 59). Creation care thinkers place full ownership of creation in the (2000:294). At the sa me time, dominion still implies an elevated position for humanity. As is our dependency on everything under us. Cut the root out from under a plant and the fruit as they see fit, humans still retain an exceptional place in the natural world in this perspective (Peterson 2001), and this forms an important philosophi cal difference between those who advocate biocentric environmental ethics and anthropocentric oriented creation care advocates. Beyond theological concerns and Biblical interpretations, however, creation care entails engaging in and redeeming the world (Ke movement needed new leadership, and that leadership had to be motivated by moral convictions.
237 I am convinced that when the church becomes fully engaged in the problems of creation care, we will overcome s position, Sleeth continued, (2006:24). A number of groups have emerged to promote this social vision of creation care, including the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN). A small organization focused mainly on spreading information about creation care, the EEN formed in 1993 and published Creation Care a regular magazine providing Christian perspectives on envir onmental issues (Larsen 2005). 127 A second influential national group is Restoring Eden, which emerged out of Christians for Environmental Stewardship in 2001. Restoring Eden and its preceding organization were founded by Peter Illyn, a Pentecostal pastor from the Pacific Northwest. Illyn turned to creation care in the 1990s after he perceived tension between national evangelical resource policies, which promoted reduced environmental regulations and increased exploitation, and his own feelings that the na tural world should be protected. In 1990, Illyn experienced a profound moment of spiritual crisis when, on a multi month trek along the Pacific Crest Trail, he came across a clear cut in an old growth tree stand. Upon witnessing the devastation, Illyn re God, why would You allow this to Happen? And then I asked, Who will speak for the ancient forests, Lord? Who will speak for the elk? (quoted in Ross 2011:84, italics in original). Working with a small permanent staff, Restorin g Eden continues to spread information about creation care and support Christian student involvement in environmental advocacy, offering tours for Christian college students to Appalachia to visit communities impacted by mountaintop removal. 128 127 See http://creat ioncare.org/ (accessed May 11, 2011). 128 See http://restoringeden.org/about/history (accessed May 11, 2011). Lucas Johnston provided an excellent history and analysis of the creation care movement in
238 In Appala chia, the Lindquist Environmental Appalachian Fellowship (LEAF) works on spreading the message of creation care. LEAF was formed in 2005 by members of the Church of the Savior (connected with the United Church of Christ) in Knoxville, Tennessee in honor o f fellow environmentally conscious parishioner Cathy Lindquist. 129 Besides its legislative work cording to Volunteer contributed materials for their use (Chastain 2009). A second group in Appalachia, also formed in 2005, is Christians for the Mountains. Like LEA F, Christians for the Mountains is not expressly an evangelical organization, though because of its co founder Allen Johnson and some other members, it is sometimes held up as an example of evangelical environmental concern (Billings and Samson 2011; Moyer s 2006). Christians for the Mountains formed out of meetings held in 2005 by several long term Christian activists from West Virginia and Kentucky, including Allen Johnson, who had already been very active in Christian environmental groups such as Opening the Book of Nature and the Religious Campaign for Forest Conservation. Participants at the organizational meeting decided to frame their organization as specifically Christian because they felt the need to speak from a specific standpoint, to speak speci fically to creation care package. Christians for the Mountains produce d a DVD entitled Mountain Mourning featuring the work of Larry Gibson and Maria Gunnoe. In subsequent years, the group raised sufficient funds to organize a volunteer house in Ansted, West Virginia, staffed by 129 See http://www.tnleaf.org/ (accessed May 11, 2011).
239 Sage Russo, 130 a local evangelical and activis t who had been involved in organizing Mountain Justice Summer (Johnson 2009; Marshall 2009; Russo 2009). Together, LEAF and Christians for the Mountains represent the most visible grassroots Appalachian groups promoting a creation care perspective. En vironmentally conscious evangelical groups and individuals have received significant attention from the mainstream media. Newsweek published a short article on Allen Johnson and Christians for the Mountains in August 2005, for example, only three months after the group formed (Gates and Juarez 2005). According to Johnson, the general attitude among the media and liberal groups was that evangelical environmentalism did not fit the dichotomies drawn Evangelical churches (unlike liberal and mainline churches) are not heavily involved in the movement against mountaintop removal, but evangelical individuals such as Allen Johnson, Judy Bonds, and Sage Russo have taken positions of leadership in the moveme nt. Although they come from different backgrounds, many evangelicals who resist mountaintop removal share similarities in perspective. As explained by DeWitt and Sleeth, caring for creation is fundamentally religious work for Johnson, Bonds, and Russo, ba sed on what they take to be clear Biblical precedents and the living model of Jesus. Some, like Johnson and Bonds, argue that their work is less meant to save the earth than to celebrate the church (and even in some instances, convert others to the Christ ian message). While some evangelicals unapologetically promote anthropocentric views of human relationships to the rest of nature, others in the Appalachian anti mountaintop removal lled a theocentric 130 Sage sometimes goes by slightly different names, including Sage Vekasi Philips, but in this dissertation I will present his name as was agreed in our 2009 interview.
240 perspective). Johnson, Bonds, Russo, and other Appalachian evangelical environmental activists cooperate and share perspectives with non evangelical groups. tes of creation care must cite Biblical authority to back their environmentalist perspectives. Calvin environmental integrity an them) (2005:173 174). Similarly for anti mountaintop removal evangelicals in Appalachia, the Bible and Christian principles form fundamental motivations for their work, and Bible passages make frequent appearances on signs at protests and other anti mountaintop removal literature (see Figures 6 2 and 6 3). A first set of Biblical mandates to care for creation cited by Appalachian evangelical activists comes in Genesis, when God cr eates the world and, at each 2:4). For example, Sage Russo, a volunteer for Christians for the Mountains and long time Mountain Justice activist, said nature was to be it good before we showed up on the scene and gives dominion over living things to the first man and woman, creation care and stewardship advocates argue that this dominion confers responsibility and respect, not simply exploitation. The Psalms likewise hold many passages that Christian environmental activists cite as supporting s, and
241 passage, some believe that God is personally angered or hurt when his property is destroyed. At a public meeting with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, for example, running down His face at what He sees happening to His assage for such environmentally concerned evangelicals, reflecting a more general evangelical concern for the end of days, comes in Revelat uld be cited, but that Biblical foundation is an absolute necessity for Bonds, Johnson, and Russo. a fallen, sinful state, salvageable only through the redeeming power o f the resurrected Christ. Among evangelical creation care advocates, human sin is the root of environmental damage as well. In its 1994 declaration, the Evangelical Environmental Network enumerated several essential beliefs behind creation care, includin g, for men, women and children, but also for the rest of creation which is suffering from the EEN 1994 ). For the EEN, environmental devastation is one of those consequences of sin. In Is God Green? Allen Johnson likewise referred to environmental It is 2006). In a prayer offered before a 2005 rally at Marsh Fork Elementary, Johnson made a
242 2010:103). Though many evangelicals believe all humans are implicated in original sin, some, like Bonds, continue that specific acts like mountaintop removal require extra input from evil motivations like greed (see Figur e 6 4 ). In her statement introducing Is God Green? Bonds his is a battle between good and evil and now is a time to stand up and be counted for inclu ding social inequalities, economic oppression, and political corruption (Johnson 2009). This perspective on the evil of mountaintop removal is also shared by some non evangelicals. In a 2007 editorial in the Charleston Gazette Denise Giardina wrote, will be as blunt as I can be. Mountaintop removal is evil, and those who support it are supporting evil. The mountains of pit in the 2007). Such language is sometimes seen as divisive, but nonetheless it fits within a broader trajectory of evangelical discourse. ion care literature (Peterson 2001:38). Richard Cizik, a former executive for the National Association of Evangelicals, made his view clear to Bill Moyers: contraire, thi s is about p the people Carolina in 2009, Judy Bonds similarly called for concern about impacted human communities,
243 ell, save the baby humans! Come 131 Although they are concerned for the wellbeing of humans, some Christian Appalachian activists cannot be accurately termed anthropocentric. Instead, the ultimate concern is for the interes God. Rather than saving the world as an end in itself, Allen Johnson explained that his purpose Christian ethicist James Gustafson originally advanced a theocentric perspective in his two volume Ethics fro m a Theocentric Perspective (1983, 1992). He later applied this perspective to not necessarily in original). this typical anthropocentric view that God gave us this creation so we can use it for our purposes. Neither the supposed inherent rights of nature nor the flourishing of humans at the expense of the mountaintop removal position. I nstead, for Johnson and Russo, activism entails living out, to the best of their abilities, the will of God for justice, peace, and harmony on earth. 131
244 Attempting to discern the intentions of God and acting upon them thus forms a major motivation for some ev angelical anti mountaintop removal activists. As Judy Bonds explained to Bill Moyers in Is God Green? these mountains do you think God will come down here and blow up? Which one of these hollers 1990s. Following the model of Jesus is a goal for other activists i n Appalachia as well. Allen Johnson said that the (Johnson 2009). For Johnson and Bonds, mountaintop removal is clearly not something God or Jesus would do. Finally, two important characteristics for evangelical thought according to Bebbington to Christianity and the mandate to spread the faith to others. Both of the se characteristics are evident among evangelical anti mountaintop removal activists.. Judy Bonds was raised as a member of a Free Will Baptist Church near her home in West Virginia, but moved away from Christianity as she got older and more focused on wor k and raising a family. The Free Will Baptists, one of the many small Baptist subdenominations in the region, argue that redemption is available to all who believe and practice Christian faith, not simply to the elected few, as some Calvinist based church between working toward salvation and perdition, it is not necessarily preordained (Dorgan
245 1987:38). Though she had moved away from the church in her younger years, the worsening conditi on of her homeland and the health threats to her family led Bonds back to the church. This exercise of free will in seeking out redemption fit within her Christian upbringing. Bonds k burner until something in grew increasingly aware of the destruction surrounding her, she also reflected on the importance in these mountains what I felt as a child, I began to realize that I as close to God in his creation. Not in a building that man made and said this is read the Bible, discovering passages in Genesis and Psalms about the beauty and value of the earth, and she began to believe that caring for creation was indeed a and I knew then So it 62). Bonds had no official theological training, but her experienc es in nature and witnessing the environmental destruction of her home generated a conversion experience where she returned to the most familiar moral language of her youth. Other evangelical activists reported similar conversion experiences. Sage Russo w orked as a radical activist among anarchist communities for many years, but as he grew more aware of local environmental damage (including mountaintop removal), he noted 132 Working on environme ntal issues marked a conversion to a new Christian life for both Bonds and Russo. 132 Russo was speaking to a panel on religion and mountaintop removal at the Annual Meeting of the Appalachian Studie s Association at Marshall University, West Virginia.
246 Some evangelical activists also see their work as subtly influencing non Christians in Appalachia as well. Allen Johnson asserted that evangelical environmentalists such as himself (Johnson 2009). He said that the increasing popularity of evangelical creation care, especially among youth, reveals that the movement answers a need am importance of Christian activists in the movement against mountaintop removal was shared by fellow Christians for the Mountain s founder, Bob Marshall. Talking about radical positive example s of Christian environmentalism could help win secular environmentalists toward the faith. Like Johnson, Bonds believed many young environmentalists sought spiritual depth. Speaking to journalist Tricia Shapiro about young radical environmentalists prese nt in the convert others to Christianity is strong among ardent evan gelicals, but my experiences in the field show that this concern for conversion did not prevent Appalachian evangelical anti mountaintop removal activists for working with other activists who rejected evangelical Christian values. It is clear that evange lical anti mountaintop removal activists in Appalachia exhibit certain characteristics, identifying their work as distinctly evangelical. Many cite approvingly the concept of creation care, particularly as defined by evangelical thinkers such as DeWitt an d Sleeth. Through individual comments, major evangelical themes as described by Bebbington
247 and Noll are also apparent: a strong emphasis upon the Biblical basis for environmentalism, a concern for personal conversion and spreading the faith to others, and a belief that the church (as the body of Christians on earth) should engage with the world, rather than retreat from it and await the apocalypse. However, as Noll (1994) explained, evangelicalism has always been marked by ambiguities and adaptability. P opular portrayals of evangelical environmentalism, such as Is God Green? often assume a consistent evangelical identity and that outsiders immediately understand the nature of that identity. There remain differences among individual evangelical activists in Appalachia that challenge homogenizing characterizations of evangelical environmentalism. For example, after telling a story about speaking to a reporter for a Christian interested in faith based organizations working on these things [environmental issues], but they want to put it and kind of want to show their own story of how th ey can f care and practices, and less a worldview shared consistently among all who describe themselves (or are described) as such. Individuals may at times occupy points that clearly fit within that field such as concern for conversion and Biblicism but at other times move beyond it such as phil osophy. anti mountaintop removal activists. Primarily, some evangelical activists in Appalachia experience exclusion or alienation from evangelical churches for their work. A llen Johnson, who has lived in E astern West Virginia with his wife and family since 1974, said, laughing,
248 hnson 2009). At the time he and his wife attended a non denominational church across the border in Virginia, where he described the general attitude as basically accepting. Fellow congregants knew of their work, but in his perception, they did not necess arily support it. The situation was similar for other evangelical activists, such as Judy Bonds. According to Johnson, Bonds experienced great difficulties in her home community and often found greater fellowship among activists than with other local eva ngelicals. Beyond intergroup difficulties, some activists in Appalachia, while expressing clearly evangelical beliefs regarding creation, express other attitudes about politics and society that come from outside of the evangelical tradition. Both Allen Johnson and Sage Russo, for example, received religious training from Anabaptist traditions. Johnson was raised in Indiana in the Church of the Brethren, one of the Historic Peace Churches emerging from enlightenment era Germany; and Sage Russo, raised in a Presbyterian church by a Methodist mother, attended a Mennonite seminary (Johnson 2009; Russo 2009). 133 Likewise, Bob Marshall, a co founder of Christians for the Mountains, was raised Baptist in West Virginia but later joined the Episcopal Church due to friendly policies (Marshall 2009). In our interview, hat charismatic in that way, but not denominationally bound. I think binding ourselves by denominations hurts us 133 Other Anabaptist groups have become involved in the resistance to mountaintop removal. During the 2010 Appalachia Rising march in Washington, D.C., for example, members of the Earth Quaker Action Team broke away and peacefully occupied a local branch of PNC Bank, at the time a leading funder of mountaintop removal mining.
249 Appalachian e vangelical environmentalists face from other evangelical congregations requires influence Bonds, Johnson, and Russo, but other concerns, braided with their religious v alues, likely influence their continued commitment to environmentalism in spite of broader evangelical skepticism toward anti mountaintop removal activists. The Anabaptist and radical Christian influences are evident in the work of Johnson and Russo, espec ially through their views of the relationship between the church and the state. As Anna Peterson explained, since their emergence in the early Protestant Reformation in Europe estants and 2005:22 23). Johnson and Russo accept the importance of social eng agement, but they share and the importance of mutual aid beyond the powers of the secular state. In a statement that challenges simplistic portrayals of his en struggle h 09). For Johnson, as similarly as a unit, as a people, gath ered to do business in his name 2002:177). When Christians fail to follow Biblical mandates for stewardship and justice, then, they not only harm the world, they harm the integrity of the church. Johnson believed that those Christians who promoted mountaintop removal (even knowing its environmental and social
250 comes down to the green of a dollar bill and the green of a tree, th Johnson contended, have clearly misplaced their religious priorities. For Yoder, the church is a gm and the instrument of the political presence of the mountaintop removal aligns churches with non Biblical politics, with a love of money rather than a love of creati on. For Sage Russo, who began his environmentalist work with North Carolina based anarchist communities, the Anabaptist critique of the secular state was particularly influential. On the morning of July 5, 2009, Russo was asked to offer a prayer ser vice at a gathering of He started by explaining his own connections with anarchist and radical environmental communities and how he understood why young peo ple might criticize Christians and the church. But the true church was not the fat American driving an SUV, deaf to suffering in the world, he continued. The true church was with a mother in Africa praying with her children in secret amidst a raging civi l war, or with farmers of Latin America fighting to preserve their land from government and corporate incursions. The true church was strength for the suffering, and hope for the hopeless. 134 In other words, the true church was radical and opposed to the d ominant, Western capitalist culture. For this reason, the true church was also present in Appalachia, where locals stood against seemingly insurmountable powers to save their communities. For some radical Christians, the body of the church is by definiti on separate from 134
251 embarked upon a mission to Christianize others by force, the two have worked together (Claiborne and Haw 2008:171). 135 According to Sage, the true body of the church remains with those who suffer the oppression of the dominant culture. movement combined anarchist understandings of the state and an emphasis upon p eaceful and loving resistance with mandates for social engagement. The new monastic perspective is explained by Shane Claiborne, author of influential radical Christian books such as Jesus for President (2008) and The Irresistible Revolution (2006). Clai borne offered a radical, anarchistic (2008:25). New monastics like Claiborne at once critique contemporary political parties and powers, but at the same time offer their own Bible based political message, not so much itself as dominant system, though, does not suggest a lack of social engagement. In this call for deeper social engagement, new monasticism diverges significantly from Anabaptist tradition. As Peterson explained, many Anabaptist communities largely withdraw from broader social work, offering aid to the suffering as needed, but gene rally preferring to stay away from national political changes (2005:115 116). Anabaptists like Yoder emphasize the 135 Some Anabaptists likewise critique the state, arguing that Christians work by definition o utside of the realm of secular society. Indeed, as Yoder explained, the true Christian community was dramatically changed when early reformers transitioned from focusing on the community itself to winning other souls and Christianiz ing society itself (Yode r 2002: 103 107).
252 002:35). While the philosophy of passive resistance and nonviolence undergirds much Christian activism in Appalachia, individuals like Russo, Bonds, and others have at times engaged in non violent civil disobedience. For Russo (and the 11 other Christian activists interviewed in depth for this project as well as many of those with whom I conducted informal conversations), the injustice of mountaintop removal demands a God of compassion and justice, love and mercy, and if we just turn around, turn our back and walk 2009). How that action, working for justice and compassion, un folds remains a debatable subject. In their activism, however, Bonds, Johnson, Russo and other advocates of creation care stray from the history of social disengagement marked by so many Appalachian churches. They combine insights and perspectives from o ther traditions with a foundational evangelical worldview to generate unique, individual responses to environmental and social problems around their homes. Conclusion For good reasons it is common to distinguish between theologies of mainline and evangelic al Christians. At the same time, however, mainline and evangelical Christians share perspectives and beliefs, they learn from each other and prove willing to change, while also preserving essential features of their identities. As Christians in Appalachi a get involved in local environmental struggles they also encounter what Bron Taylor termed the global fertilize, and spread. It is a 10:14). Christianity does not provide the only resource for anti mountaintop removal environmentalism in Appalachia. Christian and
253 non Christian activists share beliefs and practices through a braided network as well, and this is most significantly repre sented through forms of nature religion. Figure 6 1. Jim Lewis (left) and Denise Giardina (right) speak at a rally at Marsh Fork Elementary School. Photo by author, June 23, 2009. Figure 6 2. A billboard near Marsh Fork Elementary School. Note the small sign with a passage from Psalms, most likely a reference used in opposition to mountaintop removal. Photo by author, June 23, 2009.
254 Figure 6 3. A protestor holds a sign at a rally at Marsh Fork Elementary School. Photo by author, June 23, 2009. Figure 6 4. A protestor holds a sign at Appalachia Rising march in Washington, D.C. Note the religious references to the devil and evil. Photo by author, September 27, 2010.
255 Figure 6 5. Judy Bonds (left) talks with a local reporter at a rally at Mar sh Fork Elementary School. Photo by author, June 29, 2009. Figure 6 6. Sage Russ o (center) reads from his Bible and prays before a rally against the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville, Tennessee. Photo by author, July 26, 2009.
256 CHAPTER 7 RELIGIOU S RESISTANCE TO MOUN TAINTOP REMOVAL, PAR T II: NATURE RELIGION AND HYBRIDI TY Focusing on the influence of religious values on environmental behaviors, such as resistance to mountaintop removal, it is necessary to look beyond recognized traditions such as Ch ristianity to other forms of religiosity that place value in the biological or spiritual processes mountaintop removal activists in Appalachia. This category encompasses individuals who have affinities with what Theory, and other biocentric ideas. It also includes examples of American Indian religiosity, primarily through the work of Indigeno us activists from across the nation who are involved with anti religi on (McCauley 1995), includes locals who profess naturalistic forms of religiosity based on feelings of belonging to and kinship with the specific landscape of Appalachia. Following the exploration of nature religiosity in Appalachia, the chapter reflects u pon religious resistance against mountaintop removal in general, examining the points of cooperation and conflict among different stakeholders. Evangelical Christians and radical environmentalists work together on common projects, but this does not mean t hey are coalescing into a singular group. Instead, individual identities and distinctions remain important on the ground. Religion holds a somewhat ambiguous place in resistance to mountaintop removal. Some say it is the driving force behind their work, while others cite absolutely no religious beliefs at all (though their commitment to fighting mountaintop removal shows that they nonetheless value Appalachian ecosystems). In still other instances, religious values are used in support of mountaintop rem oval mining. For these reasons, scholars must be aware of their representations
257 Alastair McIntyre, Mark Johnson, and others help understand how religious valu es influence specific religious activists while at the same time acknowledging the important distinctions between individuals and groups. Of course, focusing on Christian resistance in Chapter 6 and nature religion here does not cover the religious values of every participant in anti mountaintop removal protests. Instead, my research focus has been on locals and other activists who have made long term commitments to the issue, and I believe my categorization is sufficiently representative of that communit y. Nature Religion and Environmental Activism Nature religion, in various forms, is widely present among anti mountaintop removal activists in Appalachia. This term was introduced as a religious type by Catherine Albanese in Nature Religion in America (19 90) and significantly revised and expanded upon by Taylor in various publications, including Dark Green Religion (2010) (though Taylor provided a longer history of the concept, tracing it back through early religious studies scholars such as E.B. Tylor and J.G. Frazer and older thinkers such as Spinoza and Rousseau [2010:5 10]). Though Taylor and Albanese disagreed on important points, their works can still be read together to provide an image of nature religiosity. In Nature Religion in America Albane se avoided concrete definitions of nature religion and instead focused on nature religion as a scholarly lens revealing the profound connection s between humans and nature that could be traced through numerous specific instances in American history (1990:15 ) evident through diverse expressions. Nature formed both a concrete and symbolic center fo r American Indians, as well as participants in the macrobiotic spiritual movement, who sought
258 harmony through lifestyle choices between their bodies and the natural world, to give just two of her several examples. Albanese concluded that such diversity ma kes it appropriate to speak of multiple nature religions (1990:1999), but tying all articulations together is the concept of nature, which national identity and American co ncep tions of the sacred (1990:7). In Reconsidering Nature Religion (2002), a published set of lectures given in the year 2000, Albanese provided a slightly more direct orientation (if not definition) to nature religion. Nature is an equalizer all humans must respond to it physically and cognitively. Focusing on nature religion, then, is a way to examine the divers ity of responses to, as she said have no control and bef 24). Th e interesting enterp rise for Albanese, then, became exploring the numerous historical permutations of religious responses to nature. Mastery, harmony, and domination were fundamental concepts that persisted in tension through various forms of nature rel nature religion seemed to encourage the pursuit of harmony, as individuals sought proper attunement of human society to nature and thus mastery over sources of pain and trouble in themselves and ot hers. And yet, nature religion fostered more ambivalent themes of fear and (Albanese 1990:12). Albanese pointed to Thomas Jefferson as one example of the tensions bet ween harmony and mastery in American nature religion. Like some of his 18 th and 19 th century contemporaries, Jefferson found intellectual stimulation in the harmony and beauty of the natural world. Jefferson spoke glowingly of viewing Natural Bridge from a distance, a
259 represented a particularly American conception of the sublime, at once beautiful and terrifying, ture religion meant communion with forces that enlarged the public life of the nation. And with Jefferson and other American patriots e 1990:70). Whether traditions holding nature itself as sacred, or wrestled with the apparent harmony of the natural world and the desire to control other aspects of nature. Bron Taylor, in Dark Green Religion (2010), shared some important similarities to Albanese, primarily the idea that green religion infuses American culture and can be witnessed in efforts to protect or celebrate the earth. Taylor the idea that the natural world itself is worthy of environmentalists surveyed in Chapter 6) (2010:10). D accompanied by feelings of humility and a corresponding critiq ue and reinforced by metaphysics of interconnection and the idea of interdependenc (Taylor 2010:13). Feelings of belonging and connection were very important for dark green religious practitioners, Taylor argued; and frequently, the profound experiences of connection, humility, and kinship with the natural world among individuals led them to dark green philosophies and religions, such as deep ecology (a philosophy positing intrinsic value to all species), Gaia theory (the idea that the earth as a whole is a living being), and other forms, which they found support ed their experiences. Taylor identified four major types of dark green religion, with permeable boundaries between each type.
260 The categories sat on a scale between supernaturalistic and naturalistic (considering whether or not there exists some sort of s piritual plane beyond the natural world as explained by science), and with foci on either individualistic or holistic elements (considering whether individual creatures are considerable [animism] or broader ecosystems, the earth itself, and cosmic processe s deserve consideration [Gaian]) (Taylor 2010:14 16). L ike Albanese, Taylor argued that nature religion is a diverse phenomenon that infuses culture in numerous, sometimes subtle ways. er follows more reverence for natural places. The different forms of dark green religion Taylor has identified can be found among anti mountaintop removal activists, including earth revering ritualization popularized by radical environmentalists, appreciation if not appropriation of Native American religious systems, and naturalistic, science valuable. Besid es these forms is a unique articulation of dark green religion that I call other works on Appalachian mountain religion (Dorgan 1987; Jones 1999a; McCauley 1995), I define Appalachian nature religion as a localized form of nature religion, based in Appalachian cultural history and feelings of connectedness with and responsibility for the ecosystems of Appalachia, that underlies the activities and values of many ant i mountaintop removal activists with long family histories in the region. While scholars have tended to focus on organized religious responses to environmental issues, such as those of Christian groups surveyed in Chapter 6, these different forms of natur e religion also deserve attention for the roles that they play in promoting and sustaining resistance to mountaintop removal mining.
261 Biocentric thought and the specific philosophy of deep ecology often play into dark green green religion is generally deep ecological, biocentric, or ecocentric, considering all species to be intrinsically valuable, that is, value apart from their perspec tive developed by Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess positing intrinsic value to all living things (Taylor and Zimmerman 2005:456). For Naess, this philosophy was practiced through realization, diversity, and symbiosis between living beings. While ecosophy Tvergastein, the mountain on which sat his favorite hut), he believed other individuals could adopt different personal ecosophies that would support the deep ecology movement (Bender 2003:422 expanded it into a spiritual worldview, complete with different rituals such as the Council of All Beings meant to break down anthropocentric assumptions among participants and foster deeper connections to the earth (Macy 2005; Taylor 2010:21 22). In 1985, George Sessions and Bill Devall provided a popular overview of the deep ecology perspective, including what they termed sources of the persp ective from Asian and indigenous religious traditions (Devall and Sessions 1985). By the middle of the 1980s, deep ecology represented the bricolage Taylor found so characteristic of dark green religiosity, combining sometimes disparate religious and phil osophical ideas into a unique, earth revering system. According to Tricia Shapiro, a journalist who lived and worked with Appalachian radical groups and provided a detailed account of the formation of Mountain Justice and the emergence
262 of radical activism in the region, environmentalists in the area expressed a diversity of opinions about religion and environmental values. 136 She reported, most of the range of anthropo to biocentric opinion is present among MJSers [Mountain Justice Summer organizers] from th e start, with common ground found in the idea of nature as our life support system; people who are working to protect that system primarily for its value to themselves can work side by side with others working to protect it for its own MJS participan ts generally share a sense that humans are part of a larger natural community to which they have wasteland (Shapiro 2010:31). In other words, a sense of connection to and respe ct for the natural world (what Taylor argued continued that this sense of connection to the natural world infused different religious perceptions among activists as well. She said, most MJSers who have any sense of spirituality at all perceive it as connected with or activated by contact with nature. Most are at least somewhat familiar and p Ecology believers see themselves as worshipping Gaia, or pursuing forms of paganism; most incorporate Deep Ecology into Christian or other religious beliefs and practices. By and large, MJS does pretty well with avoiding religious disagreements (Shapiro 2010:32). Activists in Appalachia express a wide diversity of spiritual beliefs regarding the natural world, and these beliefs make their ways into different actions and events. Different forms of dark green religion are apparent at activist gatherings a nd events in Appalachia. The 2010 and 2011 Mountain Justice Summer Camps, for example, offered means for connecting with the natural world. The workshop convener a sked participants about their own philosophies of connection to nature, and then explained basic approaches to deep ecology and nature based mysticism. The camp also featured a presentation by performance 136 Shapiro published her work with AK Press, a anarchist press based in Oakland, California.
263 artists Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens on sexeco logy. 137 Sprinkle and Stephens created the performance art piece as a means of revising human connections with each other and the planet. noted, take care of their c lationship to the earth. For Sprinkle and Stephens, the time has come for humans to show their appreciation for the earth, rather than simply continuing to take from her. This new eco sexual relationship is fostered through different performances and rit uals in which individuals are allowed to express their connections to the earth in sensual terms. At the late May 2010 Mountain Justice Camp, for example, Sprinkle and Stephens offered a ritual marriage to the earth, where participants stood in a circle i n a field, holding hands, and vowed to protect, serve, and honor the earth as a partner. This performance drew deeply from ecofeminist spirituality, breaking down assumptions of human domination of the earth and promoting embodied connections to the natur al world. Individuals throughout the camp expressed forms of dark green religiosity as well. In one morning meeting, as participants took turns giving their names and places of origin to the assembled group, one activist (a long time environmentalist an d co founder of Mountain Justice) fter the Cherokee name for the S outhern Appalachian bioregion. 138 This bioregional sensibility is sometimes a component of spiritual deep ecology and other forms of dark green religi osity (Taylor 2000). Others, in personal conversations, 137 Individuals are allowed to propose their own workshops at Mountain Justice events. For more on sexecology, see http://www.sexecology.org/ (accessed May 16, 2011). 138 This was also the name of a former branch of Earth First! located in the region.
264 expressed spiritual connections to the natural world and were motivated to participate in Mountain Justice because of those feelings. Bill Price, a field organizer for the Sierra Club and a descenda land. If you want to call that spirituality which I choose to do then, there is a spirit based, cultural part of that love for the land that I would put firmly in reli Such motivations were not shared by all, however. 139 Another dark green religious response to mountaintop removal is Kentucky artist Jeff Chapman The Agony of Gaia 1). The life sized sculpt ure was completed in 2004 and unveiled at the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth annual meeting. The piece includes a woman (Gaia, the Greek earth goddess) lying on her side, her hands covering her eyes. Her head lies on green ground with a verdant forest on her shoulders. Moving toward her feet, though, her body becomes an open mine, with miniature bulldozers, dump trucks, and drag lines excavating the coal of her midriff. The background of the piece equally moves from sunny to stormy skies. Finally, Ga form, shaped instead into rough, terraced blocks, much like un reclaimed mountaintop removal poem Lust would never hav Stripped to the 139
265 140 I interviewed Chapman Crane at the 2 010 Mountain Justice Summer Camp, which convened near his home in Eolia, Kentucky. Chapman Crane brought his sculpture to the camp, where it sat under a pavilion through the duration of the meeting. He explained that he hoped the image would evoke strong emotions in viewers, perhaps inciting them to act. He said, for a long time in this country, in our culture, been the attitude that the earth is just there for us to exploit for resources with no responsibility towards it at all, no thought to the con something for us to exploit. I wanted to create a piece that showed that the earth wide problem. We simply treat the earth as this source of raw materials to fuel our energy consumption. Our greed, basically. So I wanted to do somethi (Chapman Crane 2010). Like other environmentalists, Chapman Crane critiqued the anthropocentrism of standard American culture, offering instead the idea of the earth as a living being worthy of reverence and respec t. While noting that there remained some elements of Christianity that value the earth, Chapman Crane believed churches in the region, generally, had failed to challenge anti environmental anthropocentrism. Reaching people, then, required metaphors from outside of the Christian tradition, he asserted. Together, the sculpture and the poem offer a striking representation of the earth as a living being, who feels the damage done to her by humans and who is in danger of permanent damage unless people change their ways. metaphor and analogy to resemble organisms with their many int As Taylor noted, the Gaian trope among contemporary environmentalists originated with the 140 This full poem and a rich description of the sculpt ure are available on the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth Website: http://www.kftc.org/our work/canary project/people in action/gaia/more about the agony of gaia (accessed May 16, 2011).
266 functions as a self regulating organism, main taining the conditions necessary for all the lifeforms earth worshipping religious values, but many Neo pagan and New Age religious practitioners took the c oncept as a useful referent to feelings of the interconnection between nature, animals, and humans (Pike 2004: 23; Taylor 2010: 35 36). Chapman revealed a sense, more specifically, of Gaian Spirituality, since he believe d that the earth remained conscious of the damages being done to it. These forms of spiritual deep ecology, bioregionalism, and Gaian Spirituality are not co equivalent; instead, as Taylor noted, they make environmentalists and related to human/nature interactions (2010:75). Because environmentalism in Appalachia has direct connections to the broader history of North American environmental movements, it is not surpris ing to find these forms of religiosity in the hills. based spirituality true of radical acti vists in Appalachia, due in some part to demographic changes among radical characterized by certain manners of speaking, clothing, and hairstyles. However, since the 1990s, the body of North American radical environmentalists has slightly shifted more toward urban anarchists, who are much more likely to listen to punk rock than the Grateful Dead, and participate in anti corporate direct actions (made famous by the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle) rather than the defense of old growth forests. Some (but by no means all) anarchists promote straight edge practices, declining drugs and alcohol and sometimes following
267 vegan diets. For some of t hese anarchists, atheism is a central component of their worldview, tension between earth spirituality practicing environmentalists and atheistic anarchists withi n radical environmental circles, and since the emergence of modern radical environmentalism there have been participants who were critical of different forms of spiritual practices within the movement. This tension persists among activists in Appalachia. The prayer service on Kayford Mountain offered by Sage Russo during the July 4 th 2009, weekend celebration, discussed in Chapter 6, provided one example of the tensions among different activists regarding religious practices. The pavilion was clearly div ided: those who distance. Still others, who had been present for previous days, were absent entirely. The social dynamics of this prayer service represented basic attitudes among many local radical activists toward religious views more broadly. According to some of the organizers of the first Mountain Justice meetings, religion was initially a contentious issue. Activists from across the nation as well as r ural locals showed up to the first organizational meetings, and such diversity occasionally revealed conflicts over worldviews. Matt Landon, an Earth First!er and organizer igious beliefs. 2010). At first, discussions of religious orientations toward the natural world resulted in the mong radical environmentalists describing spirituality among activists (Landon 2010; Taylor 2001a:184). Sage Russo reported similar tensions among groups at early meetings. As a Christian and anarchist, Russo had faced criticism from others before. In th e first meetings, some activists who Sage described as
268 of the neighbors about stuff, because they had all this other stuff on their agenda beforehand, they cou As those activists who were openly hostile toward Christianity and other religions left, others who were willing to work with religious peo ple remained. As the movement progressed and more local and national activists became involved (including expressly Christian activists), people grew more open to different religious perspectives. For some, meeting strong evangelical women like Judy Bond s changed their opinions about Christianity. Russo recalled about the first lot of people in there that just did not want to work with Chri And then they s tarted meeting Judy Bonds and folks like that and they were like, hmm, we got a lot more to explore. So they started bei ng much more cordial the faith claims of Christians, recognized that having loc al Christians involved opened valuable opportunities for networking and outreach. They realized that welcoming local religious (Landon 2010). After the first few years of Mountain Justice activism, most non prayer) seemed at least respectful of such beliefs. John Johnson, a Mountain Justice organizer, expressed there are Christians who have this spiritual connection and spiritual impetus to protect the land and to with them at least be
269 among anti mountaintop removal activists. Non religious activists are involved with the anti mountaintop removal movement as well. Stil l, exchanges occur between non religious and religious activists, and these non religious individuals are nonetheless integrated into a broader system of activism guided by environmental values. Based on his research in the Pacific Northwest, Mark Shibley provided useful tools for examining the permeable boundaries between religious and non religious activists. Among many religious studies scholars, the U.S. Pacific Northwest is often assumed to be relatively secular, due to lower institutional religious attendance. Scholars have termed the surveys of religious affiliation (Killen and Silk 2004). For Shibley, though, the apparent lack of institutional religion reflec ted the presence of a widespread earth ( 2011:165 ). Instead of nonreligious, then, the residents of the Pacific Northwest were r eligions ( 2011:181 ). Because anarchist communities and radic al environmental groups in the E offers useful tools for understanding the number of seemingly non relig ious activists involved in who adamantly refuses the term for themselves, but their perspectives can still be understood as part of a broader network of environm ental and religious values. Besides forms of spiritual deep ecology and Gaian spirituality, another significant source of dark green religiosity among environmentalists comes from the religious traditions of indigenous peoples (Taylor 2010:75). As discuss ed in Chapter 5, Appalachians frequently draw
270 cultural connections between American Indian (most often Cherokee) cultures and traditional example, and she cred ited the prominent places of local women in the movement to Cherokee to do, time with the rest of creation, out Native American brothers and s spirituality is not mutually exclusive with other religious forms, including Christianity. Indeed, a significant percenta ge of contemporary American Indians are Christians who at the same time preserve indigenous cultural and religious practices (Martin 1999:62 63). For many Appalachians of multiple religious orientations, Native religion serves as a body of insights and ec ological wisdom from which to draw. 141 At the same time, the environmental movement has sometimes met with controversy over the appropriation, by some, of what they understand as American Indian spirituality or ritual. Taylor provided an account of a part icularly contentious moment surrounding a 1993 Earth First! rendezvous on Mount Graham, Arizona, a site sacred to local Apache tradition and people from the region. During the gathering, some of the assembled environmentalists had openly consumed alcohol, despite objections by the Apache present. The resulting discussion showed the diversity of opinions concerning Native American cultural rights and the appropriation of cultures by environmentalists. Ultimately these discussions reflected the persistent tension 141 For example, the Catholic Committee of Appalachia hosts a week long Cherokee themed spiritual retreat. See http://www.ccappal.org/?page_id=1491 (accessed May 17 2011).
271 among activists who incorporated certain American Indian traditions in their own religious practice, and those who believed such practices constituted disrespect (Taylor 1997). 142 Such tensions also exist among anti mountaintop removal activists, wh o often attempt to balance respect for local native peoples and histories with current environmental values. In conversations, several activists informed me that some sort of Native American religiosity (such as regular practices like sweat lodges or a mor e general feeling of kinship with the natural world that they associated with the beliefs of Native peoples) influenced their own earth based spirituality. Among younger activists, however, these views seemed less common, yet references to Native American spirituality are frequently present in rallies and other activist seven generations of salamander women (one still an egg) engaging in basket weaving, harvestin g wild plants, and learning about plants from elders (Figure 7 2). Though perhaps Arnold 2005). The concept of preserving nature, mindful of the seventh generation, was a widely adopted trope among 20 th century environmentalists. The anti mountaintop removal movement has also included American Indian activists, including Matt Sherman a Blackfoot Indian activist from West Virginia. On June 23, 2009, at the rally at Marsh Fork Elementary School, Sherman was the last speaker before the march and civil disobedience at the entrance to the Massey Coal processing plant (Figure 7 3). In hi s brief speech to the crowd, Sherman spoke of reconciliation between the miners and the activists 142 There exists a large body of literature critiquing Native American cultural appropriation among non Native westerners, including environmentalists. See Churchill 2002, Krech 1999, Deloria 1998, and Gill 1991. At the same time, others have wor ked to respectfully show positive contributions from native cultures for environmental ethics. See Harvey 2005, Berkes 1999, Basso 1996, and Nelson 1986.
272 lood of our relatives is stop mountaintop removal. However, he argued that native peoples (especially women) will ultimately bring an end to the mining practi ce. Pointing to Maria Gunnoe, the Goldman Prize at the forefro 143 Before Sherman took the stage, one miner in the audience tried to shout down each as that, if the anti mountaintop removal speaker arrived by car (which of course they all did), he or she was a hypocrite, relying on coal generated steel. Most speakers just ignored the miner, but Sherman today on the wings of eagles, sent by the Many in the crowd clearly viewed this as an important spiritual omen and a sign of approval from nature itself. Sherm 144 ther many important themes of American Indian religiosity and their importance to environmental movements. In September 2010, during the Appalachia 143 144 rk Elementary School, June 23, 2009.
273 Rising march in Washington, D.C., Sherman and a group of Native American drummers from Ohio lead the solemn procession of coalfield residents and activists to the gates of the White House, where they sat and awaited arrest. The decisions about the logistics of the march were made by a committee of coalfield residents and long time activists in Appalachia. Ask ing of the land. For some Appalachians and many anti mountaintop removal activists, Native cultures represent foundational social and environmental attitude s upon which later European immigrants built their own distinct Appalachian culture. This Appalachian culture is the product of cultural bricolage, representing the outcome of earlier historical interactions. Scholars of religion in Appalachia have noted this uniqueness in the region, terming the forms of independent Alba editions of her text America: Religions and Religion Albanese cited the example of Appalachian y people who live together in a certain geographic area. It is born of natural geography, of past and present human history, and of the inte 325). 145 In later works, Albanese adopted the term beliefs and lifeways If it is true that there are regional religions throughout the nation, and that one such form exists in A ppalachia, then perhaps it is appropriate to speak of an Appalachian nature religion, derived 145 Though in later editions, this section was removed and the text significantly shortened.
274 mountaintop removal. nly a superfi cial observer could fail to understand that the mountain people really love their wilderness noted the presence of deep connections between Appalachian people and the landscape. Judy something about these mountains here, the ancientness of these mountains, that you can feel it. feelings of connection to the land characterized Appalachian culture in general. For example, t of Appalachian culture y rooted there and they have many generations of (Warren 2009). In her work with Mountain Justice activist, Tricia Shaprio found that these felt place did not lead to provincial concern to one specific property, but Shaprio noted that activists that these connections to the landscape formed a c ommon denominator between Christian and
275 anarchist activists, who overcame their mutual skepticism of each other through shared environmental values. This Appalachian nature religion infuses the work of numerous activists in the region, though some expres s its themes more prominently than others. Those who expressed spiritual connections to the landscape of Appalachia most directly were the long time West Virginia activists Larry Gibson, Julian Martin, and Joe Begley, though these themes feature more subt ly into the beliefs of others like Judy Bonds. Appalachian nature religion, then, refers to these intimate connections residents feel with the landscape of Appalachia. More specifically, these connections are characterized by a profound feeling of person al belong and connectedness to the land, based in formative expe riences with that landscape; a concern for past and future generations of people in the region; and agnosticism abo ut supernatural claims. This definition n of dark green religion, particularly the argument that it is based in the specific landscape of Appalachia, not nature in general (though I doubt any of the individuals examined below would support other socially and environmentally damaging practices elsewhere in the world). To expand the kinship metaphor, for these Appalachians who profess local nature religion, the mountains are immediate family and thus require immediate attention, while other natural places are extended family. This feeling of kinship with the mountains of Appalachia is the most prominent element of Appalachian mountain religion as reflected through interviews and archival data. Larry connection between the people and the land of Appalachia. Appalachia is a rare, special place. It embraces you no matter what part of Appala Gibson 2009). He
276 make a statement in some of the talks I give that, my mother gave me birth, but the land gave me pervade Appalachian culture. H (Gullett 1977). In an interview done in 1987 and currently held at the Kentucky Historical Society, Joe Begley (the Kentucky surface mining activist from the 1960s and 70s) also made a kinship connection to the land. ight to destroy the environment (Begley 1987). As revealed in this quote, Begley viewed family and the environment as two sides of the same coin. His statement proposed a moral syllogism: just as it is wrong to hurt your kin, it is wrong to hurt the environment because we exist with both of them in similar relationships. For him, feelings of kinship were derived from time spent with the land. Julian Martin, a long time West Virginia activist (and the person who created the I Heart Mountains stickers), explained that time in the woods led him to his perspective on For Gibson as well, it was h is time living on the land a nd experiences in the woods that helped generate his feelings toward it. Speaking of his ancestors, Gibson said land, they lived WITH the land (Gibson 2009). Experiences leading to a reverence for the land are not just personal then, but connected to an ethic of respect passed from previous generations. Nature itself is valuable in this perspective, but individuals l ike Gibson, Begley and others work to preserve it not only for some intrinsic value in the place, but for futur e human generations on the land as well. Allen Johnson termed the religion of Larry Gibson and others
277 promise, or covenant, between past, present, and future gen erations. The land was left in a certain condition and it is the duty of the present generation to leave it in at least as good a condition for future generations. A central offense of mountaintop removal is that it presents irreversible change, violatin g the duty of current generations to preserve the environment for future generations. Oral histories at the Kentucky H istorical Society confirm this covenantal/kinship relationship between Appalachians, the land, and future generations In various inter views for (the year SMCRA was passed) several former miners and coal town residents were asked ab out their views on strip mining. Bill Viras, a former miner from Pike County Kentucky who first entered the mines in 1916, said of strip for the rising generation t hen whatever they For Viras, strip mining was inappropriate because it removed good soil the very foundation of life in an agrarian culture. For Marvin Gullett the hills of Appalachia presented a kind of eternal 1977). Revealing the intersections between these feelings of kinship and local Christian values,
278 Psalm 121:1 -146 -and the taineers to the mountains, and this bodes poorly for future generations and the covenant between present and future generations. This concern for preserving the land for future generations transcends different generations, and is thus a second important f eature of Appalachian nature religion. Finally, the clearest proponents of Appalachian nature r eligion express agnosticism regarding supernatural claims either questioning the existence of supernatural powers and deities or stating that such questio ns remain unimportant in their lives. Within the broader set of dark green religion, Taylor identified areas of both supernaturalistic and naturalistic forms. Agnosticism toward supernatural claims places people like Begley, Martin, and Gibson into the n aturalistic area, though their opinions lie closer to supernaturalism in the spectrum of beliefs than would those of scientific atheist. For example, Joe Begley jokingly noted, for example, you can bet your b from Eastern Kentucky conne ction to his place, but it also revealed his agnosticism on the presence of God. A few minutes later in the same interview, Begley made a more directly n aturalistic s y religion is gonna go and I want to pre serve that, I want to have that (Begley 1987). He conclu ded that long thought (Begley 1987). In 146 This is the King James Version of the passage, and not the New International Version used in other Bible quotes in this diss ertation. The King James and NIV versions differ slightly, and it was clearly the King James Version cited by Gullett. I used the King James Version here to preserve the original intent of the speaker.
279 For Begley, the functioning ecosystem as a whole is worthy of moral consideration. Supernatural issues, such as the presence of God or an afterlife, remained less important in his perspective (Taylor 2010:16). Julian M artin expressed similar views. On July 16, 2 010, Martin and I drove around S outhern West Virginia, visiting an active mountaintop removal site. When we stopped at the edge of the site, where the natural forest gave way to stripped land, Martin noted that he feels a sense of awe in the woo f I was still a believer, I would attribute it to a feeling th at that feel like cathedrals, they just have a holy feel about them. And if there is a God you sure as ore likely found in these woods (J. Martin 2010). a concern for immediate experience and skepticism about the existence of supernatural elements in this case God. While Begley and Martin expressed skepticism about supernatural elements, others in Appalachia criticize church officials in the region for their historical complicity with the coal industry. Joe Begley noted that it was Christian min isters who often convinced locals to sell their land to developers. These ministers exploited the trust of locals for monetary gain, and in Larry Gibson also critiqued ity in the exploitatio n of Appalachia. I n 2004 a group of Appalachian ministers including many of the founders of Christians for the Mountains, went to Kayford Mountain to visit L home, Gi bson As participants began apologizing, Gibson interrupted and said a you group of latecomers, but of Appalachian preachers in general. Mountaintop remo val had bee n
280 happening for decades, and if it was something Christian s should care about, why did they wait until the 21 st century to get involved? Gibson noted, think the industry would have been as far advanc (Gibson 2009). This was a profound moment for those present, and many (including Allen Johnson) have since committed themselves greatly to the fight against mountaintop removal and won the respect of Gibson (Epling 2009; Joh nson 2009). Of course, while perhaps skeptical of supernatural claims and church institutions in the region, Gibson, Begley, and Martin remained aware of the Christian narratives that had profoundly shaped their culture. In his regular picnics at Kayford Mountain, Gibson asks for prayer services. Bible quotes also adorn many of the hand painted signs around the site. Clearly, Christian narratives make up part of the local culture Gibson seeks to preserve. Joe Begley, while skeptical of supernatural clai ms, expressed affinities for local Baptist culture and the model of Jesus as a protestor (Begley 1994; Begley 1987). Appalachian nature religion and Christianity need not be mutually exclusive, but instead can coexist in different degrees depending upon t he individual. By identifying features of Appalachian nature religion among its clearest proponents, more subtle expressions become more apparent as well. It is clear that, among local anti mountaintop removal activists from this and past generations, Ap palachian nature religion makes up one current within the broader stream of religious and environmental values. In its multiple forms, dark green religion is present among anti mountaintop removal activists in Appalachia. Because of the interactions betwe en proponents of dark green forms, such as spiritual deep ecology, and local evangelical Christians, however, the situation on the
281 ground in Appalachia may be unique. While activists with different religious orientations have worked together in the moveme nt for years, important differences still remain. Cooperation, Co optation, and Counter Resistance: Religion and Narratives on the Ground Evidence presented in Chapters 6 and 7 revealed how different religious values are prominent for anti mountaintop remo val activists in Appalachia. Whether mainline Christian, evangelical Christian, dark green religion, or some combination of these different forms, religious activists work together and share ideas in the movement to stop mountaintop removal. Judy Bonds e think we can all be brothers and sisters in caring for the creation, no matter why we care for it, s 2009). Amidst calls for unity and cooperation, though, distinctive identities persist. While religious activists may agree that mountaintop removal should stop, they also disagree on other important social issues and perspectives. Mediating these diff erences effectively is crucial for the overall success of the movement, and explaining the role of religion in resistance to mountaintop removal requires acknowledgment of these potential points of conflict. In his work with evangelical environmental ac tivists, Lucas Johnston was introduced to 155). While evangelicals engaged in environmental issues, he found, they distinguished themselves from other non evangelical act ity wa This applies to many evangelical anti mountaintop removal activists as well. Allen Johnson explained in a Newsweek m y identity i It's as a Christian. Because I am Christian, I should be involved with social justice, the poor, the needy. Environmentalism is
282 one thing in my circle, but it's not my center (quoted in Gates and Juarez 2005). As with other evangelicals interviewed by Johnston, Christian identity is cent One of the most substantial fears among evangelical anti mountaintop removal activists is in being subsumed into the secular environmental movement. Many of the individuals I interviewed made it clear that they did not want their values burried under the secular movement. God supersedes from other environmen opted by the environmental movement and seen as just being used by them. So I think we have to be really careful. So what we like to do is work with the environmental groups, but n nt For Marshall, retaining specifically Christian has practical impacts on activism in Appalachia as well. He noted that many coalfield residents automatical ly reject environmentalists but are more willing to accept Christians. Speaking as Christians rather than environmentalists, then, poses a way to reach communities that would otherwise be off limits. Marshall said that Christians commented that Christians themselves are sometimes too ready to fall in line with secular communit ust happy to be appease the secular community as well, in the interest of pluralism and political corre (Russo 2009). Russo continued that Christians cannot allow themselves to be just an image for
283 While evangelicals and other anti mountaintop removal activists (primarily anarchists) may ultimately agree on the value of Appalachian nature and culture, they disagree on other social points. These disagreements can sometimes cause tensions within g roups that activists have had to manage carefully. For example, some evangelical activists consider concern for environmental justice to be a continuation of pro life policies. One prominent campaign of the Evangelical Environmental Network involved prom oting increased regulations of mercury due to the on fetuses, often leading to birth defects. An announcement on the EEN the unborn. J esus taught us to love our neighbors and treat others as we would want to be treated. Protecting the unborn and children from mercury poisoning and air pollution is in keeping with Jesus' commands. It is time to stop the 147 Such a perspective conflicts with those who hold socially liberal beliefs. Indeed, during the first months of Mountain Justice, some anarchist activists ultimately refused to work with conservative locals. Since that time, however, activists of differen t beliefs have managed to put aside those other differences when necessary, without changing their opinions. Sage Russo characterized the about politics right n ctivist John 147 See http://creationcare.org/blog.php?blog=30 (accessed May 19, 2011).
284 go there. Plus, I have no interest in discussin differences between different religious groups opposed to mountaintop removal certainly exist, they do not seem to fundamentally impact the efforts of activists. Christian activists in Appalachia also face argum ents in favor of mountaintop removal based on Christian perspectives. For some miners and their supporters, the Christian belief that God created the world specifically for human benefit supports continued mountaintop removal. One miner interviewed by th e New York Times argued that coal was ultimately meant for human int erview subjects likewise argued that God placed coal in the earth for humans to use, though in in a good, clean workmanship desert prepare the way for the Lor d; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind toget 5). Read literally, the passage seems to provide direct support to the practice of mountaintop removal. Christian anti mountaintop removal activists respond that citing this Isaiah pass age to support mountaintop removal is a misuse of scripture. Dennis Sparks said of those who used
285 oval advocates were imposing their own beliefs onto their interpretations of the text (eisegesis). Denise Giardina similarly son, such interpretations reveal a denial of addiction. Rather than facing a continued dependency upon fossil fuels, supporters of mountaintop removal search for anything they can find to support their position and not face their own addictions (Johnson 2 009). Nonetheless, the same religious texts that are used to oppose mountaintop removal are used by others to support the practice, and individuals are faced with competing interpretations when forming their opinions. Some Christian opponents to mountain top removal find a middle ground between views of human dominion and the correctness of mountaintop removal. Louise Dixon, the wife of a Kentucky miner, argued that God put coal in the mountains for human use, but that God also intended humans to access th e coal through deep mining, not strip mining. She said, [God] put it here for our benefit, and there was enough coal in the state of Kentucky, a million years, there would have been coal for everybody. We opened our own little c oal bank, we got our coal out, therefore greed came in and took over. And these mountaineers had no idea of what they were doing (Dixon 2001). Coal may be a gift from G od for Dixon, but strip mining is the product of human greed. was placed there for a reason, and if the reason was for us to generate electricity or to keep w arm in favor of and opposed to mountaintop removal. Other factor s must be involved in decision making, with Biblical justifications, such as quoting the above Isaiah passage, used to support
286 that decision. Roy Crist argued that financial reasons generally drive locals to support mountaintop removal. For Crist, Christ ians should be aware of overly criticizing those who side of this issue. And a lot of those people are on the other side of this issue simply because to accept the pro coal view that the resource was given speci fically for human benefit while at the same time rejecting the practice of mountaintop removal. A second major argument used by some Christians in support of mountaintop removal (or really, in opposition to environmentalists who propose sweeping lifesty le changes) comes from advocates of dispensational premillennialism. This position, popular among Christian fundamentalists from the early 20 th century, divided history into distinct segments and interpreted historical and contemporary events in light of their relevance to heralding the coming end of days (Marsden 2006:4 5). Based on beliefs in the impending apocalypse, some fundamentalist and evangelical churches argue that people should worry about saving souls, not environmental issues. Others continu e that God will make all environmental problems right in the end anyway, so there is no need to remediate them now; and in some instances, worsening environmental decline is viewed as one of many signs of the end of days. Advocates of creation care and Ch ristian mountaintop removal opponents generally reject this approach to the world, although some retain an evangelical interest in premillennialism. Matthew Sleeth responded to this anti dments, and love God and all God loves, regardl Knowledge of an end time reminds
287 Sleeth, arguing that knowledge of the end of days does not absolve Christians of their obligations to live as good Christians. For Russo, claims that the millennium cancels any obligation toward environmentalism or social concern represent excuses for inaction, rather than solid arguments. Jim Lewis added t hat following the idea that God will ultimately take care of all problems to its logical extreme makes life essentially impossible. He said of those who claim to believe that p in the morning and themselves in environmental and social issues represent excuses for inaction, or cases of what removal and other extractive industries (Johnson 2009). Clearly, there are multiple religious arguments for and against mountaintop removal, and religious environmentalists have many options and int erpretations to choose from to make up their minds or support their opinions. As Roy Crist noted, those Christians who use their faith to support mountaintop removal are no less Christian than those who oppose it. Even those who agree in their opposition to mountaintop removal sometimes differ in their reasoning. Evangelical Christians may support creation care though ultimately reject being included in environmentalists ma y likewise support the inclusion of Christian coalfield residents in the movement against mountaintop removal while politely rejecting their efforts at conversion. While cooperation between multiple religious groups certainly occurs in opposition to mount aintop removal, differences remain important as well. Certain beliefs and identities remain significant, but their boundaries become blurred as individuals work together. An interesting (if
288 sometimes tense) interplay between people of different religions with different environmental values, is occurring in Appalachia. obable intersections, incommensurable ways of living, discrepant imaginings, unexpected sometimes contradictory, responses to mountaintop removal make up singular braid s in the rope of religious environmentalism. Following the more organic metaphors of Taylor (2010) and Taylor (2007), different religious responses are currents in a broader stream of environmental concern. Points of tension are just as important as poin ts of agreement, and the creativity exhibited by individuals. The impact of religious values on resistance to mountaintop removal is difficult to disentangle from other factors, but such disentanglement may not be necessary. For those groups and individu als presented in this dissertation, religious values clearly make up an important part of their reasoning in opposition to the surface mining practice. The importance of religion in the resistance to mountaintop removal should certainly not be overstated, nor should it be understated. Another element that ties different religious activists together in the movement against mountaintop removal is the importance of narratives and relationality. Traditional Appalachian culture comprises what Robert Bellah c in retelling its story, its constitutive narrative, and in so doing, it offers examples of the men and 1996:153). Though the makeup of this Appalachian community is contested, all activists against mountaintop removal seem to agree that a specific community (comprised of both humans and
289 their surrounding environment and other organisms) is threatened by the practice. Activism in preserving that community (Bellah et al. 1996:154). Tying these individuals together are narratives of relationality; and though the content of these narratives differs (whether based on the Bible or perceptions of kinship with the natural world), different activists are nonetheless engaged in similar projects. If different religious values make up currents in the broader stream of environmental activ ism, then narratives of relationality mark the banks of the stream, binding Alastair MacIntyre, George Lakoff, and Mark Johnson help to further theorize the links between narratives in anti moun taintop removal activism. 148 In his highly influential After Virtue (2007), MacIntyre argued that h umans exist within and are beholden to a series of nested relationships and narratives Individuals are both act ors in and authors of the narratives within which they find themselves situated, but individual control is not complet e. Instead, MacIntyre considered individuals to be co authors of their own narratives along with other individuals, nature, and historica l and cu ltural factors. He said enter upon a stage which we did not design and we find ourselves part of an action that was not of our making. Each of us being a main character in his own drama plays subordinate parts in the dramas of others, and ea ch drama constrains the others (MacIntyre 2007:213). Though individual control over narratives is not absolute, searching for truth necessarily entails discovering the narratives of man is in his actions and practices, as well as in his fictions, essentially a story telling animal. He is not essentially, but 148 By introducing narrative ethics here I am teetering on the edge of a great academic precipice. Numerous thinkers from a vast array of disciplines, including philosophy (Ricoe ur 1983, 1984, 1985), theology (Hauerwas 2001), and history (Carr 1991), have employed the concept of narrative structure toward very diverse ends. My use of narrative theory is thus only a small sampling, but engaging with the broader field would likely require a separate project.
290 becomes through his history, a teller of stories that aspire to truth. But the key question for men is not about their own authorship; I can only answer the questi (MacIntyre 2007:216). Individuals continually negotiate their places within multi ply nested narrative traditions as they progress through their l ives, and moral decisions are made based on these identifies a specific son/father relationship which in turn implies specific duties and moral obligations. The nar ratives of life relate stories about our relationships and duties, for MacIntyre. Appalachians find themselves situated in this way as well, between narratives of Appalachian history, religious traditions, and economic policies. The Australian philosophe r environmental problems. He argued that people choose to live and act are those embodied in the narratives they are living out 1998:7). The question partially becomes to which community is service owed, and for mountaintop removal opponents, the answer lies with local human and natural communities suffering the damaging effects of the mining practice. George La (Johnson 1993:11) added to important concepts to the work of narrative theorists, such as that of the embodied mind and the metaphorical structure of cognition, useful for theorizing the importance of narratives in understanding religious resistance to environmental issues. In their early work Metaphors We Live By Lakoff and Johnson argue d from linguistic evidence that human cognition is basically structured metaphorically, where one thi ng is understood and experienced in terms of another (2003:5) Complex value systems, including those found within
291 different religions, helped explain physical experiences, according to Lakoff and Johnson. They inks between everyday experience and the coherent metaphorical systems that characterize religions and cultures. Symbolic metonymies that are grounded in our physical experience provide an essential means of comprehending religious and fundamental values in a culture will be coherent with the metaphorical structure of the most appeal to some Christian Appalachians, then, because they cohere with shared social concepts of Christian duty and environmental responsibility. Of course, this does not prove that concepts like creation care will necessarily influence others since there are plenty of Christians in the region who oppose creation care. Still, the work of Lakoff and Johnson helps explain why it is possible and potentially powerful for different religious narratives and metaphors to combine with environmental values and exp eriences. Individuals do not simply choose to believe in creation care, but instead, they reflect concepts based on larger connections within the social and embodied mind. Lakoff and Johnson wrote more specifically about nature and religious thought in their later work, Philosophy in the Flesh (1999). They argue d, mental: they are shaped in crucial ways by the body and brain and how the body can function in everyday life (1999:565). Minds and cognition are alway s embodied, shaped by history, culture, and the natural world. Toward the end of t he book, Lakoff and Johnson took up the implications of this embodied theory of mind for religions. Religious feeling s they argue d, entail feelings of transcende nce, defin ed as
292 becomes vital through metaphor (Lakoff and Johnson 1999:567). Reli gious experiences are always filtered through metaphor ical structures, and t he embodied nature of the mind ties religious metaphor to nature. They argue d t encounter. Rathe r, it is part of our being. It is the locus of our existence and identity. We cannot and do no t exist apart from it. It is through empathetic projection that we come to know our environment, understand how we are part of it and how it is part of us. Th is is the bodily mechanism by which we can participate in nature, not just as hikers or climbers or swimmers, but as part of nature itself, part of a larger, all encompassing whole. A mindful embodied spirituality is thus an ecological spirituality (Lakof f and Johnson 1999:566) Humans are participants within the natural world and co autho rs of the narratives in which they live. Religions, or at least embodied spiritualit ies, do not always disconnect individuals from awareness of nature, but on the con trary, can foster a deeper connection with the environment. Lakoff and Johnson provide a plausible explanation as to how experiences in the hills of Appalachia may promote feelings of belonging and connection to nature and motivate religious responses in its defense. Of course, MacIntyre and Lakoff and Johnson would disagree on several important points, but their discussions of narratives helps researchers understand religious resistance to mountaintop removal. Religious values do not operate independen tly for activists. Instead, they are nested within networks of values, histories, and physical conditions that are bound together through narratives; and these narratives ultimately describe relationships. Paraphrasing MacIntyre, the various religious na rratives active in Appalachia describe human/nature and human/society relationships. To be a steward, in the context of creation care, is to exist in a specific relationship between humanity, creation, and God. This relationship posits a special duty for humans to care for those over which they have been awarded dominion. For proponents
293 to past and future generations and environments. Each of these forms tie s specific narrative traditions to behavioral values, and though evangelical Christians and radical environmentalists might have little else in common, in Appalachia they share relational commitments to protect the ecosystems and communities of the mountai ns. As ecofeminist philosopher Jim Cheney argued, narrative is the key, then, but it is narrative grounded in geography rather than in a linea r, essentialized narrative self (1989:126). Likewise, narratives of religious resistance to mountaintop remova l are grounded in the geography and history of Appalachia, though in many cases they also entail insights and traditions from far outside of the region. Appalachian activists John Rausch and Allen Johnson made similar arguments about the importance of rela morality as concrete terms of law, but instead, religious laws propose specific relationships between individual humans, societies, and God. Creation care, likewise, is not a divine (Rausch 2009). This relational perspective was shared by evangelicals Allen Johnson and Calvin DeWitt. Johnson comm ented that the Biblical mandate for stewardship given to the first humans in the Garden of Eden identified a specific relationship between humans, God, and creation. He relationship with God, relations hip with one party, human creature The power of creativity in this relationship lies w ith God, while humans and other creatures co
294 exist in relationship with the creator and creation. Analyzing religious resistance to mountaintop removal in terms of narrative theory and relationality, then, is not entirely foreign to Appalachian activists themselves. The theories of MacIntyre, Lakoff, and Johnson help tie together to fundamental values and motivations of religious activists in the region while at the same time not masking their differences. The result is both explanatory and respectful to movement participants. Conclusion Mainline Christians, evangelical Christians, and dark green religious practitioners (of multiple forms) make up the three main categories of religious values employed by long time, committed activists against mountainto p removal. These categories are not perfect, representing more overlapping fields of influence than solid, discrete identities. They also each represent three ca tegories make up strands in a larger braid of religious resistance to mountaintop removal. Following Shapiro (2010:31), what ultimately holds these different strands together is a shared commitment to preserving the ecosystems and communities of Appalachi a. Of course, that similarity exists only in the broadest scope. Zooming in, we see that fundamental differences between groups persist. Some locals hope to preserve the coal industry while phasing out surface mining, while others seek a complete cessat ion of coal mining and burning in order to remediate the global problem of climate change. Some activists view their commitment to saving the mountains as a necessary feature of their moral responsibilities as Christians to provide justice to the poor and suffering on earth, while others operate under the belief that mountaintop removal represents a direct affront to the earth organism who is, itself, worthy of spiritual respect. At these points and others, different activists may never agree. Likewise, lessons learned in Appalachia will likely not perfectly apply elsewhere, since the issue is very
295 much tied to the specific landscape of the southern mountains. Total agreement between parties and translatability to other issues is not necessary, though. Whatever other fibers are wrapped in the braid of resistance, the main trajectory of religious resistance to mountaintop removal is to end the mining practice. Other issues, though at times intertwined, ultimately comprise another story. Figure 7 1. Crane. Note the open, bleeding ribs and strip mining machinery scattered around. Photo taken by author in Chapman
296 Figure 7 2 plant identification, weaving, and planting. Beehive Design Collective, no copyright. Figure 7 3. Matt Sherman speaks at a rally at Marsh Fork Elementary School. Photo by author, June 23, 2009.
297 Figure 7 4. Larry Gibson describing the mine site surrounding his property on Kayford Mountain, West Virginia. Photo by author, July 3, 2009. Figure 7 5. Julian Martin stands at the edge of a mountaintop removal site in West Virginia. Photo by author, July 16, 2010.
298 CHAPTER 8 CONCLUSION Following a panel on mountaintop removal policies at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Appalachian Studies Association, a local Appalachian man from the audience stood and argued that anti mou ntaintop removal activists should not focus on saving the few un impacted mountains left in Appalachia. Instead, they sho uld work on new environmentally friendly industries for the region once the mining industry ran its course, because, as he concluded, 149 For him, the environmental damage was for the most part already done, and the more reasonable approach for the future meant preparing for the inevitable decline of the coal industry. Government and coal The World Energy Council (WEC) reported that, as of 2008, the United States controlled 242.7 billion tons of coal reserves. This was almost as much as the nearest other coal heavy countrie s (Russia and China) combined (WEC 2010:4). While the WEC reported on the U.S. generally, data from Appalachia showed a similar bounty of future reserves. In 2010 the West Virginia Coal Association estimated that there remained over 51 billion tons of re coverable coal in the state of West Virginia alone. At 2010 recovery rates (about 144 million tons per year), it would be over 300 years until West Virginia coal ran out (WVCA 2010:6). If not challenged by government officials or resisted by local commun ities, coal mining in Appalachia could persist for centuries. Activists respond differently to this data. Some, like the man who spoke at the Appalachian Studies Association meeting, believe that coal will just have to run its course. One activist was v ery pessimistic, and in an interview said that mountaintop removal would probably continue until the coal ran out, and even then, the region 149
299 would likely be used as a toxic dump site. Other activists are not content to simply allow mountaintop removal to continue, however. Instead, they offer alternative industries for the region. Many around Coal River Valley in West Virginia (including Judy Bonds in her later days) advocate for wind energy farms on the already flattened mine land. Activists cite studi es showing the long term profitability of wind power in the area and urge Appalachia to become a leader in alternative energy production (Zeller 2010). Others provide more positive visions of Appalachia moving to a post industrial, decentralized agrarian society, and thus a vision of a post capitalist U.S. (Figure 8 1). If mountaintop removal is to be stopped, the U.S. government must take a stronger k on some mountaintop removal expansion permits in 2010 showed some promise for locals, longer and more detailed evaluations of mining policies and practices are needed to account for the multiple ecological, economic, and human health impacts of the pract ice. Opponents of mountaintop removal argue that regional Appalachian politics are controlled by coal friendly legislators, and as long as the coal industry is allowed to have dominance over policymakers, few local legal challenges to mountaintop removal can have success. For this reason, there must be stronger efforts toward community democracy, where individuals feel they can freely express their beliefs without coercion. Voices from impacted communities must be heard by local and national politicians. As some activists argue, C entral Appalachia presents a good site for wind and alternative energy development. If investors are interested in developing wind energy there, then it could potentially become a job producing industry, rivaling coal on the fr ee market. Stopping mountaintop removal, then, would require the efforts of courageous locals and interested parties from outside of the region. Because coal mining directly fuels U.S. energy
300 dependency, which in turn contributes to the growing problem o f global climate change, it is in mountaintop removal. During the first decade of the 21 st century, mountaintop removal emerged from a relatively unknown story into one of the most significant environmental justice movements in the United States. The issue drew some of the brightest social organizers and environmental activists from around the country, and inspired many locals to take positions of leadersh ip that they may have previously eschewed. Whether people joined the movement to protect their back fuel based economy and its relationship to climate change, resistance to mountaintop removal became an important event in the history of North American social and environmental justice. Sierra Club field organizer Bill Significantly, the resistance to mountaintop removal involved religious activists who incorporated their faith and values into their efforts. Biocentric radical environmentalists, atheistic anarchists, ma inline Christian preachers, and evangelical mountaineers (to just name a few groups) were drawn together by a shared commitment to stop mountaintop removal mining. Although religious tensions in the early years of the 21 st century pushed some activists aw ay 2011, the movement against mountaintop removal also revealed some of the promise of religious and environmentalist cooperation. Activists drew upon familiar narrative traditions, including religious values and cultural histories, to motivate and support their cause. The strength and
301 influence of the movement, although such things are difficult to measure, is in part due to the incorporation of religious them es. The movement against mountaintop removal could offer valuable insights for other environmental and social justice movements around the world. Just as the Appalachian movement drew upon lengthy local and national histories of resistance (including lo cal union organizing, radical direct action tactics, and methods of legal challenge used by national environmental groups), other future movements may draw upon lessons learned from mountaintop removal protestors. This includes how to effectively coordina te activists of different religious beliefs to work together, without masking or downplaying their values and the differences between them. At the same time, secular groups should not parade religious activists in front of their movements as signs of the values held by those religious practitioners even those values that may be controversial. Religious values may not always be involved when communities stand against environmentally oppressive practices but when they are, it is important to acknowledge and understand them. For their parts, scholars must help to elucidate the broader philosophical, historical, cultural, and religious connections between groups, but they must also be honest about what th ese values are, and what they are not. Categorizing different values helps explanation, but it must be done carefully to prevent misrepresenting the feelings and experiences of activists on the ground. In this study I have attempted to do just that. Add ressing the muddiness and hybridity of religious values on the ground leaves little room for firm answers. Just as a river continually reshapes its banks, analytical points of reference shift and footings remain unstable when describing religious environm entalism. Nonetheless, regardless of what scholars think of the movement, some Appalachians will continue to rise up in resistance to mountaintop removal, viewing this as
302 essential to protect their homes, health, and ecosystems, and often times they will consider their resistance as a religious obligation. Figure 8 coal Appalachia. In the image, worms and flies work to rebuild soil and vegetation on old mine equipment. Be ehive Design Collective, no copyright.
303 APPENDIX RESEARCH METHODS The primary research for this dissertation is based in archival research, participant observation among anti mountaintop removal activists, and in depth interviews with movement leaders. T his research was conducted between March 2008 and the spring of 2011, with substantial time spent in the field in the summers of 2009 and 2010. The following is a brief explanation of these methods, explaining why they were chosen, how they were applied, and what conclusions they helped produce. The choice to use this three legged primary research structure was inspired by leading scholarly works on religions and nature, primarily Gould 2005, Haberman 2006, Peterson 2005, B. Taylor 2010, and S. Taylor 2 007. Though covering a diverse range of subjects, each of these sources analysed specific community responses to environmental issues through in depth interviews and field observations, combined with substantial historical contextualization. Whether Salv adoran intentional communities, radical environmentalists, Hindu environmental activists, or back to the land activists, each of these sources revealed the rich scholarly potential of interdisciplinary work in religion and environmental studies with values held as a central variable. The success of these works greatly influenced my own adoption of similar methods among anti mountaintop removal activists. As discussed in later chapters of this dissertation, simply examining organized religious responses to mountaintop removal, I found, was insufficient for revealing the diverse religious responses to the subject. In order to ascertain those different responses, and to truly understand the movement and its historical continuities and internal debates, I had to engage, in depth, with activists themselves. The result, I believe, accurately reflects the diversity of responses to mountaintop removal among those who oppose it
304 and contributes to further understanding of how human religious values influence their practices toward the natural world. The use of archival data was intended to help provide historical contextualization for the modern anti mountaintop removal movement. Working at university and institutional archives at Berea College, East Tennessee Sta te University, the University of Kentucky, and the Kentucky Historical Society, I focused on oral histories of coal miners and coal camp residents, religious surveys conducted in the early 20 th century, as well as the personal and professional documents of Appalachian environmental groups and leaders, such as the Appalachian Alliance and Harry Caudill. Oral histories from former miners and coal camp residents held at the Kentucky Historical Society and Eastern Kentucky University proved particularly useful Between the late 1970s and early 1990s, many retired deep miners and their families were interviewed about coal camp life and their views of mining industry changes. Many of these individuals were asked about their perspectives on surface mining. Anal yzing these statements and understanding their historical contexts, and comparing the analysis to that of the leading histories of the Appalachian coal industry, allowed me to compare and contrast historical views of surface mining to contemporary views of mountaintop removal. Documenting these views allowed me to chart a shift in popular perceptions of the issue as forms of surface mining grew more intensive and environmentally costly. Besides archival data, much of the primary research of this project comes from 19 face to face semistructured interviews (Bernard 2002:205). Each of these interviews lasted between 30 and 120 minutes and was conducted with University of Florida IRB approval (protocol 2008 U 654). Each respondent signed an informed consen t form, which I still hold on file, agreeing to the terms of the interview and choosing whether or not to remain anonymous or be named in the
305 project. All of my respondents allowed me to use their names in the project. Though questions differed slightly depending upon the research subject, each individual was asked questions on their personal history in Appalachia and in relation to mountaintop removal, their personal religious commitments and the relationships of those commitments to their beliefs about mountaintop removal, and their views on specific issues related to mountaintop removal, such as the use of direct action tactics, their perceptions of the social and environmental costs of the practice, and their visions for a post mountaintop removal Appa lachia. Within each category I allowed time for open ended conversation. I selected my subjects by observing, through the media and at rallies, the most visible opponents of the issue. My first interview was with Judy Bonds In June 2009. Following that I concluded each interview (or in the discussion after the interview) asking the subject to recommend others with whom I might speak. In that way, I identified future interview subjects. I also met people at events and rallies, introduced myself and ex plained my project, and scheduled interviews from there. In selecting my subjects, I was primarily interested in individuals who took strong leadership positions in the movement against mountaintop removal and who had long histories of work on the issue. I did not, in other words, just pick random people that I met at different events. I decided to focus on movement leaders because I wanted to understand how religious values influenced those most responsible for guiding the contemporary movement. Explo ring the religious values of other participants at anti mountaintop removal events (some of whom may have only learned of the issue recently and thus not have much perspective on its trajectory over the years) would be interesting, but a different project from what I intended to undertake. Finally, and perhaps problematically, I did not seek out individuals who supported mountaintop removal for official interviews (though I did have some informal discussions with mountaintop
306 removal supporters at times). This choice was made primarily because my project focused on religious views against the practice. Pro mountaintop removal arguments are readily available through the published statements of coal officials and pro coal lobby groups. Other researchers, in cluding Rebecca Scott (2010), have conducted interviews with supporters of mountaintop removal. It can be difficult for those unfamiliar with the issue to understand how contentious it is in Appalachia. During my research, I (along with other activists) was subjected to verbal threats and abuse on numerous occasions from pro coal counter protestors, and on one occasion, had an air horn blown in my face at close range, temporarily impacting my hearing. Although I took care to not express anti mountaintop removal views at rallies, by being embedded with anti mountaintop removal activists, I was viewed by others as supporting the issue and therefore subjected to similar treatment. Such intimidation made reaching out to coal supporters difficult, if not even at times unwise. Given all of these conditions, I decided that secondary sources provided enough detail to effectively and fairly reproduce general categories of views in favor of mountaintop removal, though further research would enrich this data. I recorded and transcribed each interview. Through my own qualitative analysis, I selected insightful, representative, and interesting quotes from the interviews to report in this study. I categorized the contents of each quote and organized its place with in broader discussions of similar issues in the paper. Beyond individual quotes, interviews provided categorize their positions on different issues. My interview transcriptions accurately reflected the contents of the discussions, including pauses, repeated phrases, and linguistic fillers (such as ellipses to preserv e a more easily readable narrative flow. In the text, I have worked to preserve
307 sufficient context for each statement, introducing important details in the surrounding narrative, oal has been to reflect and interpret data, developing my argument out of the details that exist. For this reason and for my integrity as a researcher, I have presented the views of my research subjects as accurately and fairly as possible. If I have mis was accidental and not an attempt at misrepresentation or skewing data. The final method used for this project was participant observation, including attendance at public meetings related to mountaintop re moval, anti mountaintop removal rallies, and work with different activists groups in Appalachia (Bernard 2002:327). Specifically, I attended the following events: a benefit concert for the students of Marsh Fork Elementary School in Shakori Hills, North C arolina on June 19, 2009; a day long rally at Marsh Fork Elementary School on on the July 4 th weekends of 2009 and 2010; a Sludge Safety Project community meeting in Ansted, West Virginia on July 7, 2009; a tour of Kentucky mountaintop removal sites with Father John Rausch and Women in Service to Appalachia on July 12, 2009; a march and rally at the Tennessee Valley Authority headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee, orga nized by United Mountain Defense, on July 26, 2009; Mountain Justice summer training camp near Whitesburg, Kentucky, between May 27 and June 6, 2010; a June 8, 2010, protest at a Lexington, Kentucky, PNC bank organized by Kentucky Mountain Justice; and the Appalachia Rising march in Washington, D.C. on September 29, 2010. Along with these events, I stayed for extended periods at the Christians for the Mountains volunteer house in Ansted, West Virginia, in June 2009 and the United Mountain Defense house nea r Knoxville, Tennessee, in July 2010. In both places I lived with other activists and engaged in planning and strategizing as well as more
308 mundane activities like cooking and household decisions. Because I spent much of the summers of 2009 and 2010 drivi ng between events, interviews, and camp sites (where I generally stayed when not conducting research), I frequently provided rides for other activists. This provided me with many hours of informative conversations that impacted my overall understanding of the movement against mountaintop removal. I did not mechanically record any of my participant events, but I did take extensive notes in a journal. Depending upon the event, I generally did not take notes as the event unfolded, but reflected on the ev ent and my impressions in the journal afterwards. Because rallies and hearings are open to the public and comments were made in free public space, I took notes freely. In some instances, I conducted break out conversations with other participants. I alw ays revealed my project to anybody to whom I talked in this way, let them know that my research would appear in a dissertation and possible other publications, and gained verbal approval to reflect our conversation in my project. In these instances I did (even if I knew it), but applied a descriptive term in my notes. For example, I had a long description allowed me to remember the ind ividual and the context of the conversation, without ever identifying him or her by name. I do not use the names of individuals encountered in my research unless they agreed for me to do so on an informed consent form, and even in those cases, it is only the content of interviews that appears. The only exception to this is in the case of public speeches. In several instances, activists like Judy Bonds, Jim Lewis, Allen Johnson, and others made short speeches at rallies or other public events. In the dis sertation, if I cite any of these comments, I refer to the speaker by name and reference the date the comments were made.
309 Besides attending rallies and marching with anti mountaintop removal activists, I also lived and worked with activists, sometimes pu tting myself at risk of arrest. Working with more radical activists presents unique challenges for fieldwork. Many contemporary activist groups a vaguely defined set of conventions meant to protect other activist s. I always revealed my project and intentions with the activists with whom I worked, and this at times meant I was excluded from certain conversations. There were certain individuals, too, probably out of a general distrust of the growing number of repo rters, documentarians, and researchers in the field, who completely avoided me and seldom made any conversation. I only spoke with those who were comfortable with it, and left others alone. I can sympathize with the growing annoyance among activists towa rd researchers. One activist, for example, told me of several faux pas he had witnessed by other journalists and researchers, such as recording conversations or taking photographs without the approval of all present. I did not repeat those mistakes. My purpose for conducting participant observation was to get a sense of how the anti mountaintop removal movement unfolds on the ground, to experience the movement first hand, and to build relationships with and gain access to activists. For this reason, I did not need to know sensitive details, and I have intentionally not been exposed to any information that could be used against activists in a court of law. Observations from my time spent with activist groups appear in my research journal. Connecting arc hival, interview, and participant observation data has been necessary to understand the contemporary movement against mountaintop removal. Too many journalistic and scholarly accounts of the movement rely only on secondary sources. My intention was to pr ovide an unprecedented level of depth to research on this movement and accurately reflect the
310 importance of different religious values in the movement. Technically, I could have used secondary accounts from influential activists for this project, such as J udy Bonds and Larry Gibson; but such research would have failed to truly account for the diversity of beliefs among activists. I believe that my project has been made much stronger by the use of these different mixed methods, and I hope it will be useful to others scholars working on similar issues as well as the activists themselves, who so generously gave their time.
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338 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Joseph Witt was born in Conwa y, Arkansas. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and r eligion from Hendrix College in 2003, a nd then moved to the University of Florida to study in the newly formed program i n religion and nature. He earned his Master of Arts in religion from the University of Florida in 2006. Mr. Witt has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Religion at Mississippi State University, beginning in the fall of 2011.