Coal Tattoo

‘Appalachia Rising’ rallies in Washington, D.C.

Law enforcement stand ready as protesters sit in front of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 27, 2010, during a demonstration calling for the end of mountaintop removal for mining. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Here’s the latest Associated Press report on Appalachian Rising:

By Frederic J. Frommer

WASHINGTON — Around 100 people have been arrested outside the White House while protesting against mountaintop removal mining.

The protesters were arrested Monday after refusing orders from U.S. Park Police to leave the sidewalk outside the White House. They staged a rally at nearby Freedom Plaza earlier in the day.

The crowd of mostly youthful ralliers carried signs like “Blowing Up Mountains for Coal Poisons People” and “Mountain ecosystems won’t grow back.” Some carried small white crosses adorned with messages such as “water pollution” and “corporate greed.”

In mountaintop removal mining, forests are clear-cut, explosives blast apart the rock, and machines scoop out exposed coal. The earth left behind is dumped into valleys, often covering intermittent streams.

Protesters, including a man on stilts called “Uncle Scam” gather in Washington, Monday, Sept. 27, 2010, during a demonstration callig for the end of mountaintop removal for mining. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Coal operators say it’s the most efficient way to reach some reserves, supports tens of thousands of jobs and provides coal for electric power plants across much of the South and East. They staged their own pro-mountaintop mining rally here two weeks ago

The Environmental Protection Agency has taken steps to rein in mountaintop removal mining, but the protesters Monday called for a total ban.

“You cannot regulate destruction,” organizer Maria Gunnoe told the crowd at Freedom Plaza, a few blocks from the White House.

The ralliers had a hippie, counterculture vibe, with some sporting face piercings and many of the young men bearded. Some stood in circles holding hands, and folk music played from the stage.

Jeremy Cherson, a senior at American University in Washington, had a mandolin around his neck and held a carrot and stick in his hand. He said the carrot was a plea for clean energy and the stick was actions like Monday’s rally. He said he skipped a class on critical social thought to attend the rally.

“My professor said that was fine — this is critical and social,” he said.

Joe Stanley, 60, a retired coal miner from Prichard, W. Va., said he wasn’t against coal. He said the country couldn’t get off coal even if it had a plan — “and we don’t have a plan. But we can take problems out of coal. Mountaintop mining is too high a price to pay.”