Sunday, May 30, 2010

Environmentalists Roll Out National Ad Targeting Mountaintop Coal Mining

When most of us flip on the lights (or type into our computers, for that matter), we aren’t thinking about how those simple acts might affect those living in coal country. Yet nearly half of the country’s electricity is generated by coal, and increasingly that coal is being extracted not by removing the coal from the earth, but by removing the earth from the coal.

In Appalachia, that means blowing the tops off mountains to get at the coal seams inside — a process that cuts company costs, but also ravages neighboring communities, poisoning wells and waterways, contaminating air, killing off wildlife and flooding nearby homes. Leading scientists say the effects are irreversible.

This week, a coalition of Appalachian environmentalists launched a campaign they hope will mitigate the disconnect between the electricity Americans use and the devastating processes that keep it so cheap, unveiling a national TV ad that could bring mountaintop removal into living rooms nationwide. The idea is simple: If consumers knew they were contributing to the destruction of the country’s oldest mountains, perhaps they would demand an end to the practice.

For effect, the ad borrows from one of the most famous commercials in the history of television: Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 “Daisy Girl” spot, in which a young girl plucking flower petals looks up to see a nuclear explosion in the distance. In the MTR version, of course, the nuclear blast is replaced by the elimination of an Appalachian peak.

“These are the stakes,” the narrator says. “We can allow the land, water and people of Appalachia to be sacrificed. Or end mountaintop removal coal mining.”

If the explosions aren’t enough to captivate interest, the coalition has brought on Ashley Judd, a longtime MTR critic, as the narrator.

Washington Independent, "Environmentalists Roll Out National Ad Targeting Mountaintop Coal Mining", accessed May 26, 2010

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