Mountains of Injustice
Social and Environmental Justice in Appalachia
Publication Year: 2011
Research in environmental justice reveals that low-income and minority neighborhoods in our nation’s cities are often the preferred sites for landfills, power plants, and polluting factories. Those who live in these sacrifice zones are forced to shoulder the burden of harmful environmental effects so that others can prosper. Mountains of Injustice broadens the discussion from the city to the country by focusing on the legacy of disproportionate environmental health impacts on communities in the Appalachian region, where the costs of cheap energy and cheap goods are actually quite high. Through compelling stories and interviews with people who are fighting for environmental justice, Mountains of Injustice contributes to the ongoing debate over how to equitably distribute the long-term environmental costs and consequences of economic development.
Published by: Ohio University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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On September 27, 2010, several thousand protesters marched in Washington, D.C., demanding an end to the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining. Ranging in age from twelve to seventy-two, most of the marchers were from the Appalachian region, and many came directly from the communities directly impacted by the practice. ...
Introduction: Environmental Justice and Appalachia
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On December 22, 2008, an earth dam at a waste retention pond in Roane County, Tennessee, broke, sending more than 1.1 billion gallons of coal fly ash slurry into nearby streams, flooding hundreds of acres, and damaging numerous homes and other structures. The slurry—a by-product of the burning of coal...
Part 1: Perspectives
1. The Theoretical Roots and Sociology of Environmental Justice in Appalachia
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A romantic view of Appalachia most likely conjures up images of rolling and forested foothills that give rise to the ancient mountains that form the backbone of the region. One might think about abundant wildlife, spring wildflowers, fall foliage, and numerous rivers and streams that crisscross the landscape, providing life, scenic beauty...
2. A Legacy of Extraction: Ethics in the Energy Landscape of Appalachia
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When European Americans first set foot in Appalachia, they discovered a land rich in natural resources. They also observed the region’s American Indian occupants taking full advantage of this great natural abundance. One resource they depended on was the gooey tar that seeped through cracks in the earth in what is today northwestern Pennsylvania. ...
3. Pollution or Poverty The Dilemma of Industry in Appalachia
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Discussions about environmental justice in Appalachia often focus on resource extraction, in particular coal mining and its legacy of contamination. However, there is general consensus among those who study Appalachia that residents of the region bear substantial environmental burdens beyond those associated with coal mining, including heavy industry and waste management. ...
Part 2: Citizen Action
4. “We Mean to Stop Them, One Way or Another”Coal, Power, and the Fight against Strip Mining in Appalachia
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Despite a wealth of mineral resources, the people of southern Appalachia are by most measures poor. For over a century now, miners have extracted coal from bountiful reserves and loaded it on train cars to be used somewhere else, in factories or at electric utilities typically beyond the region, with little in the way of a fair return. ...
5. Commons Environmentalism Mobilized The Western North Carolina Alliance and the Cut the Clearcutting! Campaign
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"The people have spoken with a loud voice," Mary Kelly declared as she and other Western North Carolina Alliance activists delivered an enormous petition to the U.S. Forest Service’s Asheville office on Cut the Clearcutting! Day in 1989. “Wow,” responded Forest Supervisor Bjorn Dahl, staring at the giant document. ...
6. Injustice in the Handling of Nuclear Weapons Waste The Case of David Witherspoon, Inc.
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In the fall of 1985, Dorothy Hunley died of osteogenic sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Her doctor publicly expressed his opinion that her cancer was the result of occupational exposure to radiation.1 For over a decade, she had worked for David Witherspoon, Inc., a scrap metal dealer with a history of buying and processing radioactive materials...
Part 3: In Their Own Words
7. Housewives from Hell Perspectives on Environmental Justice and Facility Siting
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Mothers will do whatever it takes to protect their children and most won’t stand for unfair treatment in any aspect of their children’s lives. The combination of protectionism and demand for justice makes women in general, and mothers in specific, a group of environmental activists to reckon with. ...
8. Stories about Mountaintop Removal in the Appalachian Coalfields
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Appalachian residents know all too well the injustice of mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining. Many people living close to these mining sites are frustrated and angry about the damage inflicted on their homes, communities, and environment.1 They blame the coal companies, the government, the courts, and the media for thirty years...
Afterword: An American Sacrifice Zone
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The American relationship with nature is fragmented and divided against itself, and that division has shaped the land. Americans invented the ideal of wilderness, land forever protected against roads, buildings, and engines. Our laws consecrate more than a hundred million acres to that ideal, most of it in the West...
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Publication Year: 2011