by Tricia Shapiro
Mountaintop removal (MTR) does exactly what it says: A mountaintop is stripped of trees, blown to bits with explosives, then pushed aside by giant equipment-all to expose a layer of coal to be mined. In recent years, local people fighting against MTR's destruction of their homes in West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia have invited volunteers from outside Appalachia's coalfields to help them bring national attention to this shameful practice, and abolish it. Since the Mountain Justice campaign began in 2005, dozens of local coalfield residents, students, Earth Firsters, and others have been arrested in nonviolent protest actions against MTR.
"This on-the-ground, insider report of a grassroots effort to end mountaintop removal in Appalachia is a fascinating account of why building solidarity across geographic, age, class, and philosophical lines in such struggles is so important but so hard. Shapiro allows the participants in this battle to speak for themselves about their motivations, hopes, and fears. And it is from these voices that we come to understand that their fight is our fight too."—Steve Fisher, editor, Fighting Back in Appalachia: Traditions of Resistance and Change
"In Mountain Justice Tricia Shapiro has told with great clarity and understanding the story of the heroic efforts of the people of Appalachia to save their mountains, streams, and communities from the destruction and savageness of mountaintop removal mining. Her account of the years of resistance to mountaintop removal by the courageous women, men, and children who have risked their lives on a daily basis is a story that must be heard all across America. Tricia Shapiro has told us the heart of the matter—the dignity, the strength, the loving kindness of the folk who have given all that they have to save a precious and enduring place on the Earth."—Jack Spadaro, whistleblower and former director of the National Mine Safety and Health Academy
Tricia Shapiro has been closely following and writing about efforts to end large-scale strip mining for coal in Appalachia since 2004. She lives on a remote mountain homestead in western North Carolina, near the Tennessee border.