Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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February 11, 2010

Mattea decries mountaintop; calls for 'civil discourse'

By RONNIE ELLIS — Grammy winning music star Kathy Mattea told about 600 who gathered on the state capitol Thursday in 25 degree cold to protest the mining practice known as mountaintop removal “there is a way to move toward civil discourse” on issues of coal.

Mattea grew up in West Virginia, the granddaughter of coal miners. Her new CD “Coal” pays tribute to “my place and my people.” She told the shivering but enthusiastic crowd Appalachia is “a place I know and it is a place that is part of me.” Thursday she spoke to those who came for the annual “I Love Mountains Day” at the capitol, sponsored by Kentuckians for the Commonwealth as an opportunity to lobby the mostly coal-friendly state legislature and governor.

But Mattea told them both sides need to work together, to lower the heat.



“We are not enemies – we are brothers and sisters in conflict,” Mattea said of those who vigorously defend coal and those – sometimes neighbors of the other side of the argument – who just as vociferously denounce coal, especially the extraction of it through surface mining and mountaintop removal. Not that there was much question of how Mattea views the practice which she said causes her “a deep ache” and which she characterized as “a covert war to decide who holds the power and what are our values.”

But she said it’s clear that war causes “deep harm on both sides of the conflict.” She said the time has come for both sides “to sit still and pen our hearts and feel the shared anguish.” Mattea spoke of miners and their families – “Everyone wants a way to provide for their family” – but also for those whose property, drinking water, and quality of life are damaged by mining – “Everyone wants to feel save where they live.” But, she went on, people living next to strip mines live in a “personal hell” and “black water runs from the faucets.”

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