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Allen Hershkowitz’s Blog

Willie Nelson's America the Beautiful Video Against Mountaintop Removal Mining

Allen Hershkowitz

Posted March 24, 2014

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NRDC released a video yesterday supported by Willie Nelson’s iconic song America the Beautiful which Willie donated for use in order to draw attention to the scourge of mountaintop removal coal mining that continues to ravish Appalachian communities. This cause needs Willie’s voice now more than ever, a voice that Emmylou Harris called “The Voice of America.” The video is being re-released because today the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a bill that would make it even easier to dump the tons of toxic waste and debris from these mountaintop mining operations into Appalachian streams. (You can take action to stop the bill here.)

Willie’s efforts to save Appalachia and other iconic American landscapes underscores his patriotic commitment to so many important community preservation causes. He is arguably the single most visible advocate in the nation for bio-based transportation fuels, urging us all to shift away from our addiction to petroleum. He’s the nation’s fiercest advocate for local family farms, an animal rights advocate and a passionate and influential spokesperson for sustainable communities more generally.

Willie Nelson is widely recognized as an American icon. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993, and he received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998. In 2011 he was inducted to the National Agricultural Hall of Fame, for his labor in Farm Aid and other fund raisers to benefit farmers. In 2003 Texas Governor Rick Perry established the Texas Music Project, the state's official music charity, and Willie was named Honorary Chairman of the Advisory Board of the project.

And Willie Nelson is a passionate advocate against mountaintop removal coal mining. Previously he lent his rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin in the Wind” to the soundtrack of the movie Coal Country. The release today by NRDC is Willie’s first video to focus on mountaintop removal coal mining.

Scientists, environmental groups, the country music industry, the Southern Baptist Church, the Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church have all taken official positions against mountaintop removal coal mining, and for good reason: it is the most destructive form of coal mining on Earth. And it is taking place in some of the most biologically diverse temperate forestland on Earth, threatening one of the universe’s rarest creations, and some of our most vulnerable citizens and children.

And the practice is also adversely affecting human health. According to a peer reviewed scientific study published in Science Magazine by a distinguished group of researchers from diverse fields, including several members of the National Academy of Sciences:

“The scientific evidence of the severe environmental and human impacts from mountaintop mining is strong and irrefutable. Its impacts are pervasive and long lasting and there is no evidence that any mitigation practices successfully reverse the damage it causes.”

And yet, mountaintop removal goes on, day after day.

Willie Nelson’s America the Beautiful video against mountaintop removal coal mining will not by itself stop the practice, but it does lend another powerful, honorable and notable voice to the struggle against it, urging regulators and coal companies to stop destroying what is most beautiful and sacred about our country in order to acquire the dirtiest fossil fuel.

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Comments (Add yours)

Bo WebbMar 25 2014 03:50 PM

Great to see NRDC opposing MTR, excellent video. There is something we can all do, and that is to support legislation that protects human health in MTR communities. The ACHE Act HR526 does that. Please call your representative and ask them, No, demand, that they support and co-sponsor the Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act (ACHE Act). You can take action here by typing your zip code to contact your representatives.

Matt CowanMay 25 2014 09:00 AM

Gi day glad to see people take up the fight , not only through protest but with film clips and, music I take my hat of to the to the people and all those behind the scene to make the public aware keep up he good work. Reminds me of Ewen Mc Coll back in Scotland Song
Its illegal to knock of your misses
Or to poison your old mans tea
But to poison the rivers the skies and the seas
And to poison the mind of a nation with lies
As long as its done in the name of free enterprise
Is proper and perfectly legal

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