Resolutions of Faith
People of faith across the Appalachian region have often stated that mountaintop removal mining is a blight on God’s creation. More recently, this message has spread to the highest levels of several Christian denominations, which have passed resolutions expressly condemning mountaintop removal mining. Although these denominations may differ on matters of faith, they are united in their desire to stop mountaintop removal.
These six denominations are:
Please click on the denomination to view individual resolutions.
WHEREAS, coal and mineral mining corporations have removed entire mountain tops and filled valleys with unreclaimed debris in the Appalachian areas of West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Ohio; and
WHEREAS, mountain-top removal/valley-fill strip mining wounds the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of people in nearby communities; and
WHEREAS, mountain-top removal/valley-fill strip mining harms the economic and social livelihood of Applachain peoples; and
WHEREAS, mountain-top removal/valley-fill strip mining injures the environment and upsets the ecological balance by polluting streams and rivers, exacerbating soil erosion and displacing plant, animal and human life; and
WHEREAS, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has adopted a social statement, “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice;” and
WHEREAS, several ELCA synods within Appalachia have adopted resolutions condemning mountain-top removal/valley-fill strip mining; therefore be it
Resolved, that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, through its Division for Church in Society, convey its concerns about mountain-top removal/valley-fill strip mining, including a copy of this resolution, to the United States Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and appropriate congressional committees; and be it further
Resolved, that the Division for Church in Society encourage regions, synods, congregations, and members to contact national and state legislators and prompt them to enact legislation that promotes deep mining rather than strip mining; develops alternative energy resources that do not require cheap coal; and requires land reclamation that renews the environment and restores ecological balance; and be it further
Resolved, that the Division for Church in Society provide regions, synods, and congregations with current progress reports and timely direction for needed action that serves further abatement of mountain-top removal/valley-fill strip mining; and be it further
Resolved, to refer this resolution to the Division for Church in Society, and ask that the division prepare a report to the Evangelical Lutheran Coalition for Ministry in Appalachia for its spring 2001 assembly.
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 73rd General Convention of the Episcopal Church call on those present at this Convention to seek every opportunity to oppose environmental racism; and be it further
Resolved, That the Washington office track legislation seeking to eliminate the practice of locating polluting industries disproportionately near neighborhoods inhabited by people of color or the poor; and be it further
Resolved, That the Washington office monitor and issue policy alerts regarding the practice of mountain top removal and valley fill mining and other large scale mining operations that threaten the ecology and low income communities; and be it further
Resolved, That the Committee on Social Responsibilities in Investments review the environmental racism issue.
WHEREAS, mountaintop removal coal mining is extremely profitable to the coal companies who practice it; and
WHEREAS, a large part of its profitability is that fewer miners are required than in the usual traditional methods of coal mining, and
WHEREAS, the entire tops of West Virginia mountains have been removed at Kayford, Kanawha County, at Blair, Boone County, at Sharples, Logan County, and at Spruce River, Boone County, and at Wise County, Virginia, and mountaintop removal projects are proposed in Kentucky and Tennessee, and
WHEREAS, this removal of mountaintops has resulted in severe damage to homes of persons living in the nearby communities, along with damage to wells, the bombarding of their homes with ” blast rock,” and massive amounts of dust, and
WHEREAS, the millions and millions of tons of earth and rock removed from the tops of mountains are dumped into the valleys next to these mountains, totally destroying the springs and headwaters of streams in these valleys, along with all plant and animal life in them, and
WHEREAS, mountaintop removal mining, by destroying home places, is also destroying ancestral ground, sacred ground where generations after generations have lived, gone to church, married, made and birthed babies, taken family meals, slept in peace, died and been buried, and
WHEREAS, staff employees of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Natural Resources testified before the West Virginia Legislature in its 1998 session that the long-term effect of mountaintop removal is unstudied and unknown, and that it should by stopped until its long-term effects are known, and
WHEREAS, Psalm 24:1 firmly reminds us that “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; and the world and they that dwell therein,” and
WHEREAS, the sanctity and sacredness of human life and the natural environment should not be destroyed in the name of corporate profit,
Therefore, be it resolved, that the General Conference of The United Methodist Church, meeting in Cleveland, Ohio in May of the year 2000, implore those state and national governmental and regulatory agencies involved in mountaintop removal mining to halt this practice until scientific study of its long-term effect on human life and the natural environment has been accomplished.
WHEREAS, Jesus instructed Christians in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets”
WHEREAS, mountaintop removal is a mining technique that involves demolishing up to 700 feet of elevation of mountain to reach seams of coal and then dumping mining waste in valleys below
WHEREAS, this mining practice drastically alters the landscape in and around homes and communities in Appalachia
WHEREAS, this altered landscape has dramatically increased flooding in communities near these mining sites. For instance, the town of McRoberts, KY flooded five times in 18 months after mountaintop removal mining began operation above their town
WHEREAS, hundreds of lives have been lost and thousands of families have lost homes and property in recent floods and many of these families still live in emotional exile of their roots in temporary residence from which there seems to be no end in sight
WHEREAS, the quality of life for families near mining sites is decreased due to the threat of floods, continual blasting, dust, and falling rock and this situation has forced families to live in fear for their lives and property or to abandon their family home place and leave a lifetime of memories
WHEREAS, mountaintop removal coal mining contributes to a cycle of poverty that has created high unemployment, high illiteracy rates, record numbers of school closings and a lack of opportunity in areas where coal is produced by mountaintop removal
WHEREAS, mountaintop removal coal mining destroys both the beauty and productive capacity of the land thus eliminating future or alternative economic opportunities for the families of Appalachia WHEREAS, God instructs us to “â€¦not defile the land where you live and where I dwell” (Numbers 35:34)
WHEREAS, WE ARE INSTRUCTED IN James 4:17 to turn away from sin
WHEREAS, mountaintop removal coal mining has buried 724 miles of streams and destroyed up to a million acres of forested mountains in Appalachia
WHEREAS, streams, mountains, and forests damaged by mountaintop removal coal mining can never be restored to support the community of life that God created
WHEREAS, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the Catholic Conference of Eastern Kentucky and Salem Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have passed resolutions concerning mountain top mining
It is resolved that the 217th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA, urges state and federal agencies that regulate mining practices, as well as coal companies themselves, to abandon the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining and work to meet our nation’s energy needs in a manner that is just, sustainable and consistent with Christian values.
WHEREAS, the Appalachian mountain range is an irreplaceable environmental treasure in the heart of the United States;
WHEREAS, mountaintop removal coal mining is devastating the environment, economies, people, and culture in Appalachia;
WHEREAS, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that at least seven hundred miles of healthy streams have been buried by mountaintop removal coal mining;
WHEREAS, the exploitation of Appalachia unjustly enriches other regions in the United States by providing cheap coal and thus electricity at the expense of Appalachia;
WHEREAS, the availability of cheap coal thwarts energy conservation efforts because consumers, if required to pay the full and true costs of energy, would likely change their consumption habits; and
WHEREAS, passage of H. R. 2719, the Clean Water Protection Act, would amend the Clean Water Act in a way that should reduce the use of mountaintop removal coal mining because coal companies would no longer be permitted to dump waste into nearby streams and valleys;
THEREFORE be it resolved that in order to protect the Appalachian environment and its people and to promote environmentally aware energy consumption patterns, the delegates of the 2006 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association call upon our member congregations, our affiliate organizations, and individual Unitarian Universalists to:
Petition their congressional representatives to support passage of H. R. 2719, the Clean Water Protection Act;
Petition relevant federal and state agencies, such as the Office of Surface Mining, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the individual state permitting agencies, to suspend or refuse to issue permits for mountaintop removal coal mines;
Petition relevant agencies to restrict Appalachian mountaintop removal coal mining to daylight hours;
Petition relevant national and state departments of health and human services to engage in dialogue regarding the effects of environmental degradation on the health of affected communities;
Petition relevant agencies to levy and collect fines for mining and environmental violations;
Strengthen legislation and funding for restoration of lands affected by mountaintop removal coal mining; and
Raise awareness that the impact of the choice of coal mining techniques on local communities is a national and not a regional issue.
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; and the world and they that dwell therein. – Psalm 24:1
The Steering Committee of Quaker Earthcare Witness is writing to you with a concern for the mining technique known as mountain top removal. Mountain top removal involves demolishing up to 700 feet of mountain elevation, by clear cutting native forests and using explosives, to reach seams of coal or minerals and then dumping the land, vegetation and mining waste into the valleys below, in order to minimize waste disposal costs. Coal and mineral industries have removed entire mountain tops and filled valleys with unreclaimed debris in the mountains of the Southern Appalachians and the Southwest. The removal of mountain tops has resulted in:
- dumping of millions of tons of earth and rock into the valleys next to these former mountains, totally destroying the springs and headwaters of streams in these valleys, wildlife habitat, along with all plant and animal life (including farm animals) in them
- dramatically increased flooding in communities near these mining sites where hundreds of lives have been lost and thousands of families have lost homes and property in floods
- the destruction of streams, mountains and forests that can never be restored to their original state
- blasting, coal dust, poisoned drinking water, and increased flooding dramatically reduce the value of homes, businesses and farms
- severe damage to wells and groundwater contamination
- destroyed homes, ancestral farms, and sacred ground
- wounds to the physical, emotional, economic, social and spiritual well-being of people in nearby communities
- the perpetuation of the cycle of poverty that has created high unemployment, high illiteracy rates, and record number of school closings
- injuries to the environment and upsets to the ecological balance because of polluted streams and rivers, exacerbated soil erosion and displacement of plant, animal and human life.
Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) believes that we are called to live in right relationship with all Creation and that Creation should be respected, protected, and held in reverence. QEW believes that the human aspirations for peace and justice depend upon restoring the Earth’s ecological integrity.
In accordance with these beliefs QEW, through BeFriending Creation, will encourage all Yearly and Monthly Meetings to contact federal legislators to urge them to:
- Enact legislation that promotes development of alternative energy resources that are sustainable and do not require the use of coal
- Protect the rivers and streams in areas where there is mountain top removal mining by enacting the Clean Water Restoration Act, which will restore the original intent of the Clean Water Act by preventing disposal of mining waste material in streams.
In addition, QEW encourages all Yearly and Monthly Meetings to contact their state legislators and urge them to:
- Enact legislation that promotes development of alternative energy resources that are sustainable and do not require the use of coal
- In states where industries mine coal and ore, enact legislation that prohibits mountaintop top removal. These states include but are not limited to Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and North Carolina.