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Late Night: Willie Nelson Sings America the Beautiful

Willie Nelson’s new video highlights the need to protect Appalachian communities from the devastating mining practice of mountaintop removal. The country music legend/land rights activist sings “America the Beautiful” to highlight opposition to giving coal companies free rein to blast the tops off mountains and dump dangerous pollution into surrounding streams and creeks.

Produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council, this video shows dynamiting operations in Appalachia and their ruinous consequences. Nelson’s song plays over scenes of wooded Appalachian mountains being exploded by coal companies with the resulting boulders, ash and sludge cascading down on to communities below.

A new House bill would actually make it easier, not harder, for coal companies to dump mining waste into mountain streams. The word is the HR Bill 2824 will hit this week.

HR 2824 would cement a George W. Bush-era rule change that opened up local streams to the pollution caused by the ravages of mountaintop mining. Under this practice, companies are blasting off entire mountaintops to get at the thin coal seams below. Companies filling local rivers and streams with blasted debris are sacrificing the safety and sanctity of countless communities in the region.

Mountaintop removal mining has already leveled more than 500 mountains, poisoned or buried over 2,000 miles of streams, and destroyed communities across Appalachia. Top scientists agree that the ecological damage of mountaintop removal is all but irreversible.

I’m sickened by the destruction of the Appalachians. My maternal family lived in Appalachia from the mid-1700s through the late 1800s. The streams and hills are home to beautiful American fish, animals and wildlife, and the people there are some of the poorest in the U.S. They struggle enough without fear of polluted groundwater, polluted streams, landslides and death. Also we’re shipping coal to Germany, WTF? Isn’t all the strip and blast mining about “US energy independence”?

While the damage may be irreversible, it doesn’t mean it should continue! Nature is an amazing thing, and stopping now mean less harm will be done

Please contact your Representatives and urge them to vote against HR Bill 2824.

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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.