Renowned agrarian and author Wendell Berry joined other environmental activists in a protest against mountain top removal by sleeping outside the Governor’s office at the Kentucky Capitol Building on Friday.
According to Kentucky.com, “the group set up camp in Beshear’s outer office around 10 a.m. Friday, demanding that Beshear withdraw from a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and accept a longstanding invitation to view the effects of mountaintop-removal mining in Eastern Kentucky.”
A spokesperson for Gov. Steve Beshear’s office said the group would be allowed to stay all weekend because they didn’t appear to be breaking any laws.
“After a more than 20-minute impromptu and sometimes pointed discussion, Beshear said he would like to continue the conversation but acknowledged that the two sides may have to “agree to disagree” on certain issues.”
Dissatisfied with the results of the meeting, Berry, author Silas House, and members of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, former miners, and Eastern Kentucky residents, said they would stay in the Capitol at least until Monday, when the annual “I Love Mountains” rally is held in Frankfort–even at the risk of arrest.
The EPA made history when it decided to veto the mining permit of the largest mountain top removal operation in West Virginia last month. Unfortunately, reports from residents that live around the Spruce No. 1 mine say that mining operations have continued unabated despite the veto.
West Virginia, like Kentucky, quickly filed suit against the EPA for its anti-mountain top removal regulations.
The Kentucky group awoke refreshed and resolved in their purpose on Saturday morning.
“We want, of course, to see these abuses of land and people and the water supply stopped,” Berry, told the Lexington Herald-Leader. The nationally lauded poet, novelist and essayist, said he slept well.
Spending a night on the rough carpet of the Capitol building did yield the group a small victory: the Governor agreed to visit some of their homes in Eastern Kentucky that have been damaged by mountaintop mining.
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Image Credit: Flickr - Kentuckians For The Commonwealth