Group Prays To Stop Mountaintop Coal Mining - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Group Prays To Stop Mountaintop Coal Mining

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By Adam Ghassemi

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It may look and sound like any service, but a group that met on a random Tuesday night represents nearly all denominations ended 40 days of praying for the same thing.

"The way we love the creator of the universe is to love the creation," said Pastor Ryan Bennett says the environment may not be the first thing you'd think from a pew, but here it's a grassroots issue firmly planted in faith. "It's sort of like a David and Goliath sort of scenario. We're volunteers. We don't know what we're doing, but we believe that God is with us."

In their eyes, Goliath is the mining companies that shave off mountaintops across the Appalachians to mine for coal. They say the process destroys natural beauty and the environment for people who live around them.

"People in the coal fields and people who live downstream from a lot of these sites are suffering major health effects from this," said Pat Hudson the director of Lindquist Environmental Appalachian Fellowship, or LEAF.

The turnout Tuesday night at downtown Nashville's Christ Church Cathedral seemed small, but was just one of many groups praying across the state.

"This is the time when we're still can control it and keep what's happened in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky and these other places from happening in Tennessee," Bennett said.

They say they hope lawmakers understand they aren't anti-mining, but anti anything that changes Tennessee from the way it's supposed to be. "We hope that our elected officials here that concern and understand that it's a very, very deep issue for many Christians," Hudson went on to say.

A representative from Knoxville-based Tennessee Mining Association, or TMA, provided the following statement:

"It is my opinion that the prayer service is misguided. Their prayers should be directed at the guidance of the country in these difficult economic times and for the safety of the coal miners that provide for over 50% of the energy consumed by this country. Coal miners have carried the nation's energy needs on their backs for decades, provided the coal for two world wars, providing the coal for steel generation and economic growth and leading us through the Cold War years. Coal provides cheap energy which benefits every American when they turn on their lights, access the internet, charge their electric automobiles, etc. In these tough economic times when many citizens, especially senior citizens, are making critical decisions about paying for heating bills or critical medications, environmental activists are raising the costs for energy on everybody. The mining that occurs today in the Tennessee coal fields is around 90% re-mining which means that dangerous high walls and old deep mine openings are reclaimed. It is a shame that efforts are directed at eliminating these gains. These misguided efforts affect each and every one of us. Remember, if you can't grow it, you have to mine it. Mining is critical to the growth of this nation and its security." - Tim Slone, Chairman, Tennessee Mining Association 

The group is pushing the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act that would ban mountain-top coal mining on peaks above two-thousand feet. They say to date more than 500 mountaintops have been mined across the Appalachians.



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