Ashley Judd won't back down. Last week proponents of mountaintop removal hung a banner at a coal industry-sponsored golf tournament in eastern Kentucky, mocking the actress for her efforts to raise awareness of the environmental, economic and cultural damage being wrought by the world's worst coal mining. If they thought this would back her down, they're as clueless as they are classless.
Over the weekend, Ashley issued the following statement in response to the controversy:
I am proud to be standing with so many Eastern Kentuckians everywhere who are working to build a better future. There's so much potential today, right now, for Eastern Kentucky to proudly and bravely lead the way to a new energy economy in this country, with more jobs and more justice for the people of the Appalachian Mountains.
It is time for a community abused and exploited by outsiders who have never had our best interests at heart to rise and lead our entire country into a renewable energy future. We can and do have the hope and the vision to bring real, diverse jobs, money, health, and generativity that benefits the broader common welfare.
The cost of premature mortality related to coal mining in Eastern Kentucky was 3.1 to 6.2 billion, on average per year. Kentucky's annual net loss related to coal mining is 100 million. This must stop.
When I started speaking out about mountaintop removal, I expected to be attacked personally. I told my husband we should be prepared for it, because the coal companies are cunning, callous and greedy. They use people on the ground as their front, and pit us against one another. However, I know the derogatory and defamatory comments directed at me absolutely pale in comparison to what it is like for those who live every day in the war zone created by mountain top removal mining in our beloved communities and mountains.
Thus, rest assured, I will continue to speak out about the many reasons I’m so proud to be from Eastern Kentucky for so many generations, and also about the things I think can be better. I stand with those whose jobs are lost by increased mechanization, and those who are a terrified to lose the coal jobs they do have, because coal does not allow for other local economies. I stand with those whose land has been stolen from them, whose homes' foundations are cracked and whose water runs orange and black.
I stand with those who are sick from particulate dust and pervasive environmental toxicity related to MTR. I stand with those who grieve dead loves ones, killed on dangerous mining sites, by fly rock, by overloaded coal trucks, by social problems such as addiction related to the despair this mono economy wreaks.
I stand with those who grieve the 800 mountains gone forever, the 2,500 miles of stream irreversibly contaminated. I stand with those who believe we do not have to choose between mountains and jobs, our past and our future. I even stand with those who oppose me. I believe we can work together.
I look forward to the chance to have a real conversation, a civil conversation, as we retire the cynical and superficial coal company-created argument that we must choose between people and mountains.
That is simply false, fear based and fear mongering. The time has come for Appalachia to have a dynamic, diverse economic base that actually supports and perpetuates our inherent richness, rather than destroying and depressing it.