As dawn approached this morning, activists stood on an ancient Appalachian mountain in a dramatic protest against mountain top mining. They claim this is the first time a mountain has been taken over in the struggle to protect the Appalachian Mountains from the devastating practices of mountain top mining.
Zeb Mountain is located above Elk Valley in Campbell County, Tenn. just 40 miles north of Knoxville, TN. Mountain top mining practices involve removing the tops and sides off mountains with explosives and heavy equipment to access thin seams of coal.
The activists are blockading National Coal's strip mine in scenic Campbell County, Tennessee to halt what they call the destruction of Zeb Mountain.
The activists are affiliated with MountainJusticeSummer.org and Katuah Earth First!
They say they are using strictly non-violent tactics to bring attention to the modern atrocity of mountain top mining.
Individuals claim to be blockading the entrance to the mine by locking themselves to a car on the haul road and sitting in a tripod to prevent access to the mine. Other activists have locked themselves to drilling equipment or using their bodies to create a giant "no blast" zone across the mountain.
These tactics are being used because strip mining companies are not allowed to use explosives when unauthorized people are nearby.
The group claims that Tennessee regulators are not doing enough to protect the environment from destructive mining practices.
"We stand for the preservation of the mountains, water, forests, and communities of Appalachia" said Maria Johnson of Kingsport, TN.
"These mountains are our homes, and they are being stolen and destroyed by companies like National Coal and this must be stopped. To put my body between the mountain and the companies' machines may be the only way to stop them" said Nable Wallin of Asheville, NC.
"We are reclaiming Appalachia. We are calling on Governor Bredesen to do the same by enforcing Tennessee's water quality laws and ban mountain top mining" said Mere Burton, perched upon a tripod in the middle of the road on Zeb Mountain.
The group claims that hourly updates, including photos and quotes will be made available at www.MountainJusticeSummer.org