In the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia & Tennessee, there is a ticking time-bomb that threatens a rural population with enormous tragedy as a result of mountaintop removal coal mining.

Appalachian Treasures, a free multi-media presentation on mountaintop removal and its critical social & environmental justice impacts, will be featured at a free open-to-the-public program on Thursday, Oct. 26 at 4 p.m. in the Maas Center conference room.

Although Appalachia may seem far from Michigan, it is deeply tied to the region. Not only does much of the electricity powering our homes and businesses come from Appalachian coal, but the region's history, music, and famed self-reliance remain a great influence in American culture.

As energy issues become increasingly pressing in America, it is crucial to realize how our neighbors in Appalachia suffer to supply the energy needs of the rest of the nation and to seek alternatives that do not destroy communities and cultures.

In mountaintop removal mining, big coal companies literally blast apart the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, removing up to 1000 feet of elevation to reach seams of coal. The dirt and rock that used to be the mountain are dumped into adjacent valleys, burying Appalachia's clear mountain streams.

Mountaintop removal leaves behind vast barren wastelands too remote to be viable for development and too disturbing in appearance to support a tourism economy like those flourishing in the non-coal regions of Appalachia. To date, mountaintop removal mining has flattened at least a million acres across the Appalachian coalfields. 'Valley fills', the term for the mining waste dumped into adjacent valleys, have already buried 1,200 miles of Appalachian streams and more are buried every day.

The Appalachian Treasures project is focused on ending this particular form of coal mining. Over the course of years working with Appalachian coalfield residents, we realized that mountaintop removal will only continue if the American people remain unaware that such an unjust, destructive, and short-sighted enterprise is happening on our soil. Most coalfield communities are rural and isolated. In states where big coal companies hold overwhelming political power, the opposition of coalfield citizens alone is not enough to stop mountain top removal.

The Appalachian Treasures outreach tours are focused on talking with people in districts of federal Congressional Representatives in key positions to help pass the Clean Water Protection Act (HR 2719). The CWPA is a bill in Congress that will outlaw filling streams with the rock & dirt from these enormous coal mines & sharply curtail mountain top removal mining.