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Facing South

The Real Obscenity of Mountaintop Removal

Number of minutes award-winning mountaintop removal mining activist Maria Gunnoe of Boone County, W.Va. was questioned by U.S. Capitol Police over a photo she submitted to a congressional panel showing a five-year-old girl bathing in mine-polluted water: 45

Date on which the questioning occurred, following Gunnoe's testimony during the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee's hearing on the Spruce No. 1 Mine, a proposed mountaintop removal mining operation in Logan County, W.Va. that's owned by Arch Coal: 6/1/2012

Number of times that Gunnoe previously testified before the committee, experiences she said led her to bring the photo in hopes of getting members to look her in the eye for a change: 3

Number of times committee chair Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) viewed the shot taken by photojournalist Katie Falkenberg before deciding to pull it from Gunnoe's presentation on advice of committee staff: 0

Amount Rep. Lamborn's campaign has received from mining interests since first running for Congress in 2006: $54,500

Rank of mining among the top industries contributing to Lamborn's campaign during the current election cycle: 4

Amount Lamborn's campaign has received from Spruce No. 1 mine owner Arch Coal thus far during the current election cycle: $2,000

Date on which the Environmental Protection Agency announced its veto of a permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine issued by the Army Corps of Engineers over concerns about the impact on streams: 1/13/2011

Miles of streams the Spruce No. 1 Mine would bury: more than 7

Number of public comments the EPA reviewed before making its decision: more than 50,000

Date on which the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia struck down the EPA's veto of the Spruce No. 1 Mine after a challenge by the coal company: 3/23/2012

Date on which the EPA filed paperwork indicating it plans to appeal the ruling, an action that Lamborn's committee criticizes as part of a "'magical' process to revoke an already issued coal permit": 5/11/2012

Minimum number of peer-reviewed scientific studies that have documented harmful human health effects from mountaintop removal mining: 21

Estimated number of people in whom mountaintop removal mining has caused cancer to date: 60,000

Percentage by which people living near mountaintop removal mining sites are more likely to die of cancer than those living elsewhere: 50

Percentage by which the rate of children born with birth defects in mountaintop removal mining areas exceeds that of other places: 42

(Click on figure to go to source.)

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Sue Sturgis

Sue Sturgis

Sue Sturgis is the Director and regular contributor to the Institute for Southern Study's online magazine, Facing South, with a focus on energy and environmental issues. Sue is the author or co-author of five Institute reports, including Faith in the Gulf (Aug/Sept 2008), Hurricane Katrina and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (January 2008) and Blueprint for Gulf Renewal (Aug/Sept 2007). Sue holds a Masters in Journalism from New York University.

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