Donna O'Donnell Figurski's Blog

It's All About Me!

Say It Ain’t So #1 Where Have All the Mountains Gone?

We all rely on electricity. We’ve become accustomed to its convenience. Don’t you love to read in bed at night with a little bed lamp shining on the words trailing across the pages before your eyelids become too heavy and you drop off to sleep? Don’t you like your cozy home with the heater pushing warm air out from the vents to take the chill off the cold nights? That cool air rushing from the air conditioner feels, oh so good, on blistery, hot, summer days. Don’t you agree?

Electricity! It’s all because of electricity. That electricity runs your refrigerator, your microwave, your radio and television, if you happen to have one, (I don’t!).  It runs your computer too – the one you are using to read this blog post. (I admit – I can not live without my computer – ask anyone.) You can even get cars that run on electricity! How progressive is that! Electricity! It’s everywhere!

But, have you ever thought how electricity is made? I don’t mean how they put wires together to form a current. I don’t mean what magical operation they do inside electrical plants to generate the electricity that flows from the wires on the electrical poles outside your home to the switch on your wall, which when flicked, instantly ignites your electric fireplace. I mean – like – where does electricity come from?

Most comes from coal – a natural resource – a non-renewable, natural resource found inside our Earth. How convenient! All we have to do is grab our picks and shovels, our backhoes and earth-moving machines … like bulldozers and steam shovels and dump trucks and go find us some … coal. We can find it deep below the crust of the earth, miles towards its center – in dark, dusty mines. Or if climbing into the bowels of the earth is not your thing – maybe you’re a bit squeamish or claustrophobic, (like me) you can use a little dynamite and blast it right out of the earth. You can strip a mountain top of its forests – in minutes. I mean … really blast the whole mountain top off and find tons of coal – for our electricity. You can denude the forest of its trees. You can kill … or banish the native animals, the squirrels, the skunks, the deer, or the bear, from their natural homes. You can poison the rivers and the streams with the residue of the blasting process, leaving behind heavy metals like mercury and arsenic. The fish don’t like that. That same tainted water seeps into the wells – the same wells that provide washing-up and drinking water. You can even cause folks, whole communities of folk, to flee their homes – homes their granddaddy’s built – homes they have lived in for generations, to escape the toxic air from the blasting dust that is left behind a mountain top removal blasting site. That blasting dust is very likely responsible for an increase in birth defects, cancer, and other debilitating health ailments for the folks living in the nearby areas.

Jennifer Hall-Massey blames tainted water for six brain tumors, which took the lives of her neighbors in her small community of Prenter, West Virginia in the Coal River region. One life lost was her twenty-nine-year-old brother. Prenter boasts a whopping population of only 2,581 as recorded in 2000. Coincidence!? If Shakespeare’s Marcellus from Hamlet lived here, he might say with flourish, “Something is rotten in the state of Prenter.” He’d probably be right!

If you live anywhere near Coal River Mountain located in southern West Virginia in the Appalachian Mountains, this is probably reality for you – a harsh, bitter reality. You thought you lived in God’s country amid the lush burgeoning forests, the freer than free wildlife surrounding you on your land and in your skies. You thought your little corner of the world was safe … your trees glorious in their majesty, your air sweet as a new morning’s dew. But you were wrong!

Their steam shovels and bulldozers came. They raped your land. They stripped your beautiful mountains of the coal sleeping peacefully beneath the forest floor. They left behind ugly, bare-naked mountain tops. For what? For electricity!

Now we all know we need electricity. We need its power to run our heaters and air conditioners, to power our refrigerators, microwaves,  radios, and televisions. We need it to run our computers. Oh yes, I most definitely need it for my computer. But do we need coal to generate electricity? No! A resounding … NO! Leave the Earth alone!

We can use wind – wind generated by windmills placed strategically on mountain tops. Wind is free. It is harmless (when it is not hurricane or tornado levels). Wind can generate enough energy to power our homes, schools, offices, and shopping malls. It is a clean energy. It is less costly and I guarantee it will not pillage our earth of its valuable non-renewable natural resources, which surely is indicated by its name – can not be replaced. Once coal is used up – it is gone. We don’t even know the damage we are doing to the earth by stealing it from its core. The damage we may be causing future generations.

Before it is too late, we must make a change. We must stop raping our land. Before it’s too late – before Peter, Paul, and Mary (Mary now deceased) have to add a new verse to their famous song about flowers. Maybe they will call it, Where Have All the Mountains Gone. We must make a change. It’s not too late, but it will be too late, if we don’t act soon. We all need to become aware. We need to take responsibility. Help! We need to save our world – Now!

For more information on this topic, I beg you to see the documentary, The Last Mountain, directed by Bill Haney and heavily endorsed by environmentalist, Bobby Kennedy Jr.

Other very informative sites are listed below..

Coal River Mountain Watch

Coal River Mountains Watch: Mountain Top Removal

Environmental Problems with Coal, Oil, and Gas

(Clip Art compliments of Bing. )


December 12, 2011 - Posted by | Say It Ain't So! | , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. You are getting political!! Go Mom!

    Comment by Growing Flowers | December 12, 2011 | Reply

  2. Thanks, Kier,

    We see a lot of documentaries. They are usually well done and impart important information. They fire me up and then life goes on and nothing comes of it. I am pretty sure this is the way of many people.

    But I don’t want their messages to go away. I want to be a voice. So I created this new social awareness category on my blog. If only one person reads it and is affected by my words, and maybe passes them on to someone else who then passes them on … well, then, my work will have been worth every word.

    Love, Mom

    Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | December 12, 2011 | Reply

  3. Thanks, Donna, for taking a stand and becoming another voice in this worldwide struggle against the Appalachian Apocalypse. My friends, my family and my colleagues at Coal River Mountain Watch appreciate you insisting on addressing the realities of the sacrifices we Appalachian folk have foisted upon us by a merciless, remorseless industry.

    It’s hard to imagine, but there’s a direct line from peoples’ wall sockets and lightswitches to a human rights catastrophe going on in their very own country.

    Again, thanks, and keeping speaking your truth!

    Comment by Bob Kincaid | December 12, 2011 | Reply

    • Bob Kincaid,

      Thank you for responding to my post. What’s happening at Coal River Mountain is wrong. (There are a lot of things going on around our nation that are wrong.) I hope that I can help your cause with my words. Stay strong.


      Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | December 13, 2011 | Reply

  4. Thank you Donna.

    What is happening in the Coal River Valley is more than wrong. It is anti-American, anti-democracy. This is a perfect example of powerful rich elitist willing to engage in an endeavor that is killing innocent people in order to increase their own wealth. If we as caring people continue to stand aside and watch this genocide (and it is genocide) then we are well on our way to handing our just rights and freedom over to the same sociopathic mindset that is bombing and poisoning our Appalachian communities.

    Bo Webb
    Coal River Valley, WV

    Comment by Bo Webb | December 13, 2011 | Reply

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