Paul (pictured above with a partial slide of an MTR site) explained that when his dad was a union coal miner, about 125,000 miners produced 150 million tons of coal annually; now the same tonnage is produced by 10,000 men (mostly men) and machines called draglines so big you could fly a small plane under one. (Robert Kennedy Jr. did this in a documentary I saw, I think it was The Last Mountain.)
Larry founded Keeper of the Mountains Foundation to carry the work forward; it brings hundreds of people to the mountaintop every year to see the destruction first-hand and sends speakers nationwide to spread the word, including Paul and Elise. They spoke to the Environmental Law Society at Quinnipiac University, to several classes at Fairfield University and Southern CT State University, and to a small gathering at the Unitarian Society in Hamden. Whether big or small, Paul and Elise seemed delighted with all their encounters, inspiring some to take up the issue at home and/or visit West Virginia to see the destruction first-hand.
As coal use drops in the U.S. (down from generating 50 percent of electricity to the mid-high-30s), coal companies are busy exporting as much as they can, mostly to Asia. MTR continues unabated, and more permits are being filed all the time.
Click here for an excerpt of their QU talk; click here for one of several interviews I did with Larry before his death. Both ran on Between the Lines.
Among his other accomplishments, Paul built his own small solar house off the grid, just to show that West Virginians don’t have to depend on King Coal, as the industry and the state’s politicians always insist. He invited me to visit him next time I go there.