Cross-posted from RAN’s Understory
“They tell us we’re collateral damage. Well, I ain’t collateral damage. I am somebody. My name is Larry Gibson.”
Politics in West Virginia always feel more real to me. Energy and economic policies have allowed coal companies to turn the state into a national sacrifice zone. Mountains are flattened by a surface mining technique called mountaintop removal, which buries rivers and streams in debris and poisons the ground water with the waste. Appalachians that fight back or speak out are often ostracized and viciously attacked by pro-coal partisans while officials often look away or side with industry. My friend Larry Gibson lived that reality more than most.
Yesterday, after decades of fighting Big Coal, Larry passed away on Kayford Mountain.
The first time I met Larry was like the first time lots of other people met Larry over the years. It was at his family home on Kayford Mountain. The “family home” was a small, simple house. The 54 acre property is surrounded by one of the largest mine sites in the state. When you look at the mine site from Larry’s property line, you see moonscape. When you look at aerial photos of it, you see an island of green surrounded by moonscape.