AP Photo/Jeff Gentner
Roland Micklem is 81 and he just began a hunger strike at the West Virginia State Capitol. He is protesting mountaintop removal mining, the coal-mining practice used throughout Appalachia that destroys not only the tops of mountains but the valleys below, contaminates waterways—800 miles of which have already been filled—and endangers the health of nearby communities.
Though Micklem has been arrested before while protesting mountaintop removal—in June, alongside NASA climate scientist James Hansen and Daryl Hannah—that is not his goal this time. He's not trying to break laws, just send a message of mourning for the mountains, and get the attention of lawmakers to act on this issue.
Longtime activist In October, Micklem led a 25-mile Senior Citizen's March to End Mountaintop Removal, in September he helped to blockade the entrance to Massey Energy's regional headquarters, and in June he participated in a rally at Marsh Fork Elementary School, which sits in spitting distance from a coal plant and is at risk of being buried by billions of gallons of coal sludge, if a (very) nearby earthen dam happens to break. (It was at the June rally that he was arrested, along with dozens of others.)
The sign he is currently holding at the State Capitol reads:
I am fasting over the destruction of the mountains and the warped priorities of a society that allow it to continue. This is not a protest, but an act of mouning for the mountains and all of God's Creation that has been abused to satisfy the selfish wants of humanity. My presence here will remind our public servants of their responsibility to help end this abuse.
He explains more about his purpose and motivation in an open letter published on Climate Ground Zero.
Join Micklem and countless others and take action to stop mountaintop removal mining today.