O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!






  
I have to confess I always get a little choked up when I hear America the Beautiful. As a little kid we had to sing it every day, and I remember thinking (as I was belting out the refrains) how lucky I was to be born in a country that so celebrated its natural beauty. A nascent environmentalist I suppose, I knew then that I wanted to dedicate my life to preserving this great beauty —  especially the purple mountain part.
 
But times are hard for the mountains right now. Despite the most progressive administration in decades, the coal industry seems to have our beautiful country in a death grip. The most horrific environmental atrocities are currently taking place — atrocities that would have been scarcely imaginable during the Reagan years.
 
The greatest of all, going on right now as we speak, is mountaintop removal in Appalachia. Obama pledged to end it. The EPA said they would fix the broken legal framework that made it temporarily legal during the Bush years. But neither has happened. 
 
 
So Rainforest Action Network, one of the only environmental nonprofits with any balls left, decided enough was enough. Early this morning, they fabricated two big purple mountain/teepees and several protestors locked themselves in for the duration ... until EPA head Lisa Jackson finally agrees to take a fly-over tour of the almost incomprehensible damage that this mining practice is leaving behind in America's most valuable and biodiverse, temperate forest.
 
To learn more about the action and to get involved check out the RAN website. For starters, if you really want to make a difference and you happen to have a CHASE bank account, close your account! CHASE is one of the only banks that still funds mountaintop removal, and if you video yourself closing your account (phone video is fine), I will add you to my compilation of eco-heroes who are taking a stand against what many are now calling the "Appalachian Apocalypse."

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