Hundreds lined up for the Senate hearing on the new Appalachian Restoration Act, which would make mountaintop removal illegal. Residents, conservationists, and laid-off miners all offered testimony on the destructive practice of extracting coal by blowing off the tops of mountains.

Marie Gunnoe, recent winner of the 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize (in the video above) was one of the featured speakers.

S 696 is the Senate version of the Clean Water Protection Act, a response to the Bush Administration's "gutting" of the Clean Water Act which previously protected public lands and waterways from being polluted by private interests in particular mining interests.  

The EPA under Bush-appointed Steve Johnson, redefined the word "fill" allowing coal companies to go directly to the Army Corps of Engineers for their permits.

8 years later, over 500 mountain top detonations have turned huge swathes of Appalachia into a moonscape incapable of supporting any form of life, polluting 1,200 miles of rivers and streams in the process.

Cancer rates have skyrocketed in the region due to human exposure to both airborne and waterborne pollutants.

The conservation group I LOVE MOUNTAINS is encouraging everyone to call their Senators and tell them to support the Act. Currently out of 6 senators are supporting the bill and 94 are undecided.

Also check out the #MTR twitter campaign!

Watch my video blog on the Battle in W. Virginia. RSS or follow Karl Burkart posts and tweets @greendig or on Facebook.

Standing room only Senate hearing on MTR
Appalachian residents witness to the atrocities of mountaintop removal as S. 696 hits the Senate.