From: Carley Petesch, Associated Press
Published May 9, 2007 12:00 AM

Environmental Groups Ask U.N. To Take Stand Against Appalachian Coal Mining

UNITED NATIONS -- A coalition of environmental groups called on the United Nations Tuesday to take a stand against ecologically destructive coal mining practices in the Appalachians region of the U.S., saying that the federal and local governments were not paying attention.

The groups from Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky asked the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development, which is holding its annual session through Saturday, to shun coal in favor of policies promoting renewable energy and cuts in fossil fuel consumption.

The delegation told reporters outside the U.N. that coal extraction has destroyed more than a million acres (400,000 hectares) of forests, 500 mountains and 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) of streams in recent years in the Appalachians.

"We need the help of the U.N. to expose and bring an end to coal mining abuses," said Larry Gibson, a board member of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition in Huntington, West Virginia.

Bill Caylor, the president of the Kentucky Coal Association, said the group was exaggerating the environmental effects of coal mining.

"We're helping to develop the region," he said. "They're just a very emotional, anti-business group ... taking their case to the United Nations, I think, is extremely inappropriate."

Ann League, vice president of Save Our Cumberland Mountains of Lake City, Tennessee, said the groups were appealing to the U.N. because the U.S. and local governments had failed to address the problem.

Some group members wore orange shirts they said represented water stained by coal mining.

Erica Urias of the group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth said she recently discovered that her 3-year-old daughter's bathwater has high levels of arsenic that had leached into local supplies from mining operations.

Dan Shepard, a spokesman for the U.N. sustainable development commission, said that the organization would consider the groups' request.

Source: Associated Press

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