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Mountaintop Removal Mining–A Conversation with Jim Hecker

  • Date: Sunday, August 21, 2016
  • Time: 12:30pm2:00pm
  • Location: Sanctuary

At the UCC General Synod in Long Beach, CA, in 2013, the final business for the delegates was a resolution that called for the end to Mountaintop Removal Mining. This hazardous form of mining simply cuts the top of mountains off to get at the deposits of coal that lay beneath. In doing so, it not only scars the beauty of the area but creates devastating side effects including flooding as waters race down the mountainside and the leeching of hazardous materials into rivers and ground water.
When a resolution is passed, it is not binding on any congregation, and yet as part of our tradition, we are called to “take it seriously.” The resolution itself “encourages United Church of Christ congregations to educate themselves and their communities about the effects of mountaintop removal coal mining and economic options available to Appalachian communities…” Honoring that call, the Board of Mission and Action and the Green Team invite you to a special dialogue on August 21st featuring Jim Hecker.

For nearly four decades, Jim Hecker has been litigating environmental cases on behalf of local citizens, grassroots organizations, and national environmental organizations. In the twenty-six years that Mr. Hecker has been with Public Justice, a public interest law firm based in Washington, DC, he has litigated scores of citizen suits in fourteen states under federal environmental statutes regulating clean air, clean water, hazardous waste, and coal mining. Mr. Hecker’s work to stop the destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining has been reported on 60 Minutes, National Public Radio, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and through numerous other media.

Mr. Hecker earned his undergraduate and law degrees with honors from the University of Illinois. He received the Sierra Club’s prestigious William O. Douglas award in 2009 for his work on mountaintop removal mining. In combating mountaintop mining, he has primarily used the Clean Water Act to prevent new mines from filling streams with mining waste and to require that existing mines clean up discharges that are harming streams. Due to his successes, coal companies have been forced to abandon mines, modify their plans for mining rock and filling streambeds, and spend millions of additional dollars on environmental compliance. These cases have not only forced companies to scale back their plans, they have also made coal from mountaintop mining less competitive and have shown that state regulators have been largely ineffectual at enforcing environmental laws.

Questions: Contact Madonna Meagher.

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