More than 500 of the country's oldest mountains, covering 2,000 miles of headwater streams, have been destroyed as a result of mountaintop removal, according to Jeannie Cerulean.
She is among hundreds of Tennesseans concerned that drinking water for an increasing number of state residents is being polluted by companies stripping away mountains to get coal.
"They blow up about 1,000 feet of the mountain and they dump it into the headwater stream where our water is being collected," Cerulean said. "The whole water cycle is being affected. That's our fresh drinking water, and we have a limited amount on the planet."
Cerulean is one of several people across the country raising funds to send buses of people to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 25-27 for the Appalachia Rising event. Organizers are calling it the largest mobilization against mountaintop removal and surface mining in the United States.
If you go
* What: Stop Mountaintop Removal fundraiser party
* Where: Discoteca, 304 E. Main St.
* When: 9 p.m.-close tonight
* Cost: Donation $5; items will also be raffled.
* For more information about mountaintop removal, go to appalachiarising.org; for more information about the party go to svionline.org
* To make donations, go to www.unitedmountaindefense.org and click on the Paypal logo, or call Gilbert Everett at 629-6691.
Coal operators met in Washington this week to tell politicians that mountaintop removal provides jobs for tens of thousands of coal workers and that it is the most-efficient way to get at coal reserves used for energy, according to news reports.
Cerulean is hosting a fundraising party tonight starting at 9 p.m. at the Discoteca on East Main Street to raise money for a bus leaving Chattanooga to attend Appalachia Rising.
Buses going to Appalachia Rising also will leave Knoxville and Johnson City.
She said she is especially close to the issue because seven mountains have been blown up in Letcher County, Ky., the home of her late grandmother, former Chattanooga florist Lou Gregg.
Cerulean said she also had two great-uncles who were coal miners and lost their lives to black lung disease.
Not many mountains in Tennessee are being blasted, but some coal companies are considering mountains in the Cumberland Plateau, according to news reports.
"We're not only looking at the destruction of area waterways," said Matt Landon, a volunteer staffer for the United Mountain Defense, an advocacy group based in Knoxville. "People are being forced off of their land. They're dealing with the negative impacts on the environment."
Contact Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6431.