Appalachian Activist Fights Mountaintop Removal with a Purpose

ome great news.   You’ve heard lots about the “youth climate movement,” but how about a little love for our elders fighting to better their communities and end climate change fueling mountaintop removal.

My friend and close ally, Bo Webb of the Coal River Valley, has won the prestigious Purpose Prize for his efforts in ending mountaintop removal.

I’ve worked with Bo on a number of projects from the Wise Up Dominion action to a march and civil disobedience at Marsh Fork Elementary to Appalachia Rising.  I spent a day in jail with him in Charlotte, NC after the Cliffside Climate Action (where over half of those arrested were over 50, BTW) where he  shared to our fellow inmates the story of King Coal’s assault on his home.  I always feel like he has my back in the work that we do together.

Bo is featured in the new documentary, On Coal River, about the impacts of mountaintop removal in mountain communities in the Coal River Valley.  Check it out if you haven’t already.

Bo’s Achievements Include :

  • Raised $8.6 million to move Marsh Fork Elementary School, which currently sits in the shadows of a 2.7 billion gallon coal sludge dam
  • Pressured the EPA to create more stringent rules for granting permits reducing MTR permit applications from 15 or a more a week three years ago, to nearly none today
  • Participated in the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) and educated attendees on the effects of MTR
  • Drawn high-profile notables into the anti-MTR movement, such as climate scientist James Hansen, actress Daryl Hannah, and environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
  • Grown the Mountain Justice network to include hundreds of participating activists
  • Brought significant media attention to MTR in various news outlets, books and documentary films

We need more activists in the climate and anti-MTR movements like Bo.

The Purpose Prize goes to social entrepreneurs over 60 who, in their encore careers, are using their experience and passion to make an extraordinary impact on society’s biggest challenges.

Coalfield Resident Bo Webb Wins Purpose Prize