Ashley Judd released a strong response to criticism she has received over her stand against mountain top removal.
In a speech last month to the National Press Club, Judd called Mountain Top Removal “the rape of Appalachia.”
Earlier this week coal supporters used a semi-nude photo of Judd to taunt the actress’ outspoken criticism of the mining procedure.
In a statement to WYMT-TV, Judd said she “expected to be attacked personally.”
“I told my husband we should be prepared for it, because the coal companies are cunning, callous and greedy. They use people on the ground as their front, and pit us against one another.”
Judd continued, "It is time to retire the cynical and superficial coal company-created argument that we must choose between people, their jobs, and our mountains," That is simply false, fear-based and fear-mongering."
Here is Ashley Judd’s statement:
I am proud to be standing with so many Eastern Kentuckians everywhere who are working to build a better future. There's so much potential today, right now, for Eastern Kentucky to proudly and bravely lead the way to a new energy economy in this country, with more jobs and more justice for the people of the Appalachian Mountains.
It is time for a community abused and exploited by outsiders who have never had our best interests at heart to rise and lead our entire country into a renewable energy future. We can and do have the hope and the vision to bring real, diverse jobs, money, health, and generativity that benefits the broader common welfare. The cost of premature mortality related to coal mining in Eastern Kentucky was 3.1 to 6.2 billion, on average per year. Kentucky's annual net loss related to coal mining is 100 million. This must stop.
When I started speaking out about mountaintop removal, I expected to be attacked personally. I told my husband we should be prepared for it, because the coal companies are cunning, callous and greedy. They use people on the ground as their front, and pit us against one another. However, I know the derogatory and defamatory comments directed at me absolutely pale in comparison to what it is like for those who live every day in the war zone created by mountain top removal mining in our beloved communities and mountains. Thus, rest assured, I will continue to speak out about the many reasons I’m so proud to be from Eastern Kentucky for so many generations, and also about the things I think can be better. I stand with those whose jobs are lost by increased mechanization, and those who are a terrified to lose the coal jobs they do have, because coal does not allow for other local economies. I stand with those whose land has been stolen from them, whose homes' foundations are cracked and whose water runs orange and black. I stand with those who are sick from particulate dust and pervasive environmental toxicity related to MTR. I stand with those who grieve dead loves ones, killed on dangerous mining sites, by fly rock, by overloaded coal trucks, by social problems such as addiction related to the despair this mono economy wreaks. I stand with those who grieve the 800 mountains gone forever, the 2,500 miles of stream irreversibly contaminated. I stand with those who believe we do not have to choose between mountains and jobs, our past and our future. I even stand with those who oppose me. I believe we can work together.
I look forward to the chance to have a real conversation, a civil conversation, as we retire the cynical and superficial coal company-created argument that we must choose between people and mountains. That is simply false, fear based and fear mongering. The time has come for Appalachia to have a dynamic, diverse economic base that actually supports and perpetuates our inherent richness, rather than destroying and depressing it.
Here are my previous blog posts regarding this controversy.
I hope to have Ashley Judd appear on WYMT’s Issues & Answers program. I am also working to schedule someone from the coal industry and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth to appear on the program to debate this issue.
Let me know your thoughts.
Here is a story from the Associate Press:
By DYLAN LOVAN
Associated Press Writer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A topless photo of Ashley Judd emblazoned on a poster that mocks the actress' outspoken opposition to mountaintop removal mining was on display at a coal industry-sponsored golf tournament in Kentucky.
"Ashley Judd makes a living removing her top, why can't coal miners?" the 5-by-3-foot poster reads in bold, black letters. It was hanging at a golf tournament Wednesday at StoneCrest Golf Course in Prestonsburg, Ky.
Judd is covering her breasts with her hands in the photo, which appears to be from a 2006 issue of Marie Claire magazine.
Judd said in a speech last month to the National Press Club that mountaintop removal, which blasts the tops off mountains to extract coal, is the "rape of Appalachia."
She also referred to golf courses that have been built atop former mining sites, like StoneCrest.
"I'm not too keen on reinforcing stereotypes about my people, but I don't know a lot of hillbillies who golf," Judd said in the June 9 speech. The actress, who spent her childhood in eastern Kentucky and attended the University of Kentucky, said she is "proud of being a hillbilly."
Judd said in a statement that she anticipated criticism from "cunning and greedy" coal companies when speaking out against mountaintop mining.
"It is time to retire the cynical and superficial coal company-created argument that we must choose between people, their jobs, and our mountains," Judd said. "That is simply false, fear-based and fear-mongering."
The actress, who has starred in the Hollywood films "A Time to Kill" and "Where the Heart Is," said she will continue her vocal opposition to the mining practice.
Two coal industry groups sponsored the tournament, Friends of Coal and the Pikeville-based Coal Operators and Associates. Its president, David Gooch, said he does not know who created the sign, first reported by WYMT-TV in Hazard.
But Gooch said Thursday that many Appalachians are angry over Judd's criticisms because they see it as an attack on their livelihoods and culture.
"If you're an eastern Kentuckian, if you're a hillbilly – if that's what you want to call yourself - you don't go around and ridicule and denigrate the other people of the area," Gooch said.
Paul Hughes, assistant general manager at the StoneCrest Golf Course, said he heard no complaints about the poster.
"All the people that was here yesterday, they was all for it," he said.
Judd is one of many artists, including musicians Dave Matthews and EmmyLou Harris, who have been outspoken about the controversial mining practice.
Coal industry officials, along with many politicians and business leaders in Appalachia, say the mining is crucial to the region's economy and a supply of affordable energy.
Environmentalists counter it dumps rock and rubble into streams and destroys Appalachian mountain peaks.
Rob Perks, campaign director for the environmental group
National Resources Defense Council, said he found the poster of Judd to be "terribly derogatory and sexist."
"Anyone who is remotely critical of (coal industry) practices, particularly the most extreme strip mining on the planet, immediately has their character attacked," Perks said.
The golf tournament was put on for a new professional basketball team in Pikeville, the East Kentucky Energy.
Hughes said he planned to remove the sign Thursday and will try to find its owner.
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