Wendell Berry is a poet, essayist, novelist, and farmer who lives and works with his spouse, Tanya Berry, on their farm in Henry County, Kentucky. He is the author of more than forty books, including The Unsettling of America and Life is a Miracle, and is the recipient of numerous awards.
John Blair serves as president of Valley Watch, Inc., an environmental health organization based in Evansville, Indiana, the center of the largest concentration of coal plants in the world. He is a Pulitzer Prize–winning photojournalist and adjunct faculty member at the University of Southern Indiana. Blair holds a bachelors degree in economics from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and a masters in journalism from Ball State University.
Teri Blanton grew up in Harlan County, Kentucky, where she
began volunteering as a community organizer with the Mountain Association of Community and Economic Development. While living next to a federal Superfund site in Dayhoit, Kentucky, she began a career in activism that would receive national attention. Currently Blanton is vice president of Kentucky Riverkeepers and a fellow with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth.
Julia “Judy” Bonds is the codirector of Coal River Mountain Watch in Whitesville, West Virginia. Daughter and granddaughter of coal miners, she and her family have lived in the Coal River Valley for ten generations. Judy has been a tenacious and creative advocate for social and environmental justice in the Appalachian coalfields; in 2003 she was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, the premier award for environmental activism.
Harry M. Caudill (1922–1990) was a lawyer, state legislator, and writer from Letcher County in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky. His landmark book, Night Comes to the Cumberlands, published in 1963, focused national attention on the pervasive poverty and social problems rampant in Appalachia. An early and vigorous opponent of destructive strip mining, he wrote widely for popular magazines, served three terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives, and taught for several years at the University of Kentucky.
Samir Doshi is a systems ecologist specializing in restorative ecological design for Ocean Arks, International, which was recently awarded the Buckminster Fuller Challenge for a carbon-neutral design for Appalachia. He is pursuing his doctorate in natural resources at the University of Vermont and splits his time between Vermont and rural western Virginia, where he is conducting research on how to restore “reclaimed” mined landscapes and help communities transition toward a sustainable economy.
Kai T. Erikson is an emeritus professor of sociology and American studies at Yale University and former chair of its Department of Sociology. He is past president of the American Sociological Association and the author of several award-winning books including Wayward Puritans and Everything in Its Path: Destruction of Community in the Buffalo Creek Flood, the latter an account of the February 1972 coal waste-dam failure that killed 125 people in West Virginia.
Lisa Gollin Evans is an attorney specializing in waste law and has been active in hazardous waste litigation and advocacy for over twenty-five years. She is an expert on coal-ash issues and testified before Congress in 2008 and before the National Academies of Science in 2005. Prior to working at Earthjustice, Lisa worked for the Boston-based nonprofit, Clean Air Task Force, and began her career as an Assistant Regional Counsel at the Environmental Protection Agency, Region 1. She is the author of six nonfiction books, including an award-winning children’s book.
Ross Gelbspan was a reporter and editor for thirty-one years at the Philadelphia Bulletin, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe. At the Globe, he conceived and edited a series of articles that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984. Following his retirement from daily journalism, he authored two landmark books on climate change, The Heat Is On and Boiling Point. His articles on the climate issue have appeared in Harper’s, the Atlantic Monthly, the Nation, the American Prospect, and other periodicals. He founded the website www.heatisonline.org.
Denise Giardina is an award-winning novelist who teaches at West Virginia State University. She was born in the coalfields, growing up in the mining camp of Black Wolf, West Virginia, where her parents and extended family worked for the coal mine. As a teenager, her family relocated to Charleston when the mine closed. She attended college and seminary before pursuing writing. Two of her novels, Storming Heaven and The Unquiet Earth, are set in the West Virginia coalfields. She ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2000, using the campaign to speak out about mountaintop removal and the economic injustice facing many rural citizens.
Maria Gunnoe of Bob White, West Virginia, is an organizer with the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. Her family’s land has been flooded repeatedly since a mountaintop-removal mine was put in above the family property, and she has been subject to harassment for her anti-surface mining-activism. Her work is featured in the film Burning the Future: Coal in America.
Jerry Hardt is the communications director of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, a statewide citizens’ group working toward a new balance of power and a just society. He is editor of the organization’s newsletter, Balancing the Scales, and was a key contributor to the book Missing Mountains: Kentuckians Write Against Mountaintop Removal. He is a native Kentuckian and lives in Magoffin County.
Ken Hechler was an assistant to President Harry Truman, served West Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1959 to 1977, and later was West Virginia’s Secretary of State. While in Congress, Hechler was the lead author of the Coal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1969 and a key booster of unsuccessful legislation that would have banned surface coal mining in the United States. A former professor and the author of several books, Hechler lectures widely and remains a vigorous opponent of coal-mining interests that promote mountaintop removal.
Richard Heinberg, a leading educator on peak oil, is a senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute. He is the author of eight books including Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World, The Oil Depletion Protocol, and Peak Everything. His latest book is Blackout: Coal, Climate, and the Last Energy Crisis.
Mary Anne Hitt is deputy director of the Sierra Club’s National Coal Campaign, which is working to eliminate coal’s contribution to global warming by preventing the construction of new coal-fired power plants, accelerating the retirement and replacement of existing coal plants, and ensuring that the massive coal reserves in the U.S. remain underground and out of export markets. She previously served as executive director of Appalachian Voices, where she was one of the creators of iLoveMountains.org, an online campaign to end mountaintop-removal coal mining that received national recognition for innovation and impact. She grew up in the mountains of east Tennessee and now lives in West Virginia.
Rebecca Gayle Howell is a poet and documentary photographer who teaches in the creative writing program at Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky. Her books include The Hatchet Buddha, This is Home Now: Kentucky’s Holocaust Survivors Speak (coauthor), and The Artist as Activist.
Mary T. Hufford is a folklorist and the director of the Center for Folklore and Ethnography at the University of Pennsylvania. She has published widely on folklore, cultural policy, and ecological crisis, including an edited volume, Conserving Culture: A New Discourse on Heritage. Her many writings on regional culture include the article “Folklore and Folklife in Appalachia: An Overview,” published in the Encyclopedia of Appalachia.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. serves as senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, chief prosecuting attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper, and chairman of the Waterkeeper Alliance. He is also a clinical professor and supervising attorney at the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic at Pace University School of Law in New York. A widely published author, his books include Crimes Against Nature and The Riverkeepers.
Pam Maggard is a special education teacher who has taught at the R. W. Combs Elementary School in Happy, Kentucky, since 1981. Her family’s roots in eastern Kentucky go back generations. She lives with her family in the town of Sassafras, where they have remodeled an old coal-camp house. The daily fight to endure mining-related dirt, dust, and coal trucks through her community prompted her to become a community leader and activist with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth.
Chad Montrie is an associate professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. His research has focused on U.S. labor and environmental history. He is the author of Making a Living: Work and Environment in the United States and To Save the Land and People: A History of Opposition to Surface Coal Mining in Appalachia.
David W. Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College in Ohio and a James Marsh Professor at the University of Vermont. He is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and other awards, and has lectured at hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the United States and Europe. His books include Ecological Literacy and Earth in Mind.
Carl Pope, one of America’s most prominent environmentalists, has served as the executive director of the Sierra Club since 1992. Under his leadership, the Sierra Club has expanded its membership and political influence. The organization has maintained vigorous campaigns to expand wilderness, defend the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, help local communities fight proposed coal-burning power plants, and advocate for a green-energy economic transition.
Jack Spadaro is a mining engineer and a leading authority on mine health and safety issues. His nearly four decades of public service included roles with both state and federal regulatory agencies. As a young engineer, he researched and wrote the report for the Governor’s Commission of Inquiry into the Buffalo Creek Flood of February 1972. From 1998 to 2004, he was the superintendent of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy, the principal training facility for all federal Mine Safety and Heath Administration inspectors.
Cindy Rank was president of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy from 1988 to 1994 and now chairs that group’s mining committee. She has led research and protests on coal-mining and water-quality issues in her region since the late 1970s and in 1997 was the first to compile a map visually documenting the extent of stream loss from mountaintop-removal valley fills in West Virginia. She has testified before U.S. House and Senate Committees about matters related to the oversight and enforcement of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. Rank has received numerous awards for her environmental and social justice activism.
Erik Reece teaches writing at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, and is the author of Lost Mountain: Radical Strip Mining and the Devastation of Appalachia. His work has appeared in Harper’s, Orion, and the Oxford American, among other publications. He was the recipient of the Sierra Club’s David R. Brower Award, and his Harper’s story on which Lost Mountain is based won the Columbia University School of Journalism’s 2005 John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism.
Vivian Stockman, who has a bachelor’s degree cum laude with distinction in Environmental Communications from the Ohio State University, has worked for the Huntington, West Virginia–based Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition since 1998. She previously worked for the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy on its Save the Blackwater Canyon campaign. Vivian has won the West Virginia Environmental Council’s Mother Jones Award—its top honor. Her mountaintop-removal photographs have been extensively published in national newspapers, magazines, and books and on websites.
Lucious Thompson is a retired underground coal miner from McRoberts, Kentucky. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army, served in Korea and Vietnam, and is an activist with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, a citizens’ group.
Carol Warren is a tenth-generation West Virginian who has spent most of her adult life working for social justice in the Appalachian Mountains. Her work as the West Virginia Catholic diocese’s director of the Office of Justice and Life has successfully built relationships between labor, environmental, community, and religious groups. She serves on the board of the West Virginia Environmental Council, is the chairperson of the Government Concerns Committee for the West Virginia Council of Churches, is a steering committee member of Christians for the Mountains, and coordinates the statewide Citizens for Clean Elections coalition.
Matthew Wasson is a conservation biologist with a PhD in ecology from Cornell University. He is the director of programs for the citizens’ group Appalachian Voices in Boone, North Carolina. The author of several scientific papers about the effects of acid rain on birds and other animals, he also occasionally teaches classes, including ecology and ornithology courses, in the biology department at Appalachian State University.