First Coal Ash Train to Brickhaven pit January 2016
Gospel Sing-Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church,
Mar 12, 2017, Sunday, 2:30 p.m.
I want to thank everyone–the Mt. Olive congregation, and especially, Pastor Headen and Cathy Smith, for arranging this event and welcoming us into their church, also the two choirs from Liberty Chapel and Ward Memorial churches, and all our visitors. We began fighting the dumping of 12 million tons of coal ash in our community in late 2014, and have been to court to challenge the Department of Environmental Quality’s permits to do this. We’ve attended hearings, held protests, written letters, and held fund–raising events to pay our wonderful lawyer, John Runkle. The money donated today goes to Mr. Runkle. In our fight have also been EnvironmentaLee and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League of which both our groups are 501-C-3 chapters, so donations are tax-deductible.
I’ve lived in Moncure eighteen years and decided when I came, that I would work to stop the pollution threatened then: a low-level nuclear dump. The pollution attempts have been constant, but we have in time won them all. This one has been especially hard, but we are working hard. What I want to talk about is our community, and what a blessing it is.
I knew no one when I moved here in late 1998, and now I count many here my friends and good neighbors, and fellow fighters for justice. People here have helped me with yard work, firewood, rides to the doctor or to get my car. People I didn’t know have introduced themselves in the post office. My life is rich because I have so many caring and generous neighbors. I’m very glad that Moncure is my home and that I’m part of this community, and I want to tell you: The coal ash dumping is not a done deal. When people say that, it sends out a message of despair. We have hope of winning this fight. Hope is harder than despair, but we can do it. Duke Energy is big, rich, and powerful, but we have the power of love, hope, and strong spirits. I challenge all of us to join those who are already fighting, to say, with them, “This is not a done deal. We are going to stop this dumping which brings harm: illness and death to us. We will not give up. Together we can stop this insult to our lives, our families, and our children.”
Judy with sign, 2016, later vandalized. We fight other ways.