By Chrystal Gunnoe

Hello. My name is Chrystal Gunnoe. I live in West Virginia. My hometown is in the heart of the coalfields. The coalfields are where most of the coal comes from that provides energy for the rest of the country. Mountaintop Removal (MTR) is a new, dangerous and destructive method of extracting coal. Three million pounds of explosives are used per day to blow off the tops of the mountains to expose the coal inside.

MTR is destroying the coalfields and the people who live here. When MTR started, so did the changes in my life. I started noticing these changes very fast. The water from our faucet tasted different, like metal. Coal and rock dust from the deafening blasts cover everything in our home. Our yard was eroding from flooding.

Flooding happens because the mountains have been carved up like Swiss cheese from underground mining. Hard rains land on bare rock with nowhere to go besides downstream, flooding the valleys below. Because of the flooding, I had less room to ride my bike, and when I did ride my bike, I had to walk it to a safe place to ride.

Until the flood of June 16, 2003, which destroyed five acres of our property, I didn’t know what was happening. But then it was like a wall of information hitting me – I began to understand that MTR was not good. I wanted to tell people about it. I did a science fair project on MTR. I brought in a video documentary called Kilowatt Ours (www.kilowattours.org) to show my class and I talked to my friends about MTR. One of my friends got interested in MTR with me. She told her grandmother; now she’s interested too.

Chrystal Gunnoe is a sixth grader at Van Junior High School. She lives with her parents and older brother Jessie in Bobwhite, West Virginia.