R.I.P. Larry Gibson, 1946-2012, a leading activist against Mountaintop Removal

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Larry Gibson photo: Keeper of the Mountains Foundation

Keeper of the Mountains Foundation reported that long-time environmental activist Larry Gibson died of a heart attack on September 9 while working on Kayford Mountain, the family home in West Virginia, which he spent the last decades of his life protecting from Mountaintop Removal coal mining. “Larry changed thousands of lives, and will forever leave an empty space in these thousands of hearts,” writes Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

The Keeper of the Mountains Foundation website notes:

Larry Gibson has been fighting for his mountain, calling for an end to the destruction of the Appalachian Mountains through Mountaintop Removal coal mining for more than the last twenty years. He is an internationally known voice who has been named one of CNN’s “Heroes”, has appeared on ABC’s 20/20, appeared before the United Nations, and has spoken to thousands of community, church, and university groups across the country. He has most recently been honored by Ohio Citizen Action, which awarded him the 2010 Enduring Courage Award.

Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, writes in a heartfelt tribute (The mountains weep for Larry Gibson):

… Larry was always a welcome sight, from the halls of Congress to the hollows of Appalachia. As social media will affirm in the days ahead, Larry changed thousands of lives, and will forever leave an empty space in these thousands of hearts. Including mine.

… Even while he became a public figure, he kept his feet on the ground in Kayford, and his focus on building the movement, one new person at a time. If you stood with him, shoulder to shoulder, and stuck with the fight, you would earn Larry’s friendship and respect, and sometimes that alone kept people going in the struggle to end mountaintop removal.

I always imagined that, when we celebrated the end of mountaintop removal, Larry Gibson would be there. I can’t believe Larry won’t be alive to see the abolition of the coal mining practice that was – and still is – destroying the mountains and communities he loved.

Now, we are going to have to do it for him. …

Also see:

RIP, Larry Gibson: Longtime mountaintop-removal activist dies on mountain he loved (Grist, September 10)

Larry Gibson remembered for passion to protect mountains (West Virginia State Journal, September 10)

Video of Larry Gibson at Kayford Mountain

And see this movie: “The Last Mountain”

Some earlier CSW posts:

Study showing higher birth defect rates adds another note of urgency to banning mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia

“The Last Mountain” – great documentary on mountaintop removal coal mining

Mountaintop removal rally outside EPA headquarters excoriates ‘King Coal’ Congress members

From the top of Blair Mountain: “It’s time to annihilate mountaintop removal”

Hansen joins Appalachia Rising mountaintop removal coal protest, 100 arrested at White House

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One Response to R.I.P. Larry Gibson, 1946-2012, a leading activist against Mountaintop Removal

  1. Anne says:

    If I were a person who believed in a literal heaven, I’d imagine that Larry is now with another “infamous” anti-MTR hero, Judy Bonds (1952-2011), and they are scheming together on how to ban MTR from “up there” – looking down on all of us “down here.” Both left Mother Earth too early, both burned brightly, and both left a permanent mark. Hoping a legacy fund or a scholarship or something lasting is established in the name of Larry Gibson, to help continue the battle to just let a mountain, well, be a mountain.

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