Students among those lobbying for mountains

Frankfort — Instead of flowers and candy, thousands of people gave state legislators something to think about on Valentine’s Day.

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and other environmental organizations rallied yesterday at the Capitol Building in Frankfort to protest mountaintop removal, a form of strip mining where explosives are used to blast the tops of mountains to mine the coal beneath.

The group is lobbying on behalf of House Bill 164, also known as the “Stream Saver Bill,” which would require all strip-mined mountains to be restored to their original contour.

“This cause is more important in terms of people, not just the land,” said UK senior Matt Harmin. “They are destroying people’s backyards, and not just that. It’s like they are destroying the backyard, both side yards and half of the front yard.”

Harmin also said that he has seen how mountaintop removal pollutes surrounding water.

“This is destroying people’s lives,” Harmin said.

Many protesters said they were pleased with the day’s turnout.

“It’s been a bigger crowd than I imagined it would be,” said Ricky Handshoe, a member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth who lives in Eastern Kentucky.

Handshoe said the mining near his home is getting out of control.

“I live in the mountains so I know what really goes on up there,” Handshoe said. “If they don’t stop soon, there won’t be a mountain I can see from my home left undamaged.”

To some, protesting mountaintop removal was a way to show love on Valentine’s Day in a non-traditional way.

“This is so much less superficial than your typical Valentine’s Day celebration.” Harmin said. “This is real love.”