Mattea shocked, disturbed by mountaintop removal tour

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By Scott Finn

One of West Virginia’s most famous musicians is taking center stage in the fight over mountaintop removal mining. Yesterday, two-time Grammy winner and Cross Lanes native Kathy Mattea came home to see firsthand the impact of mountaintop removal mining. What she saw upset and disturbed her. Scott Finn reports. 

Finn: Larry Gibson’s homeplace on top of Kayford Mountain is surrounded by a huge strip mining operation, and it’s become a regular stop for people wanting to see the effects of mountaintop removal. Everything there is coated by a thin layer of rock dust, and you can’t escape the sound of dozers and rock trucks at work. 

This is where Kathy Mattea spent most of a hot, sticky afternoon – sitting on a picnic table, listening to the families affected by mountaintop removal. They showed her picture albums of the dirty water, cracked foundations and flooded homeplaces that they blame on mining. She listened, hugged them, and more than once, cried with them, too. 

Mattea: It’s exhausting to listen to these stories. It’s not something that is easy. You know, but these people are living it, and you know, if they can live it, I can sit and listen to them.  

Finn: I know you’re still processing it, but what do you think you’ll do with this information? 

Mattea: I don’t know. I don’t know yet, I honestly don’t know. I found things I didn’t expect to find, so honestly I don’t know…

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