In recent years, Montrie adds, activists like Judy Bonds, Maria Gunnoe, Teri Blanton and Larry Gibson in West Virginia revived environmental activism in the coalfields.
Kathryn Newfont, a history professor at Mars Hill College near Asheville, N.C., wrote a particularly interesting chapter about anti-clear-cutting campaigns in North Carolina, focusing on the Western North Carolina Alliance, founded in 1981.
Major problems date back to the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, when hardwood timber harvesting left many Blue Ridge Mountain forests in ruin.
Founded in 1905, the United States Forest Service purchased major forestlands in North Carolina in 1916 and 1918, preserving them from future clear-cutting.
The Forest Service "helped make one of the greatest conservation success stories in U.S. history," Newfont writes."
During the past 50 years, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were the presidents most open to preserving environments like hardwood forests.
"As the most diverse temperate forests on earth, the southern Appalachian woods are among the world's critically important ecological treasures."
John Nolt, a professor of philosophy at the University of Tennessee, writes about nuclear weapons plants, aluminum smelters and hazardous waste scrap yards in Oak Ridge and South Knoxville, Tenn.
David Witherspoon Inc. operated landfill sites, including three in Vestal, an economically-depressed neighborhood in Vestal, and abandoned them. It ended up costing more than $35 million to clean up the Candora site, one of those three landfills.
Government agencies ended up paying the bill, while Witherspoon Inc. disappeared and paid nothing. David Witherspoon and his son also avoided paying all environmental fines levied against their company for many years.
"Housewives from Hell" is a chapter filled with stories from local women working to reverse environmental damages to their own communities, written by Michelle Morrone, an environmental health professor at Ohio University, and Wren Kruse, an Ohio University graduate now working on a law degree.
"Housewives from Hell" focuses on: a power plant in Columbus, Ohio that burned municipal solid waste; the Olin Corp. Chlor Alkali Plant in Charleston, Tenn., that generates toxic mercury and PCBs; the Eramat Marietta Inc. plant in Marietta, Ohio that refines manganese which can cause neurological damage to children; the Fernald uranium enrichment plant in Ohio; and the Bayer CropScience plant in Institute, W.Va., that generates methyl isocyanate, or MIC.
Today, good-paying manufacturing jobs have disappeared from many Appalachian communities, largely because of increased global competition from low-wage countries like China and current worldwide economic problems.
"Appalachian residents now face some of the highest unemployment in the country. High unemployment combined with severe environmental contamination have led some residents of the region to question the justice in this situation," Morrone and Kruse point out. "Women are among the leading questioners."
Major changes must take place, writes Jedediah S. Purdy, a Duke Law School professor who grew up in Calhoun County.
Today, many people believe it is fine to ruin land permanently in exchange for a few years of convenience and prosperity.
But, Purdy warns, "Climate change seems to insure that no one can be sure of growing old, or even growing up, in the landscape they were born into."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.