Governor Steve Beshear got an early Christmas gift from anti-mountaintop removal activists today. Protesters spent several hours in the governor’s office waiting for a chance to present him with lumps of coal.
The protest was an extension of a weekly event that’s been going on since February, but this time it had a holiday twist. Lexington teacher Martin Mudd dressed up as Santa Claus, and says he brought gifts for the governor.
“Santa brought the governor some lumps of coal and switches because he’s been a naughty boy in not doing everything that he can to protect the people of eastern Kentucky and our mountains and water,” he said.
Caroline Taylor-Webb was among the protesters.
“There’s an alarming rate of cancer, there’s an alarming rate of birth defects, all caused by mountaintop removal,” she said. “And so what we’re trying to do is get the governor to look at alternative energy sources. One of these days, and it won’t be too long, the coal’s going to run out.”
There were about 15 protesters, and they left a list of demands along with their gifts. They’re asking Beshear to end strip mining, employ all surface mine workers in reclaiming the land and build a sustainable economy in eastern Kentucky.
“The protesters were respectful during their visit,” Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson said in an email. “A free exchange of ideas is an important part of government.”
Neither Beshear nor Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson were in their offices to meet with the protesters.