Worthy winners - Goldman prize

Julia Bonds, a grandmother living in the state of West Virginia, usa, has been awarded the 2003 Goldman environmental prize for her fearless campaigning against the hazardous practice of mountaintop coal mining. Bonds, the director of the protest group Coal River Mountain Watch, admits that she has faced numerous threats from ruthless coal mining lobbyists, but has resolutely stuck to her guns

 
Published: Thursday 15 May 2003

-- Goldman Prize

Julia Bonds, a grandmother living in the state of West Virginia, usa, has been awarded the 2003 Goldman environmental prize for her fearless campaigning against the hazardous practice of mountaintop coal mining. Bonds, the director of the protest group Coal River Mountain Watch, admits that she has faced numerous threats from ruthless coal mining lobbyists, but has resolutely stuck to her guns.

Mountaintop mining for coal seams renders barren vast tracts of verdant land on the peaks of mountains. Entire forests are levelled and the run-off from the land chokes streams and rivers. The mining leaves behind slurry containing dangerous metals such as lead and mercury, which seep into and contaminate groundwater. Rubble from the wrecked mountaintops has already buried more than 1,600 kilometres of streams and valleys in West Virginia. Activists estimate that if present mining trends continue, half of the state's mountains will be flattened in the next 20 years.

Julia Bonds, herself the daughter of a miner, has forced the state mining board to introduce stricter blasting legislations through persistent campaigning. Carolyn Johnson of the us -based Citizens Coal Council says, "Julia is lifting up a region of the us often forgotten by the rest of the country."

Other winners of the 2003 Goldman environmental prize include Odigha Odigha of Nigeria for campaigning against industrial logging in his country's rainforests; Von Hernandez of the Philippines who fought to initiate the world's first nationwide ban on waste incinerators; Maria Elena Foronda Farro for aiding in the clean-up of Peru's fishmeal industry and Australian Aboriginal elders Eileen Kampakuta Brown and Eileen Wani Wingfield, who are protesting against efforts to build a nuclear waste dump on Aboriginal land.

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