John Grisham
John Grisham asked:

GRAY MOUNTAIN is a so-called "issue" novel. In this case the issue is Mountain Top Removal, the widespread coal-mining method that has ripped the tops off of hundreds of mountains in Appalachia while poisoning the ecosystem and decimating both wildlife and human communities. Those in favor of this form of mining cite the economic benefits in a region in need of economic good news. What are your feelings about MTR?

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James Jacob One cannot blame a desperate people for seeking solutions to their most pressing needs - putting food on the table. This isn't a new problem, however, and there are other solutions besides raping the land for short-term gain. Where are all of these so-called patriotic billionaire business owners? If they love America so much, and have the means, why not invest in these regions to help the people and to save the land. The government appears to try, but political reality is that they are limited. Thanks, Mr. Grisham, for bringing exposure to this issue. May God bless the people of Appalachia and elsewhere who are limited in their economic opportunities.
Peggy Chisholm Since my husband worked for the US Office of Surface Mining in West Virginia until he retired, I am all too familiar with the topic. Yes, these people need economic help; but destroying their environment is not helpful to them economically or health wise. As an RN practicing in Huntington, I saw many of the physical side effects. I wish I had an answer then or now. These are wonderful, kind people that know no other way of life. To remember the worst of the effects, look back to the Buffalo Creek Disaster in 1972.
Jonesmikey Why are we still dependent on coal? You'd think with all this stupid cell phone and internet technology that maybe somebody would take the time to develop something important, something like an alternative energy source. Nope, we're how far into the industrial revolution and we still rely on fossil fuels? It's ridiculous and it's because all the shareholders in the energy companies want their stupid short-term profits and they couldn't care less about developing an efficient energy source that won't destroy the planet.
Gaylynn Jameson Makes the mining companies drink the water!
Marty Fried I don't understand how they can justify the "economic benefits" with a straight face. Can a murderer can justify murder sprees by citing the economic benefits for mortuaries, funeral homes, casket makers, police, courts, etc? Makes about as much sense to me.

I think traditional mining would create more jobs, but isn't a particularly good occupation either; but at least people have a choice about whether to risk their lives for that, unlike the ones who have their water poisoned and family killed by nearby accidents.
David Heslop I dealt with a similar issue in my novel These Barren Hills though it focused on copper. This technique of mineral removal is an environmental catastrophe and the economics don't answer to the destruction it causes. So pleased to see you pick up the topic and have your new title on pre-order.
Anna I do not agree with destroying mountain tops. As you said, it hurts both the wildlife and the human communities. also the scenery and countryside that is so beautiful if people would take the time to look. Don't get me started about destroying the countryside, forests, etc. I get very upset when I see the trees getting chopped down.
Max de Freitas I thoroughly enjoyed your "issue" novel. It was entertaining and educational. Now that you have been branded a tree-hugging liberal, you have to write more. We need more thoughtful novels. Half of America believes that government regulations should be strictly limited to enforcing Christian practices. The other half and the rest of the world will enjoy your books.
M Price At 3:22 a.m. I'm just going to say government/big Corp greed and corruption get me infuriated and fired up. I'm immediately thrust into activism mode after reading this post. I cannot wait to read the book and this 'has' to 'stop'!!! .......and I don't know the ending of the book like you do so we may be on different sides of this question. :) I Love getting fired up like this!! It makes me feel alive and ready to make a difference in the world. Thank you for an awesome question and I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of your book.
Anita Byler The descriptions of mountain top removal in the book are making me feel sick to my stomach. I really can't understand how anyone can even do it. Do so many people- all the miners and supervisors and the on-site people- really have no conscience? It's not "just" the environment they're destroying; they're killing people. Plain and simple. Litigators took on big tobacco and started making a dent; this is worse than big tobacco. By a long shot. My feelings about MTR? Only someone with no conscience could be involved. Completely disgusted.
David Richardson I have seen this first hand, ruins the land.
Rita I grew up in an early strip mined area in coal country, Pennsylvania in the fifties. We are called coal crackers. Unless you have lived in an area that was used up, abused, and discarded, you have no idea how terrible it can be. When the coal was mined out, and the hills destroyed, and the slag heaps and burning underground were left so were the people who lost their jobs & were as discarded as the environment. IOW the people were raped just as much as the mountains. I remember walking to school and seeing former miners with black lung coughing their lungs out roaming the streets because they could not sleep. We played on slag heaps and thought most places had ugly piles of slate because that was the environment. The cancer rates are extreme. The place has not recovered after more than a half century & the place still has essentially no viable jobs. I was shocked to see that this type of exploitation using the familiar excuse of "creating jobs"--temporary at that--has gotten worse. I left the area and never go back. The only lasting benefits are to the corporations who rape the land.
Susan Grigsby Can't believe we are still doing it.
Suzanne O'connor Real story what happening to our earth.
Paula Rockwood Appalling. Who is using all this coal? This is not China.
Paul M. Wroe It seems that once economic security is achieved, the environmental mantra is championed by successful writers, actors, lawyers and politicians. All but ignoring the needs of people seeking employment to make a living. "Big Coal" makes these jobs happen.The concern shown by environmental elite may make themselves seem caring and self important but does not put food on the table for the common person.
Storm MRT is evil but so many locals are ignorant and desperate. You either mine coal and get black lung, or do MTR and get cancer. If you told Coal Executives the price of mining is their entire family has to live in the area and drink local water I guarantee they would stop mining coal as they think their life is worth more than money, so the economic argument is moot. Unfortunately as long as Coal Companies keep buying senators, regulators and judges who see zero value in Appalachian lives this misery will continue. All the enlightened countries (Europe) are developing cleaner alternative fuel sources, I wish America wasn't so far behind.
Barbara James I would love to see a Book 2 of this. Loved the characters. Give me more
Terri I was born and raised in West Virginia with miners on both sides of my family. I have seen firsthand how mining affects the health of the miners. And yet they continue to work because this job pays them more money than they can make doing anything else in WV. Personally, I find MTR appalling, and fracking even worse. We are decimating our state and its resources which, in the long run, will cost us more than retraining for new jobs would today. But the people in WV are going to have to make this decision for themselves and quit hanging on to mining so desperately. It's time to develop more sustainable resources that won't impact our state & its people so severely.
Stephanie I am p!eased you brought this issue to the Masses.. I don't see how even from an economical view overall its eye opening in a very scary way. If 60% was true, or closely based on it. I will reread a seventh time and bear that question in mind.
Liz W We are facing the same problem here in Pittsylvania County VA where the subject matter is uranium. There is still a ban on the mining but I believe in the next 10 years it will happen. Billions of dollars in revenue cannot be ignored by the greedy for very long.

As for the mining situation I have family in the mines and on the strips. It is their way of life and if taken away there is no other industry there for them to make a life. At the same time the scars on the face of the earth is heartbreaking to see. I know there is a solution but we see so many people talking and very little "doing" about a resolution.

The EPA is involved with the prohibition of mining but has no alternative.
John Milliner I was fortunate enough to emigrate from the UK to Australia 50 years ago. I like to think that if we had cancer clusters like that they would be investigated. As for the total destruction of the landscape, the Greenies and other aware individuals would create such a fuss projects would be tied up for years. The latest is that the hugely powerful Industry Super Funds (10% of everyone's Pay Except the politicians who get 15% is tied up in Super, Billions of Dollars) The latest is that shareholder activists are voting against the Banks financing the sort of destruction at Grey Mountain. The white settlers in Australia did a lot wrong, but now we are trying to correct things. In your coal country people could be employed reinstating the landscape instead of continuing to destroy it. However drug and Alcohol addiction obviously aggravates the situation.
Lynn Lives are forever affected; not in favor.
Sharon This book hit home. My uncles died from working in the coal mines in Pennsylvania... and left behind my aunts. I was a kid, but my aunts shared with me the horrible work in the mines and the loss of their husbands.
MaryAlice I guess MTR is safer for the miners, but at what cost to citizens? Economic relief might come in the form of manufacturing solar panels or producing other sources of energy, moving the country away from its dependency upon coal and oil.

The citizens of Brady did not appear to be getting much economic relief due to jobs in MTR. The novel did not mention farming which could be a source of income in areas like the fictional town, if the mining was not polluting the ground and waters.

"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you have always gotten." In this case: black lung disease, high rates of cancer, preventable deaths.
Sally Parcels It is the type of violence that only man employs. Because we can, is no excuse for this offence against nature. To pillage the land so that we can poison the environment, is as senseless as the sickness of hoarding resources, as sick as healing for profit, as evil as starving a population for power/gain. We were created with the need to share and give. There is no other way to go forward. It is not possible to measure wealth by financial gain. Wealth is the sum total of all that is beautiful, innocent, pure, natural, loving, sacred, joyful, thrilling.
Norehan Hussein Dear Mr. Grisham, as much as I don't agree with the practice, it is rampant here in Malaysia; not for mining but residential development. These housing developments are atrociously expensive which compels unscrupulous housing developers to sell the properties to richer foreigners. The locals are not only losing a natural environment but also a piece of their birthright - at least that is how I see it. Only unscrupulous, money grubbing and corrupted politicians and housing developers make profits out of the situation.
Neil Howey Donovan family land would never be left in desolation by law. All MTR companies are required to post a bond on the land that will reclaim it if the company goes bust. Replace coal jobs with factories? There are no locations in coal country flat enough to lay out a large scale factory. Remove coal mining and it leads to more poverty in a place that is the most impoverished in the 1st world. Inner cities are priviledged compared to coal country.
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