July 17, 2009
Appalachian coal miners are boycotting Tennessee in a dispute over mountaintop mining.
They're refusing to vacation in Tennessee because one of its senators, Lamar Alexander, is sponsoring legislation to ban mountaintop removal.
The controversial practice involves blasting away mountaintops to unearth coal and dumping the dirt, rock and trees into the valleys below.
Alexander says Appalachia's mountaintops should be preserved, not destroyed. He says millions of tourists visit Tennessee every year to see the mountains.
The director of the group organizing the miners boycott says the Republican senator should "mind his own business." Roger Horton of Citizens for Coal says miners in Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia are taking part in the boycott, and he predicts it will grow.
Tennessee has just over 500 coal miners, compared with more than 20,000 in West Virginia.