From Publishers Weekly
Investigative reporter Loeb compassionately chronicles 10 years of grassroots efforts by citizens of southern West Virginia to protect their homes from coal-mining damage. The story centers on the efforts of Patricia Bragg, who in 1998, together with attorney Joe Lovett, filed a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection for their failure to regulate the waste from mountaintop mining, a practice in which hundreds of feet are sliced off mountaintops and the leftover rubble is dumped into streams and narrow valleys. This case, which resulted in a ruling for a two-year moratorium on mountaintop removal by a judge who had not previously favored environmental causes, is the high point of the book. Though the judge's ruling was later overturned on appeal, the Bragg case led to some improvements in coal-mining procedures. Unfortunately, Loeb overloads her account with too many stories of other people struggling for fair treatment by the coal company. She's very effective, however, in pointing out the heartbreaking dilemma of these West Virginians: the industry that threatens their quality of life is also the lifeblood of their economy. Photos not seen by PW
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She was an unassuming homemaker, trying to do what was right for her family. He was an untested lawyer, trying to find a cause that would make his career. Together, Patricia Bragg and Joe Lovett took on West Virginia's coal industry in a David-and-Goliath case that would have far-reaching implications for the environment and a more immediate effect on the lives of people who had lived for too long under the mistaken impression that they were powerless to stop the destructive mining practices that had ruined their water, compromised their health, damaged their homes, and devastated the pristine natural habitat that was once the Appalachian Mountains' greatest asset. An acclaimed investigative journalist, Loeb spent nine years following the case with Bragg and Lovett as they went head-to-head with mining unions, legislators, the courts, and even other locals who feared the loss of their jobs. The result is a captivating, if cautionary, account of the staggering fortitude, resilience, and solidarity one community mustered in the face of nearly insurmountable opposition. Haggas, Carol