Update: Katie Falkenberg emailed me and requested that the photograph be removed. I am republishing this post in an effort to have the Tumblr blogs that have re-blogged it to remove it also. Her request is: “This photo is copyrighted and I have not, nor am giving anyone
permission to publish or post this photograph - especially out of
respect and consideration for the family and what is being discussed
about it at this time.”
Maria Gunnoe is an activist working to alert the public and elected officials to the environmental dangers of coal mining. She intended to use the above photograph of a young girl, bathing in water contaminated with arsenic, to illustrate her testimony to the House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. The details on who prevented her and why she was not allowed to use the photograph are not clear, but one blog mentions that the photograph was considered “inappropriate.” Aaron Bady at the New Inquiry has a more specific story - Republican members of the subcommittee alerted the capitol police that the photograph might be considered “child pornography.”
Look at: Katie Falkenberg’s entire series on the subject.
Read: This PDF of Gunnoe’s testimony, as well as her slides, including aerial photographs she has taken of the impact of mining operations.
Read the full caption of the photograph: Erica and Rully Urias must bathe their daughter, Makayla, age 5, in contaminated water that is the color of tea. Their water has been tested and contains high levels of arsenic. The family attributes this water problem primarily to the blasting which they believe has disrupted the water table and cracked the casing in their well, allowing seepage of heavy metals into their water, and also to the runoff from the mountaintop removal sites surrounding their home. The coal company that mines the land around their home has never admitted to causing this problem, but they do supply the family with bottled water for drinking and cooking. Contaminated and colored water in has occurred in other coalfield communities as well where mountaintop mining is practiced.