by Tony McVeigh

A citizens group protesting mountaintop removal has met with Governor Steve Beshear.

Around 20 members of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth began a sit-in protest this morning in the lobby of the governor’s office. They said they wouldn’t leave unless they got an audience with Governor Beshear. Beshear initially said his schedule wouldn’t permit it, but finally emerged and fielded questions for about 30 minutes. The group wants an end to surface mining in Kentucky, but Beshear says he cannot support that.

“I understand where you’re coming from. I do think we can surface mine in a responsible way and reclaim the land and protect the water,” he said, eliciting laughter from the demonstrators. “I didn’t laugh at you when y’all were talking, so I would appreciate it if you would give me the same respect,” replied Beshear.

Among the protesters, who remained even after the governor went back to work, are author/poet Wendell Berry and novelist Silas House.

“I don’t think that we’re anywhere near the conversation that we’re going to have to have before we’re satisfied.  We represent a side, and it’s an authentic side, with substantive issues that need to be dealt with,” said Berry.

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