Judy Bonds

From Global Energy Monitor

Judy Bonds (1952-2011), from West Virginia, was the director of Coal River Mountain Watch and a coal miner's daughter.[1]

In 2001, Bonds and her family became the last residents to evacuate from her own hometown of Marfork Hollow where six generations of her family had lived. Destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining, residents of Marfolk were forced to flee their homes. Before working on coal issues, Bonds was a waitress and manager at Pizza Hut and worked at other convenience stores.[1]

In a statement describing work for which it awarded Bonds the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2003 for her leadership in opposing mountaintop removal coal mining, the Goldman Environmental Foundation wrote:[1]

Judy Bonds describing the event that made her an activist
Operating from a small storefront on a shoestring budget, Bonds has scored a number of important victories despite enormous industry opposition. Foremost among them is the critical partnership she forged with the United Mine Workers Union over overweight coal trucks. Coal trucks routinely bearing twice the legal load barrel down narrow, steep highways and through towns, endangering drivers, beating up the roads and cracking house foundations. The monster trucks have been responsible for fourteen deaths in the past two years, including a brother and sister who were crushed to death when a coal truck forced their vehicle into another oncoming truck. Thanks to the mineworkers' union and community pressure, Bonds and other activists filled a lawsuit against coal operators that will force companies to haul safe and legal loads. Bonds is currently working with activists to launch a national grassroots campaign that asks people to write postcards to the governor of West Virginia pledging that they will not visit the state until outsized coal trucks are banned.
In a testament to her vigilant monitoring of mining-related violations and advocacy efforts, Bonds has also been instrumental in winning important concessions from the State Mining Board, which recently imposed a 30-day suspension on a polluting Massey mine and set tougher protections for local communities against mine blasting.
These victories have come at a price to her personal safety. Bonds routinely receives threatening, anonymous phone calls that intensify whenever she plans a protest. She and other activists have been threatened by armed security guards on Massey's payroll when they show visitors, including journalists, sites that have been devastated by mining.
Judy Bonds speaking to a crowd of 6000 at PowerShift 2007

The catalyst for her activism, she said, was the day her grandson stood in a stream in Coal River Valley with his fists full of dead fish and asked, "What's wrong with these fish?" [1] Bonds was battling cancer when she died at the age of 58 in January 2011.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Goldman Environmental Prize: Julia Bonds, accessed January 2011)
  2. "W.Va. Mountaintop Mining Foe Judy Bonds Dies at 58" Tim Huber, Associated Press, January 4, 2011.

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