REI addresses sustainability, mountaintop removal at spring forum

Appalachian State University’s Renewable Energy Initiative (REI) held its spring forum with Larry Gibson, an anti-mountaintop removal activist, in the Summit Trail Solarium April 26.

During the forum, REI members and Gibson advocated for sustainability efforts on campus and spoke about mountaintop removal in West Virginia.

Gibson, a West Virginia native, spoke out about problems with coal mining and the price of energy consumption. Living on a piece of land with large coal deposits, Gibson said he has endured persecution in the form of shootings at his home, trucks driving him off the road and his animals being killed – all for not selling his land to coal companies.

Gibson has been advocating against coal companies and spreading the message about mountaintop removal throughout the country for 30 years.

“You choose to fight for something in your life and then you choose to believe in it,” Gibson said.

Gibson said he has devoted his life to stopping mountaintop removal and keeping his land from being turned into a central location for coal mining. During the forum, Gibson also encouraged students at Appalachian to join the fight against mountaintop removal and the push to find renewable energy sources.

“Get it out there,” Gibson said. “I need your help.”

Gibson said he will continue to spread the word about mountaintop removal and sustainability by traveling around the country.

“Most people are unaware that the electricity we use here in North Carolina comes mostly from coal from West Virginia and, to get that coal, people in West Virginia must make many sacrifices,” REI Public Relations Deputy Benjamin Yoder said.

Appalachian’s campus has played host to multiple sustainability projects, like the wind turbine, Raley Hall solar panels and the current project involving solar thermal panels on top of Summit Hall. Yoder said the REI center will continue to raise awareness about renewable energy and ways students can support a more sustainable campus.

“The REI plans to continue working on putting up renewable energy on campus to wean ourselves off of nonrenewable sources,” Yoder said.

For more information on the REI’s projects, visit

Story: KATIE REULE, Intern News Reporter