Maria was born in Boone County, West Virginia, where she continues to reside. She is a Cherokee native. Her family has lived in the West Virginia for generations, and she comes from a long line of coal miners.
Gunnoe became involved in activism in 1997 as a volunteer. She expanded her efforts in the 2000s, when a coal company started a mountaintop removal mine near her home. The mining caused pollution and dangerous flooding near her home, leaving her home nearly washed away. The water near her home was also rendered contaminated. To protect her home, Gunnoe decided that she would start activist work against the coal company and mountaintop mining. She has continued to be active in advocating against mountaintop mining despite receiving both threats and acts of violence, including having her dog shot and killed. She has become an organizer for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and SouthWings, a company that conducts flights to show aerial views and photography of mountaintop mining and mountaintop removal. In 2007, she testified against the Army Corps of Engineers in a suit brought against them by the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition to stop mountaintop removal. She gathered 20 residents to testify with her. She now serves on the board of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, and advocates to protect the Monongahela National Forest from natural gas extraction.
Honors & Appearances
- In 2005, Gunnoe received the Environmental Courage Award from the West Virginia Environmental Council.
- In 2006, Gunnoe received the Callaway Award for her organizing efforts in her southern West Virginia community.
- In 2007, she also received the David Vs. Goliath Award from the Rainforest Action Network.
- In 2009 Gunnoe received the Goldman Environmental Prize, which is the second time an environmentalist has been awarded a Goldman Prize for fighting coal mining operations in West Virginia. In 2003, Julia Bonds won a Goldman for opposing the controversial practice of mountaintop removal in Appalachia.
- In October 2012, Gunnoe received the University of Michigan's Wallenberg Medal, and was the first person to receive the award for environmentalist work.
Gunnoe is featured in the:
- 2008 documentary film Burning the Future: Coal in America,
- the 2007 documentary film Mountain Top Removal, and the
- 2011 documentary film The Last Mountain.
- 2009 interview with Maria Gunnoe about mountaintop mining and her activism
- Mariah Gunnoe's testimony in a 2012 Subcommitee on Energy and Mineral Resources Oversight hearing
- Smith, Vicki (22 April 2009). "Mountaintop mining activist wins global award". Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
- "Maria Gunnoe 2009 Goldman Prize Recipient North America". The Goldman Environmental Prize. The Goldman Environmental Prize. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
- "Mountain Heroes: Mariah Gunnoe". EarthJustice. EarthJustice. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
- "Maria Gunnoe". Global Justice Ecology Project. Global Justice Ecology Project. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
- Harris, Paul (16 January 2005). "They flattened this mountaintop to find coal - and created a wasteland". The Observer. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
- "Maria Gunnoe: The Mountaintop Warrior". Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
- Paulson, Amanda (January 3, 2006). "In coal country, heat rises over latest method of mining". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
- "2012, Maria Gunnoe". Wallenberg Legacy. Wallenberg Legacy. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
- "U.S. Activist Battles West Virginia Coal Industry". Worldwatch Institute. Worldwatch Institute. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
- "West Virginia's Wonder Women". West Virginia Focus. West Virginia Focus. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
- "The Shafeek Nader Trust for the Community Interest Presents the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage on Thursday December 14, 2006". Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. December 14, 2006. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
- Woman Wins Environmental Prize for Fighting Mining Problems
- "Burning the Future: Coal in America (2008)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
|Awards and achievements|
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