Coal Activist Questioned About Child Porn After Showing Innocuous Bathtime Photo at Hearing

By most accounts, Maria Gunnoe is a pretty swell lady. She's a coal activist who's won prizes for her efforts to stop mountaintop removal coal mining, and just last week she went to Washington, D.C. to talk to the House Committee on Natural Resources. Gunnoe was in our nation's capital to plead her case on behalf of her West Virginia neighbors suffering through coal-related water pollution.

And, if you were going to listen to the Republican Party tell it, she also likes to dabble in child pornography. Part of Gunnoe's testimony included a professional photographer's shot of a child in rusty, contaminated bathwater to illustrate, you know, her point about water pollution (she'd gotten consent to use the photo from the child's parents).

The panel decided the risqué photo should not be used in her testimony, and so Gunnoe proceeded with all the other damning photos she'd brought. On her way out she was intercepted by Capitol Police after "Republican members of the panel had suggested that she be questioned about child pornography." Low blow. You can see the photo, in all it's perversity here. (At your own risk, nsfw, omg, rofl. Not really.)

Here is photographer Katie Falkenberg's caption on the photo in question:

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 the problem, but they do supply the family with bottled water for drinking and cooking.

But this, you see, is a story about child pornography.

[via Grist and TheNewInquiry; image via AP]