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‘Granny D’: Loss of a national environmental leader

“She should have died hereafter” was the lamenting reaction, by King Macbeth in Shakespeare’s tragedy, to being informed of the Queen’s passing away. On the ramparts of Dunsinane Castle which he would defend against an approaching army, he deemed “there would have been a time for such a word” after the battle.
The death of Doris Haddock last month seemed to bring back the echo of Macbeth’s mournful comment. In the passion that motivated her and the strength of activism she brought to bear on it, the retired shoe-factory worker from Dublin, New Hampshire had been an inspiration for citizens all across the nation. On the ramparts, so to speak, for good government during some decades in the latter part of her life, the battles “Granny D” fought aimed to reform the election-financing system and to end the practice of mountaintop mining.
She was a nonagenarian when, in the year 2000, she began a 3,200 mile trek to Washington, to “protest the betrayal of democracy by money in politics.” Over and over, in speeches in the communities she passed, she would cite examples of our “democratic institutions being sold for scrap” when huge corporate campaign cash is “traded for votes [with] no shame.” Where oil and gas, and hosts of other industries, give hundreds of thousands in campaign monies, she would point out, “a free flow of tax benefits [to them] and protections against pollution laws” all too often result. Yet diverting the public wealth in such manner, she would insist, is a condition “we simply cannot afford, as a people or as a planet, to persist.”
Symbolically in words she used her walking stick (or skis) like a bat, swinging at money-dominated politics, unabashed.
After 2002, when “soft monies” were regulated in national law, she turned her passion and amazing energies to environmental matters. Coal and the warming poisons it puts into the atmosphere, she knew, are dangerous to the climate, its large-scale use a reflection of our “mad addiction” to cheap energy. In West Virginia in May 2006, she described as “invading space monsters [the] great electrical shovels” used in surface mining. These, having taken apart and flattened millions of acres of once-beautiful mountains and pushing the rubble into valleys, she said, have destroyed more than a thousand miles of fresh mountain streams.
Granny D was wont to paint dark as well as bright-outcome scenarios for the environmental battles ahead. In the bright vision, the President of the United States, and leaders of other nations would act quickly to curtail resource-exploitation practices of the scale we see today. The young people would encourage political leaders to “opt out of the carbon economy” and, to this end, set sustainable goals in more and more of their respective towns and cities.
On April 1, President Obama through the Environmental Protection Agency put into effect new policies which toughen mining permits, significantly limiting their harm potential to waters and mountain communities. To know this hopeful action, Granny D, “should have died hereafter.”