Skip to content

Register Now to Meet this Year’s Heroes of the Environment


Throwback Thursday: 2009 Goldman Prize Winner Maria Gunnoe

March 6, 2014

Maria Gunnoe was awarded the Goldman Prize in 2009 for leading a campaign against the environmentally devastating practice of mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR).

In the five years since winning the Prize, Gunnoe’s fight has continued to gain momentum, resulting in regional mine closures and stricter regulations for the industry. In the excerpts below, Gunnoe reflects on how winning the Goldman Prize has impacted her work and leadership:

“The Goldman Prize has elevated the mountaintop removal issue to global level. In West Virginia we are historically without access to the outside world. The Goldman Prize has changed this for us in a way that no one else could.

In 2003, Judy Bonds put a new face on environmentalism in the USA when she won the Goldman Prize. Judy gave part of her award money to Coal River Mountain Watch to hire me as an Organizer. In 2009, when I was awarded the Goldman Prize, I gave money to Coal River Mountain Watch to hire others to help their communities. This enabled us to create more community organizers to fight the coal industry in their back yards.

The coal industry and politicians traditionally labeled active community members as ‘environmentalists’ with the thought that it was a bad thing. Thanks to the Goldman Prize, local people have learned to value our culture as one of great uniqueness. It has also given me an opportunity to be a globally recognized leader in the environmental community.”

Gunnoe continues to be a leading voice in the fight against MTR and will be speaking about her experience with the coal industry tonight at a public event, “The Goldman Prize at 25” at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco. For more information CLICK HERE.

Related Posts

Picture of Maxima outside in Peru

Watch Máxima Acuña Documentary in Online Film Festival

June 5, 2020

This June, participate in a digital film festival screening and live Q&A of the film Maxima by Claudia Sparrow. The award-winning documentary follows the story of Goldman Environmental Prize winner Maxima Acuña (Peru, 2016). The online festival is hosted by international NGO Human Rights Watch. Film synopsis: Maxima tells the incredible story of 2016 environmental Goldman Environmental Prize…

Read more

Q&A with Francia Márquez

August 22, 2018

We sit down with Francia Márquez, 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize winner from Colombia, in our latest Q&A. A passionate community leader and activist, Marquez continues to work on a variety of social, political, and environmental issues since winning the Prize in April. Read her Q&A below to learn what motivated her to fight, organize, and…

Read more

In the Field: Visiting Community Leader Francia Márquez in Colombia

August 15, 2018

This is a post by Goldman Environmental Prize Program Officer Ryan Mack, who documents his visit to Cali, Colombia, to meet with 2018 Prize winner Francia Márquez. A formidable leader of the Afro-Colombian community, Márquez organized the women of La Toma and stopped illegal gold mining on their ancestral land. People are a whirl in…

Read more