About the Tour

The Back Story

Several years ago I decided that the best and only way I could provide for my family was the same way the last three generations of my family had, working in the underground coal mines. Few jobs in the area could be considered a career, and though I knew the coal industry had its ups and downs, it seemed the best option. Most of all, I wanted my children to grow up on Georges Fork, the tenth generation of our family to do so, to have the same kind of childhood I had, playing in the creeks and hiking through the woods we called home.

Georges Fork - Photo by Nick Mullins
At first, I was proud to carry on a family tradition, to work a dangerous job and prove to people that I could be just as tough as the rest them. But life has the tendency to give us a wakeup call when we seem to need it most, and now I understand a much bigger picture. I can see clearly the toll coal has taken on our mountain communities, from separating people and creating enemies of good hearted folks, to the damage that has been done (and continues being done) to the mountains we call home. 

I realize many of these wounds can never be healed. Our waters are contaminated by coal pollution from decades of mining and processing. The valley I once trusted to raise my family in is no longer a safe place for our children as cancer rates continue rising at home and throughout central Appalachia. With shattered hopes, we had to leave the only place our hearts could truly call home.

Today, we are on a mission to speak out, to tell others, and to make the personal connections between our nation’s demand for cheap energy and cheap steel, and the high prices other must pay for it. We are finding other communities who have suffered as we have and we share in their pain and hope for a better day. 

The Tour

The Breaking Clean Tour is a road trip for our entire family meant to share stories and knowledge, bring together communities, encourage a just transition, and find hope where sometimes little remains.

As a family, we will spend time in each community we visit as we journey across North America, making connections, creating friendships, volunteering, and learning how people are working to help  one another. We will share our story of Appalachian history, coal mining, and our transformation while teaching about the mountain top removal that occurred and continues to occur in our valley.

Breaking Clean 2015

This year, we are heading to the Pacific Northwest as tensions rise surrounding coal export terminals meant to expand mining in the Powder River Coal Basin of Eastern Montana and Northeastern Wyoming.  Like in Appalachia, people are trapped between coal and economy as the industry plays the "jobs vs. the environment" card, creating conflict between those looking to protect the health of their communities, and the blue collar workers just trying to make ends meet. We're hoping to shed light on both sides and to realize a future where it doesn't have to be this way.

A just transition awaits us all; we can work together to create a better future. We can find alternatives  that won't require taking from some of the best and most hard working people in this country AND we can give all of our children a chance at a healthier life.

For more information about the upcoming tour and our past tour go to:
Please join us. 

The Mullins Family


  1. This is great, Nick! I am impressed, proud, and supportive of this initiative you and your family are taking. This is truly inspirational and I wish you a safe and successful tour!

  2. stephanie langleyJune 11, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    thank you for vising the Sierra Club group in Knoxville last night. I wanted to tell you all that your bravery and courage is contagious and I needed a dose so, thanks. God speed.

  3. Hi, Is a tour planned for 2016? Is Florida, especially Tampa area, a possible stop?