Mountain top removal...jeez, the name itself gives me the creeps.
Recently the EPA issued new guidelines which were supposed to be oh so strict (as if there could ever be an okay removal of a mountain top to get coal). However, the strict rules are anything but.
Just last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave the Army Corps of Engineers a green light for the Pine Creek mine permit, a mountaintop removal (MTR) mining site in Logan County, W.Va. This is the first permit decision the EPA has issued under the new mountaintop mining guidelines.
“This is a devastating first decision under guidelines that had offered so much hope for Appalachian residents who thought the EPA was standing up for their health and water quality in the face of a horrific mining practice,” said Amanda Starbuck of the Rainforest Action Network. “The grand words being spoken by Administrator Jackson in Washington are simply not being reflected in the EPA’s actions on-the-ground. This continues the inconsistent and contradictory decisions that have plagued the EPA’s process on mountaintop removal coal mining all along.”
The blog "It's Getting Hot in Here" reports, "The Pine Creek Surface Mine permit will allow Coal-Mac, a subsidiary of coal giant Arch Coal, to mine through more than 2 miles of streams that are already suffering dangerous levels of pollution from surface mining (see editors note for more details). Extensive mountaintop removal mining and the subsequent environmental and water quality damage have already ravaged Logan County W.Va., which is the location of the infamous Spruce mine."
As is always the case, so it is in this situation. The people of Appalachia will have to stop mountain top removal.
Appalachia Rising, which will take place on September, 27 2010 in Washington, DC, is a national response to the destruction and poisoning of communities through mountaintop removal coal mining. It follows a long history of social action for a just and sustainable Appalachia, coming directly out of the work of organizations in coalfield states and networks like Mountain Justice.
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Previous Press Releases and Media
- Public Launch Press Conference Report Back, with video
- Press Conference Held on June 15 Announces Appalachia Rising
Press Conference June 15 in Charleston, WV Announces Mass Mobilization Appalachia Rising
WHEN: June 15, 10:00 AM
WHERE: WV State Capitol Back Steps Near Fountain, Charleston, WV
Bo Webb – 304-237-2688 or 304-854-7104
Chuck Nelson – 304-923-5854 or 304-934-0399
Maria Gunnoe – 304-989-9581 or 304-245-8481
Jessie Dodson – 571-274-1115
Martin Mudd – 859-963-5574
Julia Peckinpaugh – 502-417-5753
Kate Rooth – 704-516-0092
WHAT: On June 15 at the capital in Charleston, WV, coalfield residents and allies from across Appalachia will announce Appalachia Rising a mass mobilization set for September 27 in Washington DC. They are calling for thousands to join them in demanding the Obama Administration abolish surface mining and invest in sustainable economic diversification in Appalachia. Groups aim to mobilize thousands from across the country for a dignified day of action in DC to increase public pressure on elected officials and regulators to ban surface mining.
Speakers at the press conference will include:
Vernon Haltom, Coal River Mountain Watch
Bo Webb, Naoma, WV, Veteran
Chuck Nelson, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, retired UMWA coal miner
Maria Gunnoe, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Goldman Environmental Prize Winner
Gordon Simmons, West Virginia Labor History Association
Lorelei Scarbro, Coal River Wind Project
Mickey McCoy, Inez, KY
Laura Steepleton, Climate Ground Zero
Andrew Munn, Mountain Justice
Amber Whittington, Colcord, WV Student Environmental Action Coalition
Reverend Edington, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charleston
Larry Gibson, Kayford Mountain, Mountain Keepers
WHY: The movement to abolish surface mining, in particular mountaintop removal coal mining, has grown tremendously in the last year with hundreds of thousands of advocacy emails, dozens of nonviolent protests resulting in hundreds of arrests, and growing national media attention from the New York Times to the Colbert Report. Recently, the EPA passed strict new guidelines for coal operators practicing mountaintop removal, and even Senator Byrd has recognized national opposition to the practice and voiced concerns about its impact on communities. Despite this progress, mountaintop removal continues to damage and displace coalfield communities throughout southern and central Appalachia
Many see 2010 as the defining moment in the effort to abolish mountaintop removal. With upcoming hearings for the Clean Water Protection Act and the Appalachian Restoration Act as well as midterm elections, coalfield residents and their allies are mobilizing a national call to stop surface mining once and for all.
Every day, across Appalachia, MTR coal companies are literally blowing the tops off the mountains: clear-cutting forests, wiping out natural habitats, poisoning rivers and drinking water, and eliminating entire ecosystems. Not only are these mountains lost forever, but the heritage and the health of families across the region are being sacrificed for a mere 7 percent of the nation’s coal.
Coal companies use MTR mining methods because it allows for almost complete recovery of coal seams while significantly reducing the number of workers required. Appalachia has a wealth of clean energy resources that can be developed to provide new jobs and tax revenues, including wind, solar, low-impact hydro and sustainable biomass. This development can especially support rural areas, which are the hardest hit by the declining economy.
Appalachia Rising is calling for the abolition of surface mining, a just transition for coalfield communities, and renewed investment in a prosperous and just economy in Appalachia.
“It is very obvious that a Massey Energy controlled legislature here in WV is not going to protect our state nor our citizens from mountaintop removal plundering for profit. We have worked long and hard to raise America’s awareness of this injustice, this insane crime that continues to eliminate our mountains, our communities, and our people. Now it is time for Congress to hear the voices of the victims of mountaintop removal!”
The time has come when we all must ask what is the price of a ton of coal. If you use coal fired electricity, then you should know. If you ask the mountain community resident in Appalachia who lives with the atrocities of mountaintop removal coal extraction, I am sure the price will be higher than if you ask a coal executive. All that we have is being sacrificed for thirst for electricity, including the people we love.
“Mountaintop removal threatens real human lives, communities, and local economies in Appalachia, but our state regulators and politicians have turned their back on us. The federal government has only taken half measures and tentative steps. We are going to Washington, DC, to demand justice for the people and to let them know that we are not merely expendable populations.”
Appalachia is rising to defend our communities that are being systematically decimated, rising to oust those who divide us by turning brother against brother and sister against sister while they fleece us of our labor and of our birthright to a better family life and to a better community life where we can live without fear of the mountains being pushed down upon us, while the creeks and rivers, filled with what were once majestic mountains, flow with the poisons of reckless de-construction of the earth.
The Mountain Party of West Virginia challenges the leaders of the Democratic Party and of the Republican Party to join us in serving the people of West Virginia, rather than playing their historical roles of absolutely enabling the enslavement of the people and the theft and destruction of the environmental life support system the people must depend on to sustain them. The Mountain Party of West Virginia challenges the other two political parties to stop serving the economic and environmental rapists who hide behind the veil of corrupt politics- driven by dirty money and dirty elections- and to help bring forth a new kind of politics in the new Appalachia that is rising around us.
Mobilize to End Mountaintop Removal!
September 25 – 27, 2010, Washington DC
Appalachia Rising is a mass mobilization in Washington DC on September 27, 2010 calling for the abolition of mountaintop removal and surface mining. It is a culmination of the national movement against surface mining and a foundation upon which to build a pan-Appalachian movement for prosperity and justice. Coalfield citizens and organizers envision a vibrant mobilization of thousands – coalfield residents, students & youth, Christians & people of all faiths, families, celebrities, underground miners, activists, artists, and all who yearn for justice – to converge on Washington DC for a day of non-violent action and dignified civil disobedience targeting the politicians and agencies who could abolish surface mining with the stroke of a pen.
Appalachia Rising declares that we are not a national sacrifice zone. We will not stand idly by as we see our past and future blasted to rubble, our communities and mountains eliminated, and our neighbors poisoned as coal executives and their shareholders grow rich. Appalachians are not, and never will be, collateral damage. We are proud of our coal mining fathers, hard-working neighbors, and Appalachian past, present and future!
Appalachia is endowed with abundant resources too long plundered by outside interests. We call for the abolition of surface mining, a just transition for coalfield communities, and renewed investment in a prosperous and just economy in Appalachia.
We invite all who share our vision to join with us on September 27, 2010 in our nation’s capitol for an end to mountaintop removal, surface mining, and a renewed vision of Appalachia.
Bo Webb, Naoma, Coal River Valley, WV
Judy Bonds, Rock Creek, Coal River Valley, WV
Junior Walk, Whitesville, Coal River Valley, WV
Andrew Munn, Rock Creek, Coal River Valley, WV
Danny Chiotos, Charleston, WV
Jessie Dodson, Richmond, VA
Vernon Haltom, Princeton, WV
Chuck Nelson, Sylvester, WV
Lorelei Scarbro, Rock Creek, WV
Joe Gorman, Morgantown, WV