Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A little bit of good news about Coal River Mountain

I just read this blog item by Ken Ward Jr., dated November 20 from the West Virginia Gazette, which I quote in full below. But go to the link to read the comments. Also be sure to watch the video and check the link to I Love Mountains to see videos about mountaintop removal and take action to stop this!
EPA taking closer look at Coal River Mountain mining
An interesting development just in concerning Massey Energy’s Bee Tree Mine, the Southern West Virginia operation where environmentalists had hoped to put a wind energy facility instead of a mountaintop removal job.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials are investigating the Bee Tree site, examining Massey’s operation there without first obtaining a “dredge-and-fill” permit under Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act.

Yesterday, EPA regional officials in Philadelphia sent this letter to Massey’s Marfork Coal Co. subsidiary, seeking a long list of information about the Bee Tree operations.

Recall that Massey made a change in its surface mining permit from the state that the company apparently believed allowed it to — at least at this point — not need a 404 permit that could face EPA scrutiny before it would be approved by the federal Army Corps of Engineers. Massey had applied for a 404 permit, but then withdrew that application.

According to the new EPA letter, federal officials visited the site earlier this month and now are concerned that the site does need a 404 permit. The letter cautions Massey:
The activities underway at the site do not appear to have independent utility from the proposed mining project that is the subject of the Section 404 permit application. EPA is concerned that Marfork Coal Company may be committing signficant resources and conducting operations in reliance on a Section 404 permit that has not been issued. The Corps has not yet made a determination of jurisdictional waters and we have some concern that ongoing activities at the site could impact such waters if sufficient precautions are not exercised.

Updated: Massey General Counsel Shane Harvey tells me the company has received EPA’s letter and is reviewing it.
I will keep you posted here about what happens at Coal River Mountain and other locations.

Save America's Most Endangered Mountains

See a Google map where the destruction is very obvious, with links to more video at ilovemountains.org/endangered/#.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Save Coal River Mountain!

Once again I am writing about Coal River Mountain. I get to see the new movie about it on Wednesday at a houseparty, and expect to find it both hopeful and devastating (just like mountaintop removal.) This picture shows the impoundment of toxic mining wastes, which lies directly above a village and a school. The vibrations of the blasts at Coal River Mountain could cause the dam to break down (it's happened before elsewhere) and inundate the school and the village. The article where I found the picture is at Earthbytes: Save Coal River Mountain, providing excellent background information. Then they ask you to go to I Love Mountains / Coal River, where there is a petition to the important people in the EPA, asking them to stop the blasting.

Please take action!
Save Coal River Mountain today

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"On Coal River" four minute trailer

Urge the Obama administration to help save
Coal River Mountain

I received this email from NRDC:
Rising above a picturesque valley in southern West Virginia, like an oasis in the midst of coal country, Coal River Mountain represents the last, best hope for a community resisting the legacy of dirty energy in this part of Appalachia. For the past two years, local residents have been waging a fight against time -- and an industry behemoth -- to save their beloved mountain from the fate of mountaintop removal coal mining.

Mountaintop removal strip mining has leveled hundreds of other Appalachian peaks already, leaving scarred landscapes, polluted water and impoverished communities. But creative residents proposed a clean energy alternative that would keep the last remaining mountain in the Coal River valley intact. Their proposed wind farm would place 200 turbines on a ridge that would power more than 70,000 homes with clean electricity, provide hundreds of much-needed jobs and pump millions of dollars into the local economy through the project's construction and operation, as well as annual tax revenue.

Local politicians, however, have once again succumbed to industry influence by rejecting this obvious windfall to the community. Recently, Massey Energy -- the nation's fourth-largest coal company -- began blasting on Coal River Mountain in preparation for a massive mountaintop removal operation. This mountain has the highest peaks ever slated for mining in the state; turning it into a pile of rubble would lower the elevation by several hundred feet, eliminating the height required to tap the wind speeds necessary to spin turbines.

West Virginia's governor has ignored requests to stop the blasting, but it's not too late for the Obama administration to step in and save Coal River Mountain from the fate of so many others in America's oldest mountain range.

What to do

Send a message right away urging the Environmental Protection Agency to immediately halt the blasting on Coal River Mountain.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mountaintop Removal hasn't stopped yet

Unfortunately even though the EPA has at least temporarily halted a lot of MTR projects for environmental studies, there are a lot of permits out there to be acted on. The website I Love Mountains keeps track of what is happening, and provides information about how to help. You can read about the new destruction at Coal River Mountain on I Love Mountains and Coal River Wind. As you can see in the video, Coal River Wind is working toward the most obvious solution - using those mountaintops for windmills instead of destroying them. This will also provide much needed jobs in a clean industry.

If you are a teacher, you can find a lot of classroom resources about mountaintop removal on I Love Mountains as well.