Mountaintop Removal Mining Protests Go National

For Immediate Release

Mountaintop Removal Mining Protests Go National

Across Country Coalition of Environmental Groups Call for EPA to Stop Recent Blasting on Coal River Mountain, WV; Site of Proposed Wind Farm

WASHINGTON - Hundreds are participating today with Mountain Justice, Rainforest
Action Network and other environmental groups in nationwide protests
demanding an end to mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. As part
of the national day of action, 14 people staged a sit-in at the EPA
headquarters in Washington, DC. They were joined by approximately 50
coalfield residents and allies who held a rally in front of the
building. Those in attendance represent a coalition of environmental
groups and Appalachian community members who are asking the EPA to take
immediate action to stop mountaintop removal coal mining. In
particular, the group is asking the EPA to intervene in the destruction
of Coal River Mountain, WV, the site of a potential 328-megawatt wind
farm, which Massey Energy began blasting this week.

While
President Obama spent the week touting his administration’s support for
clean energy, Massey Energy began dynamiting Coal River Mountain in
West Virginia, a national flashpoint in the battle to replace
destructive mountaintop removal coal mining practices with clean energy
and green jobs.

“The fate of Coal River Mountain and our clean
energy future is in the EPA’s hands,” said Kate Rooth of the Rainforest
Action Network who took part in the sit-in. “By intervening to stop the
blasting of Coal River Mountain and to protect our nation’s clean
energy resources, the Obama Administration has a chance to show that it
will stand up for the nation’s new energy priorities and green jobs
even against persistent dirty coal interests; this is how we protect
the economy and the planet.”

In recent months, the EPA has set
out a number of new restrictions on mountaintop mining practices,
including a recent decision to revoke a permit for the Spruce Mine in
West Virginia due to water quality impacts; the first time since the
passing of the Clean Water Protection Act that the agency has revoked
an already approved mining permit. Environmentalists believe that the
urgency of the Coal River Mountain case necessitates that the EPA
intervene, and follow the Spruce Mine precedent.

Coal River
Mountain gained national notoriety after a study showed that its peaks
and ridges have enough wind potential to provide 70,000 households with
electricity, support 700 long-term green jobs and give back $1.7
million in annual county taxes. Over the objections of the local
community, the site has been granted permits for mountaintop removal.
Massey Energy began dynamiting peaks this week, which will destroy any
hope for the proposed wind farm unless the EPA intervenes.

"Every
day, more than 3 million pounds of explosives are detonated in our
state to remove our mountains and expose the thin seams of coal
beneath,” said Bo Webb, a resident of Coal River Valley WV and a
participant in today’s rally. “President Obama, I beg you to re-light
our flame of hope and honor and immediately stop the coal companies
from blasting so near our homes and endangering our lives. As you have
said, we must find another way than blowing off the tops of our
mountains. We must end mountaintop removal.”

If the blasting
at Coal River Mountain is allowed to continue, mountaintop removal coal
mining will destroy one of the last intact mountains in Appalachia. In
the process, it will endanger hundreds of people living in the valley
below, as the project requires blasting dynamite less than 100 yards
from the largest coal sludge impoundment in the country. Massey
Energy’s own assessment indicates that if the impoundment, an earthen
dam, is breached more than eight billion gallons of coal slurry will
spill out endangering hundreds of people who would have less than five
minutes to evacuate.

Called the worst of the worst coal mining,
mountaintop removal decapitates Appalachian peaks, denudes lush
forests, and dumps debris into valley streams -- destroying or damaging
more than a thousand miles of mountain waterways to date.

For more information on the Coal River Mountain wind project:
http://www.coalriverwind.org/?page_id=143

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Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is headquarted in San Francisco, California with offices staff in Tokyo, Japan, and Edmonton, Canada, plus thousands of volunteer scientists, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens around the world. We believe that a sustainable world can be created in our lifetime, and that aggressive action must be taken immediately to leave a safe and secure world for our children.  

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