Sep 30: EPA: All 79 mining permits need more review

This June 12, 2008 photo shows water which is seeping from an abandoned mine on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia. Photographer: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

CHARLESTON, WV -- "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just issued the following statement regarding its ongoing review of mountaintop removal mining permits in Appalachia: After a careful evaluation of these surface coal mining projects, EPA determined that each of them, as currently proposed, is likely to result in significant harm to water quality and the environment and are therefore not consistent with requirements of the CWA.  EPA and the Corps have developed a joint enhanced coordination process that establishes a schedule and procedures for the evaluation of these 79 permits. The Corps of Engineers is now responsible under the coordination process for beginning the next stage of discussions with EPA and the mining companies to reduce anticipated environmental and water quality impacts," Ken Ward Jr., West Virginia Gazette.

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. EPA delays 79 mountaintop-shearing coal permits, Jim Efstathiou Jr., Bloomberg News.

Sep 28: EPA announces major science review of mountaintop removal

CHARLESTON, WV -- "The Obama administration is quietly putting together plans for a major new scientific study of the environmental impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining. On Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a notice seeking nominations for scientists to serve on an ad hoc panel to 'provide expert advice to the EPA on a draft assessment of the ecological impacts' of mountaintop removal... The Obama administration has already promised to take 'unprecedented steps' to reduce the damaging environmental impact from mountaintop removal across the Appalachian coalfields," Ken Ward Jr., West Virginia Gazette.

Sep 24: 30,062 handwritten letters and other messages demand a Congressional ban on mountaintop removal coal mining

Elisa Young, founder of Meigs Citizens Action Now, left, discusses mining issues with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz on September 12.
COLUMBUS -- "Ohio Citizen Action members and friends from thirteen states have sent 30,062 handwritten letters, messages, and children's pictures to their Congressional representatives calling for a ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. Bills have been introduced into both the House and the Senate which would effectively ban this atrocity. The messages call for House members to co-sponsor H.R. 1310, and Senators co-sponsor S. 696. In addition, current co-sponsors can urge their colleagues to become co-sponsors, tour mining ravaged communities in Appalachia, speak with the media, and urge Senate and House leadership to move this legislation quickly. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown was a co-sponsor of this ban when he was a member of the U.S. House. As a Senator, Brown has repeatedly stated that he does not have enough information to decide whether to co-sponsor the bill. On September 12, Senator Brown attended the Ohio premiere of Coal Country, a documentary about what mountaintop removal coal mining is doing to the jobs and communities of Central Appalachia," Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

Sep 22: Protecting mountains

WINSTON-SALEM, NC -- "The Environmental Protection Agency, after years of abuses under the Bush administration, is back on the right track with its plans to give further environmental review to 79 permits for mountaintop removal mining. But what's really needed is an end to this practice. This form of mining blasts the tops off mountains. It's a severe form of strip mining, which the Journal has long opposed. In the 1970s, investigative articles in the Journal and its now defunct sister paper, the Sentinel, played a leading role in stopping a company's efforts to introduce strip mining to Northwest North Carolina. Strip mining and mountaintop mining destroy the beauty of mountains and reduce property values. The mining also ravages ecosystems, including watersheds," editorial, Winston-Salem Journal.

Sep 14: The real deal
Daryl Hannah takes on coal (and every other eco-cause)

ESCONDIDO, CA -- "These times can be overwhelming, as we are facing so many crises. But how do you hide two million acres of leveled, decimated land? How can coal companies think that it’s acceptable to have blown off over 500 mountain tops and dump the rubble into the valleys below, killing over 3,000 miles of headwater streams? Mountaintop removal (MTR) is happening in extremely economically depressed areas with the vast majority being in southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. In these areas, people don’t have a loud voice, or the resources to let the world know, raise hell and fight it…and these communities are dying fast. The towns are getting boarded up and their jobs disappearing as quickly as the viable land and water around them. Due to the heavy machinery involved less manpower is needed, so 75% of mining jobs have already been lost to the machines and explosives," Daryl Hannah interviewed by Britta Belli, E Magazine.

Sep 13: Clean water laws are neglected, at a cost in suffering

Jennifer Hall-Massey relies on drinking water that is brought in by truck and stored in barrels on her porch near Charleston, W.Va.

CHARLESTON, WV -- "When Mrs Hall-Massey and 264 neighbors sued nine nearby coal companies, accusing them of putting dangerous waste into local water supplies, their lawyer did not have to look far for evidence. As required by state law, some of the companies had disclosed in reports to regulators that they were pumping into the ground illegal concentrations of chemicals. But state regulators never fined or punished those companies for breaking those pollution laws. This pattern is not limited to West Virginia. Almost four decades ago, Congress passed the Clean Water Act to force polluters to disclose the toxins they dump into waterways and to give regulators the power to fine or jail offenders. States have passed pollution statutes of their own. But in recent years, violations of the Clean Water Act have risen steadily across the nation," Charles Duhigg, New York Times.

Sep 12: Julian Martin:
West Virginia family has always resisted 'skinners'

Julian Martin

CHARLESTON, WV -- "One of our family stories is that a Mr. Skinner came up Coal River from St. Albans buying mineral rights at rock bottom prices. He made his 'generous' offer to my ancestor who told him, 'You are Skinner by name and you are Skinner by trade, but you will not skin old Isaac Barker.' Consequently my uncle owns 40 acres with the mineral rights intact on Big Coal River in Boone County. Mountaintop removal strip-mining is closing in from all directions on our beautiful farm. The farm has 10 acres of fertile bottom land and a barn built in 1917 by lumber washed ashore in the 1916 flood. The ridge running toward our farm and parallel to Big Coal River from Ashford to Bull Creek is being destroyed. Andrew Jordon's Pritchard Coal is tearing it to pieces," Julian Martin, op-ed commentary, Charleston Gazette.

Sep 12: U.S. EPA review could delay mine projects

Dispatch graphic COLUMBUS -- "Plans to create new strip mines in eastern Ohio might be put on hold while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigates pollution threats to streams. Officials with the U.S. EPA said yesterday that they are considering 'detailed reviews' of 79 proposals to build new coal mines and expand mining operations at other sites, most of which would be located in Kentucky and West Virginia. In Ohio, the list includes four strip mines proposed by Oxford Mining Co.; a proposed Ohio American Energy strip mine; and a coal-washing plant that the Buckingham Coal Co. wants to build in Perry County," Spencer Hunt, Columbus Dispatch.

Sep 11: U.S. EPA releases preliminary results for surface coal mining permit reviews

WASHINGTON, DC -- "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has identified 79 proposed surface coal-mining projects in Appalachian states for further, detailed reviews of their pending permits. The [Army Corps of Engineers] and EPA will work together during this review process to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act and the protection of this nation’s public health and environment. . . . The 79 pending permit applications on which EPA focused are for proposed surface coal mining operations in 4 Appalachian states. EPA’s initial review concluded that all of the projects would likely cause water quality impacts requiring additional review under the Clean Water Act," Enesta Jones, Office of Public Affairs, U.S. EPA.

Sep 11: 26,803 messages to Congress: Ban mountaintop removal coal mining;
NC Congressman Melvin Watt becomes 156th co-sponsor of ban

Melvin Watt

Congressman Melvin Watt (D - Charlotte/Winston-Salem, North Carolina).

COLUMBUS -- "Since June 17, Ohio Citizen Action members and friends have sent 26,803 handwritten letters, messages, and children’s illustrations to Congress telling them to ban mountaintop removal coal mining. In the House, H.R. 1310, and in the Senate, S. 696, would effectively ban this mining method. Five members of the Ohio Congressional delegation are currently co-sponsors: Dennis Kucinich, Betty Sutton, Tim Ryan, Marcia Fudge, and Mary Jo Kilroy. Neither Ohio Senator George Voinovich nor Sherrod Brown is a co-sponsor. Although Brown co-sponsored a ban when he was in the U.S. House, he now tells constituents he doesn't know enough about the bill to have an opinion," Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

Sep 11: Akron producer brings emotional coal documentary to Civic Theatre

Mari-Lynn Evans

Mari-Lynn Evans, 'Coal Country' Executive Producer.

AKRON -- "Tears spatter Coal Country, the new documentary having its Ohio premiere Saturday in Akron's Civic Theatre. The documentary is nominally about the coal industry, including the controversies surrounding how coal is mined, especially the controversial and devastating mountaintop-removal system. But it is also about the breakdown in communities, whether because of the destruction of land and the health hazards affecting coal towns, or the personal divisions between people on different sides of the coal debate. And the tears flow from both sides," Rich Heldenfels, Akron Beacon Journal.

Sep 10: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown still mum on co-sponsoring mountaintop removal ban

At the Cincinnati AFL-CIO annual labor day picnic on Monday, Nathan Rutz greeted U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, saying "I am a life-long Ohioan with family from Southeast Ohio, and I'm concerned about mountaintop removal." Brown replied "I'm concerned about it, too." When Rutz asked why he hadn't co-sponsored S. 696, the Appalachian Restoration Act, which would ban mountaintop removal, Brown said he didn't know enough about the bill. In fact, when he was in the U.S. House, Brown knew enough about it to co-sponsor a similar bill. S. 696 is 90 words long; the whole bill can be read in less than a minute. In the photo above, Brown studies a flyer headlined, "Why, Sen. Brown?" More than 10,000 Ohioans have sent Brown handwritten letters urging him to co-sponsor S. 696.

Sep 9: Rainforest Action Network
Over 19,000 inspired to end mountaintop removal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- "About a month ago, we started a petition asking EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to go on a flyover of Appalachia and see the devastation wrought by mountaintop removal for herself. The response has been OVERWHELMING to say the least. Our goal was set at 12,000, but we’ve achieved that and more. So next week, we’re going to cordially deliver these petitions to Lisa Jackson at EPA headquarters in Washington D.C. and politely ask her to visit Appalachia and see mountaintop removal for herself. The devastation is out of hand and needs to be stopped," Rainforest Action Network.

Sep 9: EPA moves to block West Virginia's largest mining permit

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Citing 'clear evidence' of likely environmental damage, the Obama administration has moved toward revoking the largest mountaintop-removal permit in West Virginia history. Late last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urged the federal Army Corps of Engineers to revoke or suspend the corps' approval of a Clean Water Act permit for Arch Coal Inc.'s Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County... In a five-page letter, Early cited the Spruce Mine's 'potential to degrade downstream water quality,' the need for the company to give 'serious consideration' to reducing valley fill size, and scientific studies that show mine operators cannot effectively replace the environmental functions of streams buried by mining waste," Ken Ward Jr., West Virginia Gazette.

CHARLESTON, WV -- Obama seeks to block record mountaintop removal permit, Ken Ward Jr., Coal Tattoo, West Virginia Gazette.

Sep 4: National Public Radio's Diane Rehm Show:
U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on the defensive on mountaintop removal

WASHINGTON, DC -- "U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson found herself struggling to explain the Obama Admininstration's policy on mountaintop removal coal mining yesterday on National Public Radio's Diane Rehm Show. In response to questions from Ohio Citizen Action's Kate Russell and Guest Host Susan Page, Jackson said "we should uphold science" and agreed with Russell that the scientific research shows that mountaintop removal sites could not be reclaimed. She could not, however, state what the Obama policy on mountaintop removal is."

"At one point it was not clear that Jackson understood what mountaintop removal coal mining was. Jackson said she had never seen a mountaintop removal site: "I have not yet seen it with my own eyes." Then she compared mountaintop removal first to strip mining and then to mining methods in Wyoming, neither of which are comparable," Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.
Sep 2: More selenium problems: Violations found at Kentucky mines

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Here in West Virginia, a leading scientist has warned state regulators that selenium pollution from mountaintop removal mining has pushed the Mud River watershed to 'the brink of a major toxic event.' .... Now, evidence has surfaced that there are growing selenium problems in the coalfields over in Kentucky — and allegations that regulators there sat on the information until they got a new, industry-wide general permit approved without selenium limits or comprehensive selenium monitoring," Ken Ward Jr., Coal Tattoo, West Virginia Gazette.

Aug 27: 10,452 Letters to Sen. Sherrod Brown: Co-sponsor a ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. Senator still mum
24,015 letters to Congress so far

Senator Sherrod Brown
"New energy" advocate Sen. Sherrod Brown still hasn't co-sponsored the ban on mountaintop removal coal mining, and won't say whether he even supports it.

COLUMBUS -- "Since June 17, Ohio Citizen Action members and friends from Ohio, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and West Virginia have sent their Congresspeople and Senators 24,015 messages, letters, and childrens' illustrations, calling for a ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. Of these, 10,452 have gone to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, urging him to co-sponsor the ban, S. 696 .  On July 23, Ohio Citizen Action asked why Brown was being so evasive on this issue. Since then, he has neither co-sponsored the bill, nor explained why not. The most egregious form of surface mining, mountaintop removal coal mining irreversibly damages the environment, surrounding communities, and drinking water supplies.  Reclamation of these sites is impossible," Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

Aug 25: Call to artists and activists for Labor Day weekend at Kayford Mountain

KAYFORD MOUNTAIN, WV -- "Keeper of the Mountains, Larry Gibson has put out a call for musicians, entertainers and mountain-huggers from everywhere to join him at his family place on Kayford Mountain for a celebration this Labor Day weekend. For over 20 years, Larry has worked to stop mountaintop removal coal mining and has kept his family land intact under the encroaching threat of Massey Energy’s nearby mountaintop mining sites. Kayford Mountain is located near Cabin Creek, approximately 35 miles southeast of Charleston. For more information about the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation or the Labor Day event, visit or call 304-542-1134,” Melissa English, Southern Ohio Campaign Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

Aug 21: The Clock has Started Ticking on Mountaintop Removal Mining Permits

WASHINGTON, DC -- "If you'll remember, early in the Obama Administration, the EPA announced it would be reviewing all mountaintop removal mining permits before approving any -- a sign of what we thought was perhaps the beginning of the end for the destructive practice that levels mountain peaks, poisons drinking water and destroys communities. But now, the floodgates could potentially be opened wide for extensive new mountaintop removal operations. The EPA will be making decisions on dozens of permits as soon as mid-September, and letting the permits go forward would set a very dangerous precedent. If these new permits for mountaintop removal coal mining are approved, the Obama administration will be lighting the fuse for a new round of blasting, flooding, and water contamination for the communities of Appalachia," Bruce Nilles and Mary Anne Hitt, Huffington Post. Published August 20.

Ohio premier of Mari-Lynn Evans’ Coal Country

Coal CountryAKRON -- "Coal Country, a finalist in the prestigious Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, will premier on Saturday, September 12 at the Akron Civic theater. Join actress Darryl Hannah, county music singer Kathy Mattea, whose songs are featured in the movie, homegrown activist Elisa Young, featured in the film, invited guest Robert Kennedy, Jr., and Akron’s own filmmaker, Executive Producer of Coal Country, Mari-Lynn Evans. This film will no doubt inform Americans of the extreme nature of this quest for cheap energy and the consequences it has for one of our nation’s poorest regions," Kate Russell, Ohio Citizen Action.

Aug 19: New resource: Where does your legislator stand on mountaintop removal coal mining?

COLUMBUS -- "Mountaintop removal coal mining impacts more than just coal field residents. Every time we turn on the lights, we are using coal mined partly through mountaintop removal coal mining. Though it only accounts for 4.8% of our nation’s electricity, mountaintop removal leaves complete devastation behind it. We can all help stop this practice through a congressional ban. This new resource allows you to look up every U.S. Congressperson and Senator and whether or not they are a co-sponsor of a ban. It shows whether they are on a key committee for the legislation, and how your can contact them. The web page also gives suggestions for co-sponsors to make sure this legislation passes as quickly as possible. Share this resource with your family, your neighbors, your religious community, co-workers, friends, etc, to maximize its impact,” Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

Aug 14: What will Obama do now about mountaintop removal?

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Where’s the transparency? And where are the concrete guidelines for what is and isn’t allowed for a mining permit to be approved or rejected? If Obama is going to ban mountaintop removal, or enact policies so stringent that permits slow to a trickle and the faucet eventually shuts off, it should do those things in an open, transparent way. If it’s instead simply going to toughen a few policies here and there to limit the damage, it should likewise be open about that. As Joe Lovett, executive director of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment said the other day: 'What the administration has to do is develop a policy and let everyone know what that policy is,'" Ken Ward, Jr., Coal Tattoo.

Aug 13: Federal court blocks Interior Department attempt to address mountaintop removal coal mining
Bold action needed to end destruction, fully protect communities and streams

WASHINGTON, DC -- "The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia today rejected an attempt by the Department of Interior to reverse the Bush Administration’s devastating last-minute weakening of the stream buffer zone rule, a key protection for waterways near mountaintop removal coal mines. A coalition of organizations including the Sierra Club had challenged the Bush Administration's actions and had praised the Department of Interior for attempting to reverse the rule," press release, Sierra Club.

Aug 12: 16,149 Ohio Citizen Action members and friends tell Congress: Ban mountaintop removal

Ohio Citizen Action staff collected letters against mountaintop removal

COLUMBUS -- "As of August 7, 16,149 Ohio Citizen Action members and friends from Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and West Virginia have written their Congress members calling for a ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. Mountaintop removal is the most devastating form of surface mining, devastating the environment and communities of Central Appalachia. These letters, messages, and children's illustrations urge Congress to ban mountaintop removal by co-sponsoring either H.R. 1310, the Clean Water Protection Act, or S. 696, the Appalachian Restoration Act. Representatives and Senators who are already co-sponsors are being urged to enlist House and Senate colleagues who have not yet co-sponsored to do so, press House and Senate leaders for prompt action in committee and on the floor, speak out on the House and Senate floor, to reporters, and in their district, and tour ravaged areas of the Appalachians with House and Senate colleagues," Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

Aug 12: Music for the Mountains at Northside Tavern

Photos from CityBeat

Aug 12: Mining protesters deserve protection

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Why haven't West Virginia officials condemned violence directed toward opponents of mountaintop removal? I attended a June 23 rally at Marsh Fork and heard numerous death threats hurled at the speakers. I also witnessed an attack on Judy Bonds. Over the July 4 weekend at Kayford Mountain, laid-off Massey workers terrorized festival participants. In a video viewable online, you can hear one of the assaulters threaten to slit the throats of a man's two young children," John Palmer, letter to the editor, West Virginia Gazette. Published July 30.

Aug 11: Army Corps of Engineers approves permit for controversial WV mountaintop removal coal mine
Decision opens the door for more destruction in Appalachia

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Today the public learned that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a Clean Water Act permit last week for Consol Energy’s Peg Fork mountaintop removal coal mine in Mingo County, West Virginia. This controversial decision marks the first time during the Obama administration that the Army Corps approved a mine permit to which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had previously objected, opening the door for many new mountaintop removal coal mines in Appalachia. The decision to allow this operation to proceed also demonstrates the Department of Interior's lack of will to enforce the clear mandates of a critical Surface Mining Act regulation," press release, Sierra Club.

Aug 11: Are Endangered Species Being Sacrificed for Coal in Appalachia?
Special rules in coal country and tacit cooperation from some environmentalists has allowed mountaintop removal and other destructive practices to proceed

NEW YORK, NY -- "The last ice age turned the Appalachians into North America's Noah's Ark. The mountain peaks provided a last green refuge above the glaciers, drawing species from across the eastern half of continent. Some 10,000 years later, many have stayed, and the mountains are home to one of the highest concentrations of biodiversity -- from flying squirrels to freshwater mussels -- in the country... The lucrative coal is obtained through mountaintop removal -- dynamiting the tops off the mountains and dumping the leftovers into mountain valleys and stream beds. Environmental groups say the practice is horribly destructive to the region's water, land and wildlife -- but they have been reluctant to use a powerful weapon, the Endangered Species Act, in fighting it," Patrick Reis, Scientific American.

Aug 10: Music for the Mountains benefit a great success

Magnolia Mountain performs at the Music for the Mountains benefit

CINCINNATI -- "Thanks to the efforts of six outstanding musical acts, three generous sponsors and dozens of volunteers, the Music for the Mountains benefit last Sunday was an absolute triumph. Approximately 250 people made up the standing room only crowd for most of the event, which also featured a photo exhibit, 'Mountaintop Removal Comes Home,' and a down-home cakewalk. Organizers Teri Blanton and Scott Goebel of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth shared from the stage information and stories of coal field residents’ fight to protect their communities and their way of life. $2,500 was raised for Ohio Citizen Action’s campaign to end mountaintop removal and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth also welcomed six new members to their fold. Special thanks to sponsors Shake It Records, WNKU FM 89.7 and the Northside Tavern," Melissa English, Southern Ohio Campaign Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

More photos

Aug 10: Power politics: Obama's gift to the mining industry

DURHAM, NC -- "President Obama's pick to head the federal agency that regulates coal mining has drawn fire from environmental watchdogs, who point out that the nominee in his current role as a state regulator has promoted an environmentally destructive practice known as longwall mining and encouraged dangerous disposal practices for toxic coal ash waste. The controversial candidate for the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement chief is Joseph Pizarchik, who has led the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Mining and Reclamation since 2002" Sue Sturgis, Facing South.

Aug 7: Obama's OSM pick dodges questions on mountaintop removal

CHARLESTON, WV -- "President Obama's choice to be the nation's top strip-mining regulator said Thursday he needs to learn more about mountaintop removal coal mining before he can comment on whether it needs to be more strictly policed. Joseph G. Pizarchik declined to offer his views on the practice and its regulation during a U.S. Senate committee hearing on his nomination as director of the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. Pizarchik also declined to answer questions about an Obama administration proposal to make major changes in the federal Abandoned Mine Lands program, but defended his record in Pennsylvania regulating the dumping of toxic coal ash at mining sites," Ken Ward, Jr., Charleston Gazette.

Aug 5: B. Dan Berger: Conservationists must oppose mountaintop removal

CHARLESTON, WV -- "As a proud life member of Trout Unlimited, I am urging our organization and all conservation-minded people to take a stronger, more aggressive stance on a destructive form of coal mining: mountaintop removal. As many are aware, this despicable form of coal mining is where entire mountains are literally removed so seams of coal are exposed. This type of mining destroys families and communities as well as our diverse and fragile environment and coldwater fisheries... It is time for Trout Unlimited and other conservation groups to more strongly urge our state and federal officials to pass laws and promulgate rules that ban mountaintop removal for coal mining before it is too late," Op-Ed, B. Dan Berger, West Virginia Gazette.

Aug 4: Obama's green credentials tested by battle against mountaintop mining
James Hansen and Darryl Hannah among those opposing open-cast coal extraction that destroys mountains and forests

Larry Gibson

KAYFORD MOUNTAIN, WV -- "Kayford Mountain, or what Gibson calls his home place, is one of the frontline positions in an epic confrontation between the coal industry and a broad coalition of local activists, environmental organisations, national figures and Hollywood celebrities. The struggle against mountaintop removal is also proving an uncomfortable test of Barack Obama's green credentials. The US administration has frustrated environmentalists who had relied on the president to ban a practice that devastates landscapes and uproots hundreds of local communities," Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian.

Aug 4: Samples update: High-profile mountaintop removal mine shutting down

CHARLESTON, WV -- "As much as any mining operation in Appalachia, the Samples Mine has been at the center of the debate over mountaintop removal. In large part, that’s because parts of it are visible from a public road far up Cabin Creek and from Larry Gibson’s family cemetery at Kayford. Photos from Larry’s place have appeared in news media around the world. Now, as first reported in this morning’s Charleston Gazette, the mine’s current owner, Patriot Coal Corp., is shutting down — at least for now," Ken Ward Jr., Coal Tattoo, West Virginia Gazette.

CHARLESTON, WV -- Patriot Coal to close Samples Mine; 314 jobs eliminated, Ken Ward Jr. and Jon Offredo, West Virginia Gazette. Published August 2.

Aug 3: Tennessee needs tourists but not threats

KNOXVILLE, TN -- "U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander recently struck a mighty blow for environmentalism and Tennessee tourism in one big swing. Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, introduced the Appalachian Restoration Act, which is designed to prevent mountaintop removal for mining coal. The bill would prohibit pollution of streams with debris from mountaintop removal. Introduction of the bill has caused Alexander to incur the wrath of West Virginia coal miners who have called for a boycott of the state of Tennessee - in this area, Dollywood, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge... Tennesseans will need coal and tourists well into the future, but we are far from having to make a hard choice between the two - and we should never put ourselves in a position of having to give up our mountains," editorial, Knoxville News.

Aug 2: This little (coal-fired) light of mine: Will President heed 45 million prayers?

WASHINGTON, DC -- "As the brilliant lights of the White House shine across Pennsylvania Avenue Monday evening, generated by a coal-fired plant that uses coal stripmined from devastating mountaintop removal operations in Appalachia, religious leaders and organizations representing over 45 million Americans from across the country will hold a special candlelight prayer vigil at 7pm in Lafayette Park. 'The purpose of the rally is to remember the nearly 500 mountains already destroyed by mountaintop removal mining,' according to Jordan Blevins, Assistant Director of the National Council of Church's Eco-Justice Office, and the sponsor of the event, 'and to have people of faith call upon the federal government to end this destructive practice,'" Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post.

July 31: Music benefit aims to save mountaintops

The Tillers
Bluegrass-folk trio, The Tillers.

CINCINNATI -- "Six local bands and songwriters will join forces Sunday for the Music for the Mountains Benefit to help stop mountaintop removal coal mining. The show features brother-sister act the Majo, singer-songwriters Peter Adams and Daniel Martin Moore, Americana "orchestra" Magnolia Mountain, bluegrass-folk trio the Tillers and killbilly rockers Cletus Romp. The event also features an old-time cakewalk combined with a modern twist on musical chairs. Admission is $10 and supports Ohio Citizen Action's campaign to ban mountaintop removal, in which explosives are used to blow the top 500 to 700 feet of mountains in Central Appalachia to access coal inside. The show runs from 5-11 p.m. at Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside. Information and music samples, 513-221-2100," Cincinnati Enquirer.

July 30: One man’s fight against Mountaintop Removal Mining

KAYFORD MOUNTAIN, WV -- "The decline in union coal-mining jobs in Appalachia has coincided with a big increase in mountaintop removal mining. But only the latter trend has stirred much passion beyond the region, though both have devastated the region’s communities. In June, several well-known outsiders, including top climate scientist James Hanson, were arrested protesting the practice, which changes the very topography of the land as mountains are literally blasted apart and tons of debris suffocate mountain streams and fill the air with toxic dust," Melinda Tuhus, In These Times.

July 29: Worker killed at Samples mountaintop removal mine

The Samples mountaintop removal mine on Cabin Creek. (Lyntha Scott Eiler/LOC American Memory collection)

CHARLESTON, WV -- "A contract employee at a mountaintop-removal mine near Cabin Creek was killed Tuesday when his truck overturned into a pond, state and federal officials said. The name of the worker was not immediately released, and mine safety regulators were just getting started on their investigation into the incident. The accident occurred at the Samples Mine, operated by the Catenary Coal Co. subsidiary of Patriot Coal Corp... The worker is the ninth coal miner in the U.S. and the second in West Virginia to die on the job in 2009, according to MSHA's official count," Ken Ward Jr., West Virginia Gazette.

July 29: Kids' drawings against mountaintop removal

July 27: Ohio group fights W.Va. mining method

CABIN CREEK, WV -- "Larry Gibson steadies himself as he climbs up a mountainous ridge. The 63-year-old takes a moment and peers out over the West Virginia landscape, where heavy machinery digs out coal in the Appalachian Mountains. Behind his glasses, Gibson's eyes emanate a sadness as he talks about mountaintop-removal coal mining and its effect on his home. 'I'm trying to stop the destruction of my planet as I know it. I'm hoping to stop the use of coal period," said the former auto-worker-turned coal-mining activist. 'In all my life, the 230 years my family owned this (land), coal has been nothing but a devastation to the people.' On his 50-acre piece of land in the shadow of Kayford Mountain, Gibson talks to a group of people from Ohio Citizen Action, a nonpartisan grassroots consumer advocacy organization," Jacob Lammers, Willoughby News-Herald.

CHARLESTON, WV -- Mine operators not restoring mountains, OSM report finds, Ken Ward, Jr., Charleston Gazette.

July 24: Dear Sherrod Brown: Mountaintop removal is an ecological sin

Larry Gibson
Larry Gibson of Kayford Mountain, West Virginia.

CINCINNATI -- " wife informed me on what an ecological sin mountaintop removal mining is. Both presidential candidates agreed that it is such. This is not a partisan issue. The damage that it does is known. The people who it affects are among the poorest and therefore the least represented people in the country. Poverty does not equate to irrelevancy! I ask that you cosponsor S 696," Paris Traganos letter to Sen. Sherrod Brown.

July 23: Mountaintop removal: Why are both Ohio’s U.S. Senators being evasive?

Voinovich & Brown
Ohio Senators George Voinovich, left, and Sherrod Brown, right, last December. Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow stands between them.
COLUMBUS -- "In recent weeks, Ohioans have sent 5,360 handwritten letters and other messages to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, and another 1,661 messages to U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, urging them to co-sponsor S. 696, a bill to ban mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. Their replies (George Voinovich, Sherrod Brown) are oddly evasive.  It is more important to find a way forward than it is to understand why Ohio’s Senators have been evasive so far. Here are two steps we suggest to them:

1. Talk to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). He can tell you why he co-sponsored the bill to ban mountaintop removal coal mining, and why this issue is separate and distinct from other energy, climate and coal issues. He’ll tell you that you can favor a ban even if you are a strong supporter of coal, as he is. He’ll tell you that you can favor a ban even if you are opposed to the Waxman climate change bill, as he is.

2. Go see the consequences of mountaintop removal for yourself. Don’t send an aide, go yourself. Whether you see it from the top of Kayford Mountain or from an overflight, once you have that experience, you won’t hesitate to co-sponsor a ban on this atrocity.

Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action

July 22: Conversation on coal, mining practices, starting in coal states

MARIETTA -- "Because of urgent calls for action in the matter of alternative energy and greenhouse gas emission reductions, many feel a dialogue must be started on decisive energy discussions, and already some examples of a shift toward a dialogue are beginning to appear. 'You know it is happening, and it’s very interesting how it’s happening,' said Paul Ryder of Ohio Citizen Action. Ryder focuses on the coal industry’s practice of mountaintop removal (MTR). The leading proponent for MTR has been Senator Robert C. Byrd, said Ryder, but lately, developments show promise in the area of openness to other views on the subject... 'I’m not predicting what [Byrd’s findings] are going to be, but the situation is quite unusual,' said Ryder. 'That’s showing a degree of openness to the issue that hasn’t been shown before,'" James Maddox, Marietta Register.

July 21: "No amount of hearing about the issue could prepare me for witnessing it firsthand"

KAYFORD MOUNTAIN, WV -- "I have been working on stopping mountaintop removal since I started working with Ohio Citizen Action in June. However, I have been aware of the issue and its urgency since the summer of 2008. Before the trip I was certain I knew what this was all about.  No amount of reading or hearing about the issue could have prepared me for the scene that I witnessed on Kayford Mountain last Saturday.  The devastation that I witnessed was completely mind blowing. As good a grasp I thought I had on the issue, I was completely and utterly flabbergasted by the scene which had been laid out before me.  The mere three inches of topsoil on the mountains take 1,000 years per inch to form. These three inches purvey sustainability to all who live there.  In addition to making the mountain inhospitable to life, about half of the coal that could be extracted from the mountain is blown into the valley below," Cyrus Sethna, field canvasser, Ohio Citizen Action.

July 20: Mountaintop mining legacy: Destroying Appalachian streams

Anita Miller stares out at ongoing work at the Hobet 21 mountaintop removal site in Berry Branch, W.Va., not far from her family's home. (John McQuaid/Yale Environment 360)

NEW HAVEN, CT -- "When mountains are demolished with explosives to harvest their coal seams, the millions of tons of crushed shale, sandstone, and coal detritus have to go somewhere, and the most convenient spots are nearby valleys. Mining operations clear-cut the hillsides and literally 'fill' mountain hollows to the brim — and sometimes higher — with rocky debris... Of all the environmental problems caused by mountaintop projects — decapitated peaks, deforestation, the significant carbon footprint — scientists have found that valley fills do the most damage because they destroy headwater streams and surrounding forests, which are crucial to the workings of mountain ecosystems,”  John McQuaid, Yale Environment 360.

July 20: Jimmy Carter's next urgent mission: Polarized Appalachian coalfields

NEW YORK, NY -- "Amid a volatile energy market and a lack of green job investments in the future, the divided Appalachian coalfields have reached a state of emergency this summer. And yet, the Obama administration remains entrenched in a regulatory state of denial. Never has there been such a moral imperative for the personal intervention of the 2002 Nobel Laureate for Peace, Jimmy Carter. Never has Carter's hands-on determination for economic revival and reconciliation between divided communities been more needed in the most polarized part of our country -- the devastated coalfields of Appalachia,”  Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post.

July 16: 10,047 Ohioans and Kentuckians write their Congressmember: Ban mountaintop removal coal mining

Cleveland staff July 16, 2009
Here are some of the people who helped make it happen. Front row, seated: Anita Hooley, Sara Woodson, Kate Laraway. Second row standing: Lauren Schafer, Ben Hendrick, Chelsea Gustat, Mel Greene, Abby Dooley, Katherine Lott, Megan Kilkenny, Jared Miller. Back row standing: Devin Burke, Chelsea Mullarkey, Cliff Burke, Josh Palmer, Jesse McDonald, Jeff Boudon, Brian Young, Josh Nehrer.

COLUMBUS -- "10,047 Citizen Action members and friends in Ohio and Kentucky have written letters, messages, and children’s illustrations to their representatives calling for a ban on mountaintop removal coal mining.  Residents are asking their representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 1310, the Clean Water Protection Act in the House and S. 696, the Appalachian Restoration Act in the Senate.  Representatives who are already co-sponsors are being urged to enlist House colleagues who have not yet co-sponsored to do so, press House leaders for prompt action in committee and on the floor,  speak out on the House floor, to reporters, and in their district, and tour ravaged areas of the Appalachians with House colleagues.  The most egregious form of surface mining, mountaintop removal replaces workers with dynamite and machinery.  The process contaminates drinking water sources and the air,”  Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

CINCINNATI -- Music for the Mountains Benefit in Northside, The Northsider, page 7.

July 16: "I was so moved by the young lady that visited me that I wrote a letter"

Ken Perry
Ken Perry, Assistant Economic Development Director, Village of Brooklyn Heights.
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS-- "After being visited by one of your volunteers last evening, I was totally impressed by the 'grassroots' approach that your organization practices in order to get to the electorate and involve them in the ever so important environmental issues. Needless to say, unless we the electorate really get involved nothing substantial will ever change the 'status quo' which, as you fully realize, is not always in the best interests of either the environment or our collective health. I applaud your organization's efforts to get as many voters and citizens who, unfortunately, may not participate in the greatest Democracy on the Planet, by exercising their right to vote and thus dictate not only the course of the Country's Policies but their own well being as well. To that end, I was so moved by the young lady that visited me that I wrote a letter to Congressman Dennis Kucinich which, I will share with you, basically asking him to mobilize all of his colleagues in Congress, so that this environmental abomination of mountaintop mining can be ended. Having served my community as a Councilman-at-Large for almost 20 years, I fully realize the importance of having the involvement and participation of our constituents and voters. For they are the ones who shape the course of action that our Government takes, and it is incumbent upon us to actively get involved and not practice an apathic approach which, all to often, has been the case. Nothing will ever change unless we who, have the ultimate power by virtue of our votes, let Congress know that they are only there to represent us and our interests and agenda's, and not theirs or any of the many 'parasites' that cling to them with their 'special interests.' Democracy is not for sale and those who would sell it should immediately be removed by a vigilant electorate. We must always be 'Horatius at the Bridge' and protect that which we hold near and dear. Thank you once again for your extremely important commitment to these 'core values' and 'let's reach out and get them where they live' modus operandi.  The only way to affect change is to get involved and stay the course, until the desired objectives are reached. Remember that old mantra on competing in any arena, that I'm attempting to para-phase, 'the size of the fight is not determined by the size of the dog, but rather, the size of the fight in the DOG!' Persistence, Persistence, Persistence!," letter from Ken "The Bulldog" Perry, Assistant Economic Development Director, Village of Brooklyn Heights, to Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

July 15:



July 14: Battle raging in US mining country

LONDON, United Kingdom -- "For years, a battle has been raging in the Appalachian Mountains over a coal-mining practice known as 'mountaintop removal mining.' In the last three decades this kind of mining has flattened some 2,500 square miles, and buried more than 1,200 miles of mountain streams. With a new administration in Washington, the battle over mountaintop removal mining is heating up, most notably in southern West Virginia - and grassroots activists are at the forefront,” Jean Snedegar, BBC.

July 13: New study lifts the curtain on clean coal

MORGANTOWN, WV -- "A new study from West Virginia University exposes one more dirty little secret about America’s favorite fossil fuel, coal. Though coal mining is touted as an economic boon to local communities, the study reviews mortality statistics to conclude that coal mining communities in Appalachia are among the weakest economies in their home states, and in the country. The study, 'Mortality in Appalachian Coal Mining Regions,' appears in the July-August issue of Public Health Reports, the official journal of the U.S. Public Health Services,” Tina Casey, Clean Technica. Published July 12.

July 13: 'Coal Country' debuts to large, but calm, crowd

CHARLESTON -- "There were two sides to most everything at the world premiere of 'Coal Country' at the West Virginia Cultural Center on Saturday night. Eddie Morris, of Alum Creek, knew both well. For the past five years, he's worked as a coal miner and he's the younger brother of 'Coal Country' producer, Mari-Lynn Evans. She is also the producer of the public television series 'The Appalachians.' A standing-room-only crowd attended the premiere without incident. People who represent sides of the issue of mountaintop-removal mining were well represented, though divided,” Jon Offredo, West Virginia Gazette. Published July 11.

CHARLESTON -- Coal Country film packs the state Culture Center, West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Published July 11.

July 13: Vice President Biden on mountaintop removal ban, “We’re working on it.”

Nathan Rutz with Vice President Joe Biden

CINCINNATI -- "Vice President Joe Biden made an appearance in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Northside yesterday, to tout the accomplishments and ambitions of the America Reinvestment and Recovery Act. In front of a crowd of about three hundred, he spoke of plans to invest in a variety of projects to not only create new jobs, but also protect the environment. Afterward, while shaking hands, Ohio Citizen Action canvasser Nathan Rutz asked the Vice President, ‘when are we going to ban mountaintop removal?’ Mr. Biden answered that the administration was ‘working on it,’” Melissa English, Southern Ohio Campaign Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

July 10: 'Coal Country' premiere finds new home at Cultural Center

CHARLESON, WV -- "The premiere of the documentary 'Coal Country' has found a new home at a free 8 p.m. screening on Saturday at the Cultural Center theater in the state Capitol Complex. A plan to show the movie in South Charleston was scratched after the South Charleston Museum bowed out because of what it called 'a potential security concern.' Producer Mari-Lynn Evans was in a mad scramble to find a new venue for the 90-minute film after she received an e-mail from Rhuel Craddock, chairman of the South Charleston Museum Board of Directors, which said the museum board voted to cancel the presentation," Douglas Imbrogno, Charleston Gazette. Published July 9.

July 9: Cleveland Congresswoman Marcia Fudge co-sponsors bill to ban mountaintop removal coal mining

Congresswoman Marcia FudgeCLEVELAND -- "Today, Cleveland Congresswoman Marcia Fudge became the 155th co-sponsor of H.R. 1310, the Clean Water Protection Act, a ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. Ohio Citizen Action members and friends in Ohio Congressional District 11 have sent 373 hand-written letters and other messages to Fudge urging her to co-sponsor this bill. Ohio now has five congressional co-sponsors for the bill: Reps. Fudge, Betty Sutton, Dennis Kucinich, Mary Jo Kilroy, and Tim Ryan. Mountaintop removal coal mining is a radical form of surface mining in Central Appalachia which removes 800 feet off the summit of a mountain. This form of mining is highly mechanized, using machinery rather than workers, and causes irreparable damage to drinking water and surrounding communities," Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

  • ABC News' Bob Woodruff reports from the West Virginia coalfields on the Planet Green TV network: Saturday, July 11, 6 PM and 6:30 PM; Sunday, July 12, 10 AM and 10:30 AM. Channel finder
July 8: July 4th music festival disrupted by angry mountaintop removal supporters

Larry Gibson speaking at the Mountain Keepers Music Festival before the disruption.

CHARLESTON, WV -- "The Mountain Keepers Music Festival on Kayford Mountain ran from July 3rd to July 5 but the family gathering was disrupted on the evening of July Fourth by a crowd of drunk and angry mountaintop removal supporters. This crowd of angry people in miner’s stripes put their threats into action on the evening of July Fourth by threatening seniors, toddlers, and other individuals who were peacefully enjoying the Festival... 'Out of the twenty people who disrupted our event, only two were actually miners. Other than that they were just people who wanted to interrupt a peaceful gathering to try and cause violence. I’m glad they didn’t succeed,' says Larry Gibson of Kayford Mountain. 'The only thing they did was to make the miners of West Virginia look bad, I’m confident that real miners would not have come up with such an irresponsible action,'" press release, Student Environmental Action Coalition.

July 7: Kids' drawings against mountaintop removal

July 8: 6,779 Ohioans and Kentuckians call for Congress to ban mountaintop removal mining

COLUMBUS -- "Since June 17, 6,779 Ohio Citizen Action members and friends have written their congressional representatives calling for them to co-sponsor a ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. Letters and children’s illustrations are asking Ohio Representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 1310, the Clean Water Protection Act, in the House. Senators of both Ohio and Kentucky are being asked to co-sponsor S. 696, the Appalachian Restoration Act, in the Senate. Mountaintop removal coal mining is a radical form of surface mining which contaminates drinking water and irreparably damages the surrounding communities and environment of Central Appalachia,” Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

July 3: A president breaks hearts in Appalachia

mountaintop removal coal mining

WASHINGTON, D. C. -- "If ever an issue deserved President Obama's promise of change, this is it. Mining syndicates are detonating 2,500 tons of explosives each day -- the equivalent of a Hiroshima bomb weekly -- to blow up Appalachia's mountains and extract sub-surface coal seams. They have demolished 500 mountains -- encompassing about a million acres -- buried hundreds of valley streams under tons of rubble, poisoned and uprooted countless communities, and caused widespread contamination to the region's air and water. On this continent, only Appalachia's rich woodlands survived the Pleistocene ice ages that turned the rest of North America into a treeless tundra. King Coal is now accomplishing what the glaciers could not -- obliterating the hemisphere's oldest, most biologically dense and diverse forests," Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Washington Post.

July 3: Coal Country premiere: Big Coal lobby does not want you to see this powerful new film

CHARLESTON, WV-- "Why is Big Coal so afeared of this documentary film by native Appalachian daughters Mari-Lynn Evans and Phylis Geller, producer and director of three-part award-winning landmark PBS series, 'The Appalachians'? If anything, Coal Country goes out of its way to include the views and voices of the Big Coal lobby and its executives, engineers and miners. This, in fact, might be why Coal Country is so compelling; far from any hackneyed agenda, Coal Country simply allows the coal industry and those affected by its mountaintop removal operations and coal-fired plants to tell their personal stories. The end result is devastating. In a methodical and deliberate fashion, Coal Country brilliantly takes viewers on a rare journey through our nation's coal-fired electricity, from the extraction, processing, transport, and burning of coal," Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post.

July 2: Why I Was Arrested in Coal River, West Virginia

Darryl Hannah
The actress Darryl Hannah was arrested on June 23 for blocking State Route 3 near a Massey Energy coal processing plant in Raleigh County, West Virginia.

COAL RIVER VALLEY, WV-- "Why would I fly across the country on my own dime knowing I would most likely end up in jail in one of the poorest parts of America? Well, have you ever heard of MTR?.... Mountain Top Removal leaves behind a virtual hideous moonscape of devastated earth, billions of gallons of poisonous toxic sludge, and boarded up towns with dramatically high rates of cancer," Daryl Hannah, Huffington Post.

On June 23, hundreds of people gathered in West Virginia to protest Massey Energy's mountaintop removal mining site and coal slurry pond located several hundred yards from Marsh Fork Elementary School. According to Massey's own evacuation plans, if the slurry pond were to break, the school children and the surrounding community would have three minutes to evacuate. Along with Daryl Hannah, NASA scientist James Hansen and 94-year-old former U.S. Representative Ken Hechler were among those arrested.

July 2: U.N. to Study Potential Threats to Canada-U.S. World Heritage Site
Conservation photographers set for expedition to British Columbia's Flathead Valley near Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

Elk Valley, British Columbia
A view of mountaintop removal coal mining in Elk Valley in southeastern British Columbia, northwest of Flathead Valley. Environmentalists are concerned a similar project in the Flathead will contaminate the headwaters of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Copyright Garth Lenz, iLCP Flathead RAVE)

FLATHEAD VALLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA-- "Decades-long concerns over energy and mining development proposals near a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Canada-U.S. border have prompted the agency to launch a fact-finding mission to investigate potential threats to the region... The mountaintop removal coal mining being proposed 'would remove the large mountaintop and dump what’s not coal into the valley,' said Chloe O’Loughlin, executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s B.C. chapter.  The open pit mine would send great amounts of heavy metals and runoff into the Flathead River and downstream into the neighbouring peace park... The world’s first 'international peace park,' Waterton-Glacier is a protected area formed in 1932 from a merger of Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta and Glacier National Park in Montana. It serves as a symbol of peace and friendship between the two countries,” Cindy Chan, Epoch Times.

Last summer, candidate Barack Obama took a stand opposing the Cline mountaintop removal mine, 25 miles north of the Canadian border. Since taking office as president, Obama has approved many mountaintop removal mine permits in Central Appalachia, 400 miles south of the Canadian border.

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