Dec 29: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility reviews President Obama's record

WASHINGTON, DC -- "A visitor to the White House website for information about eco-policies will not find an 'agenda' for the environment. Instead, the category is 'Energy & Environment' and that ordering appears intentional. Other than curbing greenhouse gases, there is no mention of environmental priorities such as safeguarding clean water, reducing pollution threats to public health, conserving wildlife and protecting vital habitat, averting collapse of marine fisheries, or ending abuse of public lands through practices ranging from mountaintop removal to overgrazing," Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.


Dec 22: Byrd meets with EPA to discuss mining

CHARLESTON, WV -- "U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd urged the federal government's lead environmental regulator on Monday to work with the mining industry and others to clarify how coal mines get permits. The West Virginia Democrat asked that the EPA work 'in conjunction with other regulatory agencies, the coal industry and unions to develop a clear set of parameters for issuing mining permits,' Byrd's office said. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said her agency would provide clarity in the near future," Associated Press.

Dec 21: Big coal worried about ‘Appalachian Restoration Act’

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Coal industry lobbyists must be pretty worried about the possibilities for passage by Congress of the Appalachian Restoration Act. The National Mining Association yesterday sent out an alert asking its members and supporters to contact lawmakers and voice opposition to the bill... Carol Raulston, spokeswoman for NMA, told me yesterday that her group had heard reports that the bill might come up for a vote last week, but that the vote was postponed. Oliver Bernstein of the Sierra Club told me his group expects action on the measure sometime in early 2010... Supporters say the legislation would 'sharply reduce' mountaintop removal mining,'" Ken Ward Jr., Coal Tattoo, Charleston Gazette. PRESTONBURG, KY -- Religion shaping mountain-top removal debate in Appalachia coal country, Peter Smith, Louisville Courier-Journal.

MORGANTOWN, WV -- Fear of violence grows in mountaintop mining fight, Vicki Smith, USA Today.


Dec 18: Byrd's coal comments rock West Virginia


How do West Virginia politicians feel about the coal companies? To demonstrate his loyalty, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) jumped out of an airplane with the U.S. Army Parachute Team, the 'Golden Knights,' into the Paul Cline Memorial Sports Complex in Beckley, WV, in conjunction with the 2009 Friends of Coal Auto Fair (July 18, 2009).

WASHINGTON, DC -- "An extraordinary recent statement by Sen. Robert Byrd has stunned his coal-dependent home state and left West Virginia politicians and business leaders scrambling to understand the timing and motivation behind his unexpected discourse on the future of the coal industry... And it wasn’t just the astonishing nature of the remarks that made jaws drop. It was the fact that it was Byrd — a West Virginia political titan, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history, the son of a coal miner and a longtime defender of coal interests — who made them. 'To me, it was quite amazing. It was the first time that he had been at all critical of the coal industry,' said Ken Hechler, a veteran West Virginia Democratic officeholder who served as congressman from 1959 to 1977. 'It was truly unexpected,'" Alex Isenstadt, Politico.

BECKLEY, WV -- Coal industry respectfully disagrees with Sen. Byrd’s comments, Bill Raney, Register-Herald.


Dec 15: Kids' drawings against mountaintop removal

TNT

Mancin and Byrd
West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III and Senator Robert Byrd.
Dec 14: Manchin seeks clarity from Byrd remarks

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Gov. Joe Manchin has been doing a bit of head scratching ever since U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd delivered a statement earlier this month about the future of coal in West Virginia. . . ."I want to know if he's against mountaintop removal completely or if he just wants to modify it," he said. . . .The governor has been in contact with Byrd's congressional staff about the confusion and said he was assured representatives would respond with a clarification within the next week or so," Sara Gavin, Charleston Daily Mail.

LONDON, England -- Senator Byrd joins reality-based community, Michael Tomasky, Guardian UK.


Dec 11: Ohio State University student learns about mountaintop removal in the coal fields

Katie Colegrove
Katie Colegrave at a rally against mountaintop removal mining at West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection’s headquarters in Charleston.

CHARLESTON, WV -- "I genuinely hope to see mountaintop removal banned immediately. I did not have a solidified opinion on mountaintop removal mining prior to this protest; because I thought mountaintop removal mining bans would in turn make coal miners lose their jobs.  I am from Appalachia, and know firsthand about poor areas that need employment, I certainly did not want to help lose jobs. However, from many speakers and further confirmation by research, I realized a mountaintop removal mining ban would bring back more deep mining jobs; a win-win situation pertaining to Coal River Mountain. Advocates would like to ban mountaintop removal mining on Coal River Mountain, use deep mining on the mountain (to retain jobs), and also create a wind farm at the top of Coal River Mountain.  After hearing the speakers at this protest, I find this solution plausible, and I truly hope the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and federal government consider this solution,” Katie Colegrove, Intern, Ohio Citizen Action

Dec 10: U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Frank Lautenberg co-sponsor the proposed ban on mountaintop removal coal mining



WASHINGTON, DC -- "On Tuesday, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) became co-sponsors of S. 696, the bill to ban mountaintop removal coal mining. Along with chief sponsor, Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), this makes ten senators sponsoring or co-sponsoring the bill, S. 696. In a statement last week, West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, the long-time champion of mountaintop removal coal mining, said, 'It is also a reality that the practice of mountaintop removal mining has a diminishing constituency in Washington. It is not a widespread method of mining, with its use confined to only three states. Most members of Congress, like most Americans, oppose the practice, and we may not yet fully understand the effects of mountaintop removal mining on the health of our citizens.' Neither of Ohio's Senators, George Voinovich and Sherrod Brown, have co-sponsored the bill yet," Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.


Dec 9: Last week, U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd put mountaintop removal coal mining on the chopping block. Here is a brief round-up of reactions.

Senator Byrd
U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, shown here at a 2008 press conference with then-presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama and West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin.

COLUMBUS -- "Last Thursday, WV Senator Robert Byrd issued a stunning statement reversing himself on the issue of mountaintop removal coal mining. For decades, Byrd has been the nation's most powerful and steadfast proponent of the practice. His new statement put mountaintop removal on the political chopping block. Here is a roundup of reactions:
  • Vivian Stockman, a leader of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, called the statement 'amazing.' 'With tact and grace and without naming names he masterfully spanks the governor, other West Virginia politicians and coal industry lobbyists for spreading misinformation and fear among coal miners and for stoking hatred against environmentalists. It seems the state's eldest politician is our only leader deeply thinking about the future. . . '
  • U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller 'expressed his support for the 'bold statement' U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd D-W.Va., made in an opinion piece titled 'Coal Must Embrace the Future.' Byrd points out in his writing that 'most Americans' oppose mountaintop mining, as do most people in Congress. Rockefeller said statements by coal industry leaders in southern West Virginia are 'scaring the heck out of people,' and added: 'We’ve got to get on a positive track in West Virginia.'
  • 'West Virginia Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts said he was not expecting Byrd's comments and that they were a 'little bit uncharacteristic. . . It's surprising to see him take a tack that seems to go in a direction that is a little bit groundbreaking for Senator Byrd.' Roberts said there is concern among people he's talked to that Byrd's staff is 'misinformed about numerous facts.'
  • 'The National Mining Association said Friday it agrees with most of the West Virginia Democrat's comments, including statements that coal remains an essential energy source.'
  • Massey Energy CEO 'Don Blankenship said the senator's speech . . . is na´ve.'
  • Bill Raney, head of the West Virginia Coal Association, 'found Byrd’s 'scapegoating' remark difficult to understand, saying neither he nor anyone else within the industry had engaged in such tactics. . . 'There’s not been any conscious effort to do whatever that word ‘scapegoating’ means, and I’m not sure exactly what that is.'

Dec 9: WV Governor Joe Manchin's first comments on Sen. Byrd statement on mountaintop removal coal mining

CHARLESTON, WV -- "I did talk to Sen. Byrd's office yesterday, his Chief of Staff, and we had a talk and I said there's a lot of people concerned and confused of which direction . . They assured me that they will clarify. . . And that he will clarify that he thinks that the defense of mountaintop, which they have no support in Washington,  is undefensible, I believe, and in order to protect the ongoing traditional mining  that we do, maybe he believes there has to be some kinds of adjustments or compromise. I don't know and I'm not going to speak for the Senator. He has really, as an elected officials, the right to say whatever he feels. . . . First thing, I'm saying is this: Senator Byrd really truly deserves the opportunity if there is any misunderstanding, and there is misunderstanding, does he support mountaintop mining or does he wish mountaintop abolished?" West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin.
  • listen to audio of West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin


  • Dec 8: Kennedy calls mountaintop removal mining in West Virginia a crime against people, nature

    CHARLESTON, WV -- "Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said Monday that mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia is a crime, and that if the American people could see it, there would be a revolution. 'We are cutting down the Appalachian Mountains, these historic landscapes where Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett roamed that are so much a part of American culture,' the environmental attorney said at a rally to stop blasting on southern West Virginia's Coal River Mountain. 'It's God who made these mountains, and it's (Massey Energy chief) Don Blankenship who is cutting them down,' Kennedy said," Vicki Smith, Associated Press.

    Dec 7: Kennedy Jr. due to speak at mining rally Monday



    CHARLESTON, WV -- "Robert Kennedy Jr. is expected to add his voice to the ranks of mountaintop mining opponents. The son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy is scheduled to speak at a rally against the practice at the state Department of Environmental Protection headquarters Monday. Organizers say Kennedy also is expected to call for a halt to blasting at a Massey Energy surface mine on Coal River Mountain in Raleigh County. Organizers say Kennedy will be joined by members of Coal River Mountain Watch and Climate Ground Zero, among others," Associated Press.

    Dec 4: Coal industry responds to Byrd diplomatically

    CHARLESTON, WV -- "The coal industry is responding with diplomacy to Sen. Robert C. Byrd's attack on mountaintop removal mining. The National Mining Association says it agrees with most of the West Virginia Democrat's comments, including statements that coal remains an essential energy source," Associated Press.

    Dec 3: Sen. Byrd: Coal must embrace the future

    CHARLESTON, WV -- "It is also a reality that the practice of mountaintop removal mining has a diminishing constituency in Washington. It is not a widespread method of mining, with its use confined to only three states. Most members of Congress, like most Americans, oppose the practice, and we may not yet fully understand the effects of mountaintop removal mining on the health of our citizens. West Virginians may demonstrate anger toward the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over mountaintop removal mining, but we risk the very probable consequence of shouting ourselves out of any productive dialogue with EPA and our adversaries in the Congress...

    Most people understand that America cannot meet its current energy needs without coal, but there is strong bi-partisan opposition in Congress to the mountaintop removal method of mining it. We have our work cut out for us in finding a prudent and profitable middle ground – but we will not reach it by using fear mongering, grandstanding and outrage as a strategy. As your United States Senator, I must represent the opinions and the best interests of the entire Mountain State, not just those of coal operators and southern coalfield residents who may be strident supporters of mountaintop removal mining...

    The greatest threats to the future of coal do not come from possible constraints on mountaintop removal mining or other environmental regulations, but rather from rigid mindsets, depleting coal reserves, and the declining demand for coal as more power plants begin shifting to biomass and natural gas as a way to reduce emissions," Sen. Robert Byrd, email to West Virginia Blue.

    Dec 2: In the name of Rosa Parks: Arrest of 81-year-old on fast, mourning Mountaintop Removal



    CHARLESTON, WV -- "On the anniversary of Rosa Parks' historic act of civil disobedience, when her refusal to move from her seat on December 1, 1955 sparked the Montgomery bus boycott and triggered the rise of the Civil Rights Movement, 81-year-old veteran and anti-mountaintop removal activist Roland Micklem was arrested by law enforcement authorities during his open-ended fast at the West Virginia state capitol in Charleston. The bizarre charge: Failure to appear at an Oct. 13 summons that never arrived at his place of residency. The Orwellian turns of events in the Appalachian coalfield uprising continue to pile up with increasingly bizarre twists," Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post.



    ". . . the nation that I am most interested in building is our own."
    President Barack Obama, Afghanistan war escalation speech,
    West Point, December 1, 2009.







    Nov 30: Under Obama's schedule, Bush's stream-buffer rule might not be fixed until the next Administration, if then



    WASHINGTON, DC -- "Today, the Obama Administration issued an 'advance notice of proposed rulemaking' for a new stream buffer zone rule. Fixing this rule to ensure that no mining waste can be dumped within 100 feet of a mountain stream is a key to ending mountaintop removal coal mining. The notice contained no schedule for the rulemaking. On October 30, 2009, however, Glenda Owens, Acting Director of the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining, said her office 'is committed to proceeding as expeditiously as possible with the rulemaking process... I am optimistic that a proposed rule can be published in the Federal Register by early 2011... [The Office] expects to proceed to a final rule as expeditiously as possible."

    "Anytime a public official talks about their feelings, commitments or expectations, it is well to pay close attention to their actions, which are likely to be going in the other direction. This is a case in point. The Obama Administration's actions are the opposite of 'expeditious.' An advance notice is usually done when an agency is looking into something it hasn't regulated before. That's not the case here. An advance notice is not required by the Administrative Procedure Act or any other federal regulaory process statute, according to OMB Watch. The Interior Department could and should go directly to a proposed rule and skip the advance notice. Both the New York Times and the Associated Press were led astray by Owens' statement. They reported that she said the rule would be fixed by early 2011, when all she said was that she was optimistic that a proposed rule would be published by early 2011. Once that happens, it will take at least a year to finalize it. Then it will take more time to implement, and that could take us into the next Administration. That is, if they fix the rule at all," Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.


    Nov 27: Kids' drawings against mountaintop removal



    Nov 20: Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords becomes 161st co-sponsor of mountaintop removal ban

     WASHINTGTON, D.C. -- "Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) has become the 161st co-sponsor of the Clean Water Protection Act (HR 1310), which would effectively ban mountaintop removal coal mining.  Rep. Giffords is one of 52 'Blue Dog Democrats.' The caucus explains its name: 'Taken from the South's longtime description of a party loyalist as one who would vote for a yellow dog if it were on the ballot as a Democrat, the 'Blue Dog' moniker was taken by members of the coalition because their moderate-to-conservative-views had been 'choked blue' by their party in the years leading up to the 1994 election.' In 2008, Giffords beat Republican State Senate President Tim Bee for a second House term, even though her district has 13,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats, and its voters favored Sen. John McCain over Sen. Barack Obama in the presidential race. The Cook Report lists her as a 'likely' win in 2010," Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.


    Nov 20: Blankenship, Kennedy Jr. to debate at University of Charleston

    Don Blankenship Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

    Left, Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship; right, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

    CHARLESTON, WV -- "Kennedy, son of the late U.S. senator and attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, is president of Waterkeeper Alliance and chief prosecuting attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper, a group that seeks to protect the Hudson River and its tributaries. In a column in The Washington Post in March, Kennedy referred to mountaintop removal coal mining as 'the greatest environmental tragedy ever to befall our nation,'" Davin White, Charleston Gazette.

    Nov 19: Interior Department stuck in slow motion on addressing mountaintop removal coal mining


    WASHINGTON, DC -- "The U.S. Department of the Interior confirmed that it will slowly propose a new federal regulation to protect streams from mountaintop removal coal mining. The Department intends to delay proposing a new stream buffer zone rule until at least 2011, a move that could mean devastation for more areas of Appalachia. The rule is needed to ensure that mining waste cannot be dumped within 100 feet of a mountain stream, to protect nearby waterways, communities, and wildlife from pollution and destruction."

    "In response to the Department of the Interior announcement, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign Deputy Director Mary Anne Hitt issued the following statement:

    'The Interior Department's decision to delay means mining companies will continue to destroy Appalachia's potential for a clean energy future. While we welcome the increased mining oversight that the Department of Interior is proposing, what Interior should really do is quickly issue a regulation to prohibit mountaintop removal mining that buries streams with mining waste. The slow timetable to protect waterways from mining waste will mean more destruction in Appalachia. There is nothing 'expeditious' or 'immediate' about the Interior Department's decision to delay until 2011 even proposing a new rule to protect streams and communities from mountaintop removal coal mining. Coal companies have already buried close to 2,000 miles of Appalachian streams beneath piles of toxic waste and debris, and only swift, decisive action will protect communities and waterways from mountaintop removal,'" Oliver Bernstein, Sierra Club.


    Nov 18: Coal Country on Planet Green Nov 19 at 10:30pm

    planet green
    SILVER SPRINGS -- "Coal Country reveals the truth about modern coal mining. The story is told by the people directly involved, both working miners and activists who are battling the coal companies in Appalachia. Tensions are high. It's a "new civil war," as families and communities are deeply split over mountaintop removal mining (MTR)...Coal Country premieres on Planet Green on November 14, 2009 at 8pm ET. It will re-air on Planet Green on Sunday, November 15 at 12pm, Thursday, November 19 at 10:30 pm , Friday, November 20 at 2:30 pm, December 20 at 12pm, Thursday, December 24 10:30 pm, Friday, December 25 at 2:30 pm," Team Planet Green.

    Nov 17: Where's the love? Will Lisa Jackson and Nancy Sutley ever visit a mountaintop removal site?


    U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley.

    NEW YORK, NY -- "Question of the week: Given all of their agencies' beautiful rhethoric about 'reaching out to communities whose voices have been ignored and where there are disproportional impacts,' why haven't EPA chief Lisa Jackson and CEQ administrator Nancy Sutley found three hours in the schedules to visit a mountaintop removal site--the most egregious environmental tragedy in their administration? Will they ever visit Coal River Mountain in West Virginia--the mountaintop removal battleground for clean energy and a healthy environment?," Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post.


    Nov 13: National Council of Churches campaigns to save Coal River Mountain

    Nat'l Council of ChurchesNEW YORK, NY -- "God gives us freedom to use the earth’s resources, but we need to use them in a way that honors God’s Creation, not destroys it, and which sustains God’s people. Coal River Mountain may well represent the fork in the road when it comes to fulfilling the Obama administration's vision for America's energy future. The choice is between forging a path toward a clean energy economy or continuing on with 'business as usual' that would reduce another Appalachian peak into a pile of rubble," letter to Lisa Jackson, Administrator, U.S. EPA.

    The National Council of Churches's member faith groups — from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches — include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.


    Nov 12: Rev. Frank Edmands letter to U.S. EPA: Save Coal River Mountain

    Rev. Frank Edmands
    Rev. Frank Edmands
    LONDON -- "I am greatly troubled to hear that mountaintop removal mining has begun on the Coal River Mountain, West Virginia. This is especially troublesome to know when this project has been opposed by many in the surrounding communities, especially by citizens who favor building a wind farm on the mountain as a way to protect the mountain for current and future generations which will: 1. Provide energy for more than 75,000 homes, and 2. Create good 'green' permanent jobs for residents who live in the surrounding valleys. The Appalachian Mountains are a part of the United States’ natural heritage which is under your protection from pollution and miss-use....Mountaintop removal practices are a slap in the face to the vision of our country's clean energy future that President Obama has supported so often. The continued production of dirty energy flies against the mission and legacy of the Department of the Environmental Protection Agency....Genesis Chapter 2 teaches that we [are] called by God to till and tend God's garden and cultivate and protect the natural resources of this world for future generations. Therefore, I say that the EPA mission falls under this moral imperative. Unfortunately, mountaintop removal mining permanently scars the face of God's creation. Please do all that you can at the EPA to ensure cleaner and less destructive energy resources for the future for our nation," The Reverend Frank A Edmands II, Trinity Episcopal Church, letter to the U.S. EPA.

    Nov 11: Coalfield leaders speak out on mountaintop removal coal mining



    American Municipal Power (AMP) has told the State of Ohio it plans to use a mix of coal from Ohio and Central Appalachia, where mountaintop removal takes place, at its proposed coal plant in Meigs County.

    Nov 11: Blowing their tops
    Local activists fight mountaintop removal mining, raise awareness


    McKinley Sumner looks over a mountaintop removal site near his land.

    VICCO, KY -- "Today, [McKinley] Sumner is guiding a group from the Cincinnati chapter of Ohio Citizen Action (OCA), which launched a campaign in September 2008 to fight this type of mining. OCA is mobilizing support in Cincinnati for the Clean Water Protection Act, a bill that would effectively prohibit mountaintop removal mining of coal. The group’s 80,000 members helped push Congressman Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) of Ohio’s 1st District to become the 158th co-sponsor of the bill in October... OCA staff say they are fighting mountaintop removal mining because of the devastation it wreaks on the environment, the toxic waste to which it exposes nearby residents and the bully tactics coal companies use to circumvent local opposition and the law," Jacob Baynham, Cincinnati CityBeat.


    Nov 11: Church calls on Obama to close mining project

    LONDON, UK -- "The Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN) has issued an appeal for church members to call on President Barack Obama to end the Coal River Mountain mining project. 'Mountain top removal mining and valley fill practices cause significant social and environmental impacts, often devastating ecosystems and destroying human communities through water pollution and flooding,' a Nov. 10 EPPN alert said. 'We have confirmed that blasting has begun on Coal River Mountain, West Virginia, the highest peak ever slated for mountaintop removal mining, and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection confirmed that coal was being moved off the mountain,'" Trevor Barron, Religious Intelligence.

    Nov 6: As Massey Energy Blasts West Virginia’s Coal River Mountain, a Debate on Mountaintop Removal Mining


    Debate begins at 32:00.


    Nov 5: 100,366 letters: Ban mountaintop removal coal mining

    COLUMBUS — “In sixteen months, Ohio Citizen Action members and friends have sent 100,366 handwritten letters, messages, and children’s illustrations to presidential and congressional candidates, members of Congress and Obama Administration officials calling for a ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. President Barack Obama could use his executive authority to ban it, or Congress could pass a legislative ban. There are currently two bills before Congress to this end, the Clean Water Protection Act (H.R. 1310) in the House and the Appalachia Restoration Act (S. 696) in the Senate. Six Ohio representatives are co-sponsors of the Clean Water Protection Act: Betty Sutton, Dennis Kucinich, Marcia Fudge, Tim Ryan, Mary Jo Kilroy, and Steve Driehaus. Neither Ohio Senator has co-sponsored the Appalachia Restoration Act. While he was a member of the U.S. House, Senator Sherrod Brown was a co-sponsor of this legislation. As a Senator, he has not publically addressed the situation, despite the thousands of people who have contacted his office through mail, telephone, and in person,” Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.


    Nov 2: Bush's stream-buffer rule for mining will remain until 2011



    NEW YORK, NY -- "The Interior Department will leave in place George W. Bush-era changes to a rule designed to protect streams from mountaintop-removal coal mining until 2011, according to court documents filed by the Obama administration Friday. A new 'stream-buffer zone' rule could 'optimistically' be finished by early 2011, Glenda Owens, acting director of Interior's Office of Surface Mining, said in papers filed Friday... Environmental groups blasted the 2011 timeline, saying Appalachia will suffer in the meantime. 'The Department of the Interior is spinning its wheels, leaving this Bush-era rule in place while Appalachia's mountains, streams and communities continue to be destroyed,' said Mary Anne Hitt, spokeswoman for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign," Patrick Reis, New York Times.

    WASHINGTON, DC -- Cowed Interior to consider mountaintop removal rule once plundering is vver in 2011l, Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post.


    Oct 30 : Mountaintop removal mining protests going national

    MORGANTOWN, WV -- "Activists with Mountain Justice, Rainforest Action Network and other environmental groups are planning nationwide protests demanding an end to mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. They plan to gather Friday at Environmental Protection Agency offices and other sites from San Francisco to Atlanta and from Texas to Maine. Other targets include a New Jersey office of JPMorgan Chase, a bank the environmentalists say is the largest financier of the efficient but destructive form of strip mining,"Associated Press.


    Oct 29: Kids' drawings against mountaintop removal



    Oct 27: Major daily newspapers across the country and across Appalachia want mountaintop removal stopped

    COLUMBUS -- "Where are the pro-mountaintop removal editorials in major daily newspapers? If this were a controversial issue, we would expect to find editorials on opposite sides expressing opposite opinions. We don't. Some have avoided editorializing at all on the subject, for reasons we can only speculate about. Out-and-out support for mountaintop removal coal mining, however, is missing. Why? Because, in the court of public opinion, this is not a controversial issue. Major daily newspaper editorial boards are about as likely to endorse mountaintop removal as they are to endorse dog-fighting," Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.


    Oct 27: Our view on coal production: Mountaintop mining leaves giant scars in Appalachia
    It’s time to protect forests, streams from environmental degradation


    MCLEAN, VA -- "The industry argues that the nation gets almost 50% of its electricity from coal and needs a steady supply. Mountaintop removal means jobs — about 26,500 people work directly in mining operations in the six affected states, and more than 50,000 other jobs are tied to those — in an impoverished region. Studies suggest, however, that enforcing rules to minimize dumping waste into streams would add at most $1 or $2 per ton to the cost of coal (which recently sold for about $50 to $56 per ton) and cause comparatively little job loss. And while underground mining might be more dangerous, the answer is to make it safer, not to encourage environmental degradation," editorial, USA Today.


    Oct 26: Battle at Coal River Mountain explodes: green jobs vs. big coal showdown


    A mountaintop removal operation designed to destroy the last in tact mountain on the historic Coal River Mountain range.

    ROCK CREEK, WV -- "The Battle at Coal River Mountain has officially begun. At the same time President Barack Obama invoked the 'legacy of daring men and women' in our nation's quest for renewable energy initiatives, and as millions of concerned citizens rallied in support of 350.org climate change events around the world this past weekend, Big Coal bulldozers reportedly clear cut a swath of lush deciduous forests in the carbon sink of Appalachia and fired the opening salvos in the mountaintop removal mining blasting process to destroy the historic range slated for the Coal River Mountain Wind Project -- the most symbolic clean energy project in the nation," Jeff Biggers, The Huffington Post.

    AVON LAKE -- Green activists target Reliant Electric, "While RRI Energy representatives were unable to directly respond to the Avon Lake Ledger by deadline, David S. Freysinger, RRI’s Senior Vice President of Generation Operations, wrote in an e-mail to Cunningham, ' …For 2010, we have no current plans to burn coal from mountaintop removal mines at Avon Lake,'" Lori E. Switaj, Avon Lake Ledger.


    Oct 23: Mountaintop removal's environmental double whammy

    EconomistLONDON, UK -- . . . the underlying question is why America allows this practice at all. . . . When a coal company blows the top off a mountain in West Virginia, it's destroying the environment in order to destroy the environment. [West Virginia Senator Jay] Rockefeller may be constrained by political exigencies to defend companies that do this, but it's pretty shameful stuff," The Economist.


    Oct 20: Ben Webb to speak on mountaintop removal at Oberlin's First Church on Thursday, October 29

    CLEVELAND -- "Please join us to hear Ben Webb speak about mountaintop removal coal mining at Oberlin's First Church (106 N. Main St.) on Thursday, October 29 at 7:00 p.m. Ben Webb lives in Peachtree, West Virginia, 400 yards below a mountaintop removal coal mining site. He and his family deal with daily blasting from the coal company, silica dust, and water contamination. Ben Webb's ancestors settled in this area in the 1820's, seven generations ago. Ben works for Coal River Mountain Watch, a small grassroots environmental organization working to abolish mountaintop removal coal mining and build sustainable communities. He is the Tour Coordinator, Website Designer, and Community Organizer for the Coal River Valley. We'll also have information for you on where Oberlin City Council candidates stand on the issue of American Municipal Power's (AMP) proposed coal plant. This plant would get some of its coal from Central Appalachia, where mountaintop removal takes place. For more information call me at 216.861.5200 x305 or email me at lilg@ohiocitizen.org," Liz Ilg, Cleveland Area Program Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

    MORE ON THE PROPOSED AMP COAL PLANT

    Oct 20: Ben Webb and Elisa Young to introduce Coal Country at Cleveland premiere Wednesday, October 28

    CLEVELAND -- "Join the Northeast Ohio Sierra Club group next week on Wednesday, October 28 at 7:30 p.m. for the Cleveland area premiere of Coal Country. Ben Webb, who lives in the coalfields of West Virginia, 400 yards from a mountaintop mining site, and Elisa Young, whose family has lived in Meigs County for seven generations, will introduce the documentary at the screening. The acclaimed new documentary will be shown at the Rocky River Nature Center (24000 Valley Pkwy, North Olmsted, Ohio 44070)," Liz Ilg, Cleveland Area Program Director, Ohio Citizen Action.


    Oct 20: Manchin to protesters: Balance ‘tough’ in ‘extractive state’



    CHARLESTON, WV -- "West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin came out and met with about two dozen protesters who filled his outer office reception area, demanding that the governor step in to stop Massey Energy mountaintop removal operations near the company’s Brush Fork slurry impoundment in Raleigh County. The governor told the protesters: 'We want to do everything. We’re committed to attracting wind farms and attracting solar farms. We’re looking at all of that. What we’re trying to do is find a balance and that’s tough to do in an extractive state.' When I left the Capitol about an hour ago, many of the protesters were still there. Some of them were holding big banners outside the reception area, in the main hall of the building. Seven others had locked arms, sat down and were refusing to leave the reception area unless Manchin stopped the mining permits," Ken Ward, Jr., Coal Tattoo, Charleston Gazette.


    Oct 19: Mountaintop removal ban reaches a record 160 co-sponsors

    NEW YORK, NY -- "On October 14, Long Island Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (NY- 4) became the 160th co-sponsor for the Clean Water Protection Act, an effective ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. Congresswoman McCarthy is a member of the Financial Services Committee, the Education and Labor Committee, and Chair of the Healthy Families and Communities Committee. Mountaintop removal coal mining is the most egregious form of surface mining. Appalachian Mountains are literally blown up to get at the seams of coal. This process includes the dumping of mining waste, which includes heavy metals and other toxins, into waterways and utilizes dynamite and machinery, not human power,” Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

    Oct 16: Huge mountaintop removal news:
    U.S. EPA moves to veto Spruce Mine permit


    CHARLESTON, WV -- "U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials today announced the gigantic news that they have formally moved to veto the Clean Water Act permit for the largest mountaintop removal mine in West Virginia history. Details of the action are just now coming out, but EPA has been warning since early September that it would do this if the federal Army Corps of Engineers and Arch Coal Inc. officials did not do more to reduce the environmental impacts of the company’s proposed Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, W.Va. In a statement just issued, EPA said: 'EPA is taking this action because it is concerned about the magnitude, scale, and severity of the direct, indirect, and cumulative adverse environmental and water quality impacts associated with this project. The Spruce Mine as currently configured would bury more than seven miles of streams," Ken Ward, Jr., Charleston Gazette.

    ST. LOUIS, MO -- Arch Coal Responds to EPA Notice to Veto the Existing Spruce No. 1 Permit, release, Arch Coal, Inc.

    CAMBRIDGE -- Don't mess with coal!, Dan Davis, The Daily Jeffersonian.


    Oct 14: Tell the U.S. Army Corps no more mountaintop removal



    COLUMBUS -- "The U.S. Army Corps of engineers is proposing to end the 'nationwide permit' process whereby mountaintop removal projects are approved without considering the damage done to the mountain and adjacent valleys, streams and communities. The nationwide permits are supposed to be reserved for activities with only 'minimal' damage, but there is nothing minimal about what mountaintop removal does. The Army Corps of Engineers is holding a series of hearings in Appalachian states for public comments on their proposal to do away with nationwide permits for these projects. The Ohio hearing will take place this Thursday, October 15, at 7:00 pm with registration beginning at 6:00 pm at Pritchard Laughlin Civic Center, 7033 Glenn Highway, Cambridge, Ohio 43725. Everyone attending will have an opportunity to ask questions or make comments to the Army Corps of Engineers.


    If you are unable to attend the hearing, submit a written comment here," Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

    Oct 14: New analysis:
    Economic Impacts of Restricting Mountaintop/Valley Fill Coal Mining in Central Appalachia

    CAMBRIDGE, MA -- "This report focuses on the potential economic impacts of restrictions on mountaintop/valley fill coal mining in Central Appalachia... We find that alternative sources of electricity and alternative sources of coal are economic and available for serving electric load in the East..."

    "The demand for coal for electricity generation is likely to decrease in both the short and long run. In the short term, because gas prices are low, gas-fired generating units are being run more frequently and are displacing coal-fired plants, especially in the southeast. As reported in a Market Commentary in Coal & Energy Price Report: 'It’s clear what people are doing. They are basically turning off coalfired stations and running combined cycle turbine units because gas is so cheap, and they don’t need coal stations to run better than 50-60 percent, so they are turning the whole thing off.' The same June 2009 Market Commentary also quoted an unnamed source as believing that the displacement of coal by gas has been greater than many in the industry believe: 'It’s replacing coal,' the source said. 'These utilities must be doing it every which way but Sunday. No one will confirm it. No one will quantify it,'" Alice Napoleon, David Schlissel, "Economic Impacts of Restricting Mountaintop/Valley Fill Coal Mining in Central Appalachia," Synapse Energy Economics, Inc., August 25, 2009. Study released October 13, 2009.


    Oct 14: Mountaintop mining debated at hearing
    Friends, foes of valley-fill permits heard


    Miner Cameron Martin waited with son Logan and daughter Makenna outside the Eastern Kentucky Expo Center on Tuesday.

    PIKEVILLE, KY -- "Coal miners who were given the day off work, caravans of environmentalists, businessmen and local politicians and pundits arrived Tuesday night for a public hearing on proposed changes to a 1982 federal regulation allowing valleys to be filled with dirt and rock left over from mountaintop mining... 'The people of Kentucky and Appalachian are paying the price in increased flooding and degraded water,' said John Doerrfeld of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, above the boos and heckles of coal advocates at the hearing. Doerrfeld said the regulation changes 'come too late' for 1,400 miles of streams that have been buried or significantly damaged by mining,” Dori Hjalmarson, Lexington Herald-Leader.

    CHARLESTON, WV -- Coal supporters put on shouting lesson at mountaintop removal hearing, Ken Ward Jr. Coal Tattoo, West Virginia Gazette.


    Oct 14: “Coal Country” screening in Cincinnati a success


    Nina Clooney, Bobbie Sterne and Mari-Lynn Evans (photo by Bob White)

    CINCINNATI -- "An audience of 150 people convened Sunday to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Urban Appalachian Council with song and by witnessing what’s happening in America’s coal fields. Susan Pepper presented material from her recent master’s thesis including songs from Appalachia and their historical context and Mari-Lynn Evans presented her film 'Coal Country.' The attentive and appreciative audience was comprised of many Cincinnati luminaries, including civil rights leaders Donald and Marian Spencer, councilmember Roxanne Qualls, Ohio State Representative Denise Driehaus and Cincinnati’s first woman mayor Bobbie Sterne," Melissa English, Southern Ohio Campaign Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

    Oct 13: Tell the Army Corps of Engineers in person: no more mountaintop removal coal mining

    COLUMBUS -- "The Army Corps of Engineers is holding a series of hearings for public comment on nationwide permits to help them decide whether or not the nationwide permitting process needs to be modified or abolished altogether. By ending nationwide permits, citizens will have a stronger say in mountaintop removal permits in their communities. It will also require governmental agencies to follow the law and ensure that the permits they issue really do have minimal impact on waterways and communities. While stopping these permits will not completely stop mountaintop removal mining, it will slow it down, and will show the Army Corps of Engineers that the public wants this practice to stop. The Ohio hearing will be held on Thursday, October 15th at 7 pm, with registration beginning at 6 pm at the Pritchard Laughlin Center, 7033 Glenn Highway, Cambridge, Ohio 43725,” Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

    Oct 13: Coal mining protesters near end of march in West Virginia


    Roland Micklem, left, 81, of Richmond, Va., leads a group senior citizen’s on a 25 mile march to protest mountaintop removal Thursday, Oct. 8, in Charleston, W.Va. (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner)

    MAMMOTH, WV -- "Only a handful of hecklers and angry motorists met a group of gray-haired environmental activists Monday as they finished a five-day, 25-mile march to protest mountaintop removal mining and arrived at a Massey Energy coal complex. At a roadside press conference with a speaker on the hood of a car, they declared a small victory. If nothing else, they said, they spread awareness of a particularly destructive form of strip mining that they believe is destroying lives and communities across Appalachia. 'It showed a lot of people can do something, even senior citizens,' said Climate Ground Zero activist James McGuinness, 53, of Rock Creek. 'A lot of people are over 80 that came out and did this. I think it's incredible they walked the entire way and stood up for themselves and said, 'This has got to end,'" Vicki Smith, Associated Press.

    Oct 12: Cleveland Mountain Justice Project plans picket



    CLEVELAND -- "The Cleveland Mountain Justice Project is organizing a day of action on October 24 next to the Avon Lake power plant RRI Energy (formerly Reliant Energy). This day of action is a part of their citizen campaign to get RRI Energy to pledge to not renew their contracts with suppliers of mountaintop removal coal. According to information that power plants are required to report to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, RRI Energy uses coal obtained from mountaintop removal coal mining to power the Avon Lake plant. For more information contact Randy Cunningham at randino@sbcglobal.net," Liz Ilg, Cleveland Program Director, Ohio Citizen Action.


    Oct 9: Rahall, Jay join call for Massey to fund new school

    Marsh Fork location

    CHARLESTON, WV -- "As a group of citizens ranging in age from 50 to 83 began a march against mountaintop removal Thursday, two more West Virginia political leaders called on Massey Energy to help fund relocation of a Raleigh County elementary school that has become a symbol in the ongoing coalfield controversy. Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Nick J. Rahall, both D-W.Va., called on Massey Energy to help fund the relocation of Marsh Fork Elementary School away from a huge Massey slurry impoundment and coal-processing plant. Rockefeller and Rahall made their comments in support of Sen. Robert C. Byrd's strong criticism of Massey following media reports that the company declined to help fund moving the school, currently located near Sundial," Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette.

    Oct 8: 10 mines on notice for violations

    PITTSBURGH, PA -- "The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration yesterday announced it has placed 10 mine operators -- including five in West Virginia -- on notice for health and safety violations... The mine operators are cited if MSHA inspectors believe the violations could lead to serious injury or illness of a miner. MSHA inspectors will review compliance within 90 days. If violations are not corrected, MSHA has the authority to withdraw miners from the operation. The five West Virginia mines cited were Mountain Reclamation & Construction's Anna Branch Mine in Logan County; Spartan Mining Co.'s Ruby Energy Mine in Mingo County; Pine Ridge Coal Co.'s Big Mountain No. 16 Mine in Boone County; Laurel Coal Corp.'s Winifrede 12 Mine in Boone County; and Mammoth Coal Co.'s Slabcamp Mine in Kanawha County," Dan Majors, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

    Oct 7: Eastern Kentucky Mountain Witness Tour

    MONTGOMERY CREEK, KY -- "McKinley Sumner, a long-time resident of Harlan County and member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC), hosted a Mountain Witness Tour this weekend for Ohio Citizen Action campaign staff and a City Beat journalist. Mr. Sumner has been fighting the IGC coal company since August 2006, when the company began mining on his land without permission. Despite multiple surveys and clearly marked boundaries, Mr. Sumner got no justice from Kentucky’s Department of Natural Resources, which issued a citation to IGC, but declined to fine the company. Mr. Sumner contacted a lawyer and KFTC for help and began to testify about what a bad neighbor the company had been at hearings for pending IGC permits. The company offered to settle, if Mr. Sumner would agree to forego future complaints. When he refused, the company offered more money, if he would promise to never speak out about mountaintop removal again. Again he refused. Even though another coal company is preparing to mountaintop mine on the other side of his property, McKinley Sumner stands firm in defending his family’s homeplace," Melissa English, Southern Ohio Campaign Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

    Oct 6: Senator Sherrod Brown at Oberlin on Sunday, continues to duck mountaintop removal issue



    OBERLIN -- "Speaking at Oberlin College Sunday night, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown continued to duck the issue of mountaintop removal coal mining. In the seven months since S. 696 was introduced to ban the practice, 13,411 people have sent letters, messages, and children's illustrations from all over Ohio to Brown, urging him to co-sponsor it. In reply to questions, Brown said he hasn't taken the time to consider whether to co-sponsor it. When he was in the U.S. House, Brown co-sponsored a similar bill," Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

    Oct 5: Kids' drawings against mountaintop removal




    Oct 2: Congressman Steve Driehaus becomes 158th co-sponsor of mountaintop removal ban

    CINCINNATI -- "Today on the Library of Congress website, Ohio’s 1st District Congressman Steve Driehaus publicly announced his co-sponsorship of the Clean Water Protection Act, a bill which would effectively end mountaintop removal coal mining. The bill, HR 1310, sits in the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. From June 17 to September 25, people of the 1st District sent 1,315 messages to Congressman Driehaus urging his support of the mountaintop removal ban.  During that time, a total of 30,062 messages have been sent to members of both houses of Congress regarding HR 1310 and its companion in the senate, S.696,” Melissa English, Southern Ohio Campaign Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

    Oct 2: The Coalfield Uprising

    LEXINGTON, KY -- "Coalfield residents are not waiting for the Obama administration to come to their rescue. In fact, in the past year a surging activist and citizen lobbyist campaign has emerged as a fierce counterforce to the Big Coal lobby. The leaders of this growing and increasingly powerful movement are not content with a new era of stricter regulations in the coalfields. Their aim is to abolish mountaintop removal once and for all... Appearing on Diane Rehm's National Public Radio talk-show on September 3, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson openly agreed with a caller, Ohio Citizen Action organizer Kate Russell. Russell cited University of Maryland scientist Dr. Margaret Palmer's Senate hearing testimony that 'the impacts of mountaintop removal with valley fills are immense and irreversible, and there are no scientifically credible plans for mitigating these impacts. Let me first start by acknowledging that Kate's right,' Jackson responded. 'Much of the science shows that when you have a lot of, when you start to see a preponderance of stream miles filled in, you start to see higher conductivity levels, which is indicative of higher suspended solids, which starts to affect the aquatic ecosystems sort of from the bottom up,'" Jeff Biggers, The Nation.

    Oct 1: Survey: More Kentuckians are concerned about mountaintop removal mining

    LEXINGTON, KY -- "Mountaintop removal coal mining is moving up on the list of what Kentuckians identify as an environmental problem in the state, according to a new survey... On the first two surveys so few people mentioned mountaintop removal that it did not rank among the top concerns. This year, however, it came in third, with 14 percent saying it was the most important environmental problem facing the state. Mountain Justice organizer Dave Cooper of Lexington, who works to end the mining practice, said the survey is good news. In his work, he said, he has found many people who don't know that the electricity they use is produced by mining and burning coal. 'It looks like people are starting to learn about the true source of our nation's energy and what it means to the Appalachian coal fields,' Cooper said," Andy Mead, Lexington Herald-Leader.



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