Dark news yesterday coming out of West Virginia. In what may be an effort to sneak in some very bad news before the holiday, the West Virginia Department of "Environmental Protection" (seems like a misnomer today!) granted Massey Energy a permit to begin blasting away Coal River Mountain as soon as the company is ready. Massey plans to decimate the mountain to extract coal using a destructive mining practice know as mountain top removal (see previous posts here for more on the dastardly practice).
The destruction of Coal River Mountain is more than just a threat to the health of local residents and the area's diverse ecosystem. It's also a direct threat to the new, clean energy economy many West Virginians are trying to build.
As West Virginian "DanaWV" at ItsGettingHotInHere.org explains:
Coal River Mountain is slated for a 6,600 acre mountaintop removal site, but local residents have found that it is an ideal site for a wind farm, which would save the mountain from blasting, allow for permanent, safe jobs in the community, as well as provide clean, renewable energy to over 150,000 homes.Despite this clearly preferable economic and environmental option, the WV DEP has excluded public comment and moved ahead to grant Massey Coal permission to destroy the mountain.
According Appalachian Voices:
Extensive research has shown that Coal River Mountain has enough wind potential to provide electricity for between 100,000 and 150,000 homes, forever, while creating approximately 50 well-paying, permanent jobs in an area long dependent upon sparse, temporary coal mining jobs. The wind farm would also generate as much as ten times more county revenue than the Mountaintop Removal operations would, and in a county with a poverty rate of 18.5%, this additional income would help to stimulate new economic development projects and the creation of new jobs.
Despite the fact that both the Governor and the DEP have been presented with solid evidence supporting this claim, neither have acted to place a hold on the proposed mining. While Governor Manchin has ignored public opinion in support of a Coal River Mountain wind farm, the DEP has continued to exclude public comment on the mining permits, and now Massey Energy is set to begin blasting. ...
Now residents fear that the onset of mining, even for this first phase, will result in the loss of an opportunity to diversify the local economy and protect their homes from the negative impacts of Mountaintop Removal mining.
This video provides a look at threatened Coal River Mountain and the residents of the surrounding area:
Finally, there's more here, including a call to action, from Appalachain Voices:
It is time for Governor Manchin to do the right thing. He has been presented by members of Coal River Mountain Watch with research showing that a wind farm is the better economic option for Coal River Mountain. He has been told that the mining that could begin on the Bee Tree permit as early as today would immediately impact 24 Megawatts of wind potential, and therefore at least two permanent jobs related to the operation of the wind farm, and he knows that once a mining operation has begun it is nearly impossible for it to be stopped. His office has also received over 4,000 emails and nearly 500 phone calls calling for the Governor to stop the mining and support wind power.
The choice being made for Coal River Mountain between wind and Mountaintop Removal was also featured on CNN on October 6th, during which the DEP Secretary, Randy Huffman, stated that “There are only certain things that allow me to deny a permit, and what’s morally right or wrong in mine or someone else’s opinion is not one of those things.” So the citizens, after presenting the moral, environmental and economic arguments in favor of wind power, are now wondering what else they have to do to get the Governor to stand behind them, for while it is in his power to rescind the mining permits and allow a wind farm to be developed, Governor Manchin has so far refused to intervene.
However, Coal River Mountain Watch, along with concerned residents of the Coal River Valley, continue to ask the Governor to do the right thing for the state and for local residents by preventing the wind potential, and so the opportunity to stabilize and diversify the local economy, from being permanently destroyed by Massey’s Mountaintop Removal operation on Coal River Mountain.
To express your dismay and indignation over the potential destruction of Coal River Mountain, and ask Governor Manchin to make the choice to respect the residents of Coal River Mountain and invest in a green economy for West Virginia call his office at 1-888-438-2731.