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Friday, January 30, 2009

Update from Coal River Mountain

Here's an update from the Coal River Mountain Wind Team:

We wanted to write and give you an update on what's happening with the mountain. There has been a lot going on, not much of it in our favor, so we could still use your help in spreading awareness of the campaign and the urgency of the situation. Please continue to share our website and the story of Coal River Mountain with your friends and colleagues, and even write letters to your local newspapers and legislators urging their support for the residents of the Coal River Valley.

First of all, Massey has begun pre-mining activities below the ridge where the first phase of mining is set to begin. It is hard to determine exactly when they will be set to blast, and for now they have yet to construct a road up to the ridge, but they have shown their intent by clearing the forest and constructing a road and sediment ditches approximately 150 [ft?] below the ridge, so we expect that they will be ready to clear the ridge in the coming weeks, but we'll keep you updated on that.

We'd like to once again bring attention to the economic report conducted by Downstream Strategies out of Morgantown, WV that we released last December. The report analyzed the economic costs and benefits of going with wind versus mountaintop removal for Coal River Mountain, and concluded that the development of a 328 Megawatt wind farm (enough to power about 70,000 homes) stands as the best economic land use option for the mountain, the communities and the county government. This was the evidence we'd been waiting for, and we truly though for a while that the report couldn't be ignored by state and local leaders.

This hope was shattered on January 6th when we took the result of the study to the Raleigh County Commission. Instead of embracing the study's conclusions and the opportunity to diversify the local economy and bring in new industries that would help soften the blow of the boom-and-bust cycles of coal, the Commission chose to ignore the merits of the study altogether and instead chose not to "pit one industry against another." Unfortunately, the Commission and the state government are holding tight to that false logic, and so we are now hoping to catch the attention of national leaders who might help us in the fight for the future of the mountain.

We got a big boost in that effort yesterday when published a wonderful and comprehensive article about the campaign written by Appalachian author Jeff Biggers ("The United States of Appalachia"), whose own family home in Indiana has been destroyed by strip-mining for coal. The article gives a great accounting of the campaign since its beginnings, as well as a more comprehensive update on where the campaign now stands [editors note: the Salon article is a must read!]. gets nearly 6 million readers a month and so we appreciate Jeff's article and his persistence in spreading awareness for the wind campaign. You can read the article by clicking here.

We also continue to fight the proposed mining on legal grounds, and on February 10th we will be going before the Surface Mine Board to challenge the permit revision that was approved for the Bee Tree surface mine back in November. The hearing will be held at the Department of Environmental Protection headquarters in Kanawha City (Charleston) at 601 57th St. The hearing will begin at 8:30am, so if you're free please come out and show your support for Coal River Mountain. Here is a link for directions to the hearing.

That's about it for now, we will keep you updated as things happen and we hope you continue to support us in this effort.

With warm regards,

The Coal River Mountain Wind Team

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