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Friday, October 30, 2009

Breaking: EPA Sit-In to Spark Urgent Action on MTR

Graveyard of people and places lost to MTR

Live blog (See release below for more details:)

2:02 All activists still sitting inside. Outside protest marched under EPA archways chanting loudly and are still causin' a ruckus outside in solidarity. Activists aren't leaving until blasting on Coal River Mountain stops

1:57 more great photos and accounts from around the country from Jeff Biggers at HuffPo

1:07 first video looking into the protest in the main lobby (photographers not allowed inside...)

1:04 from Scott Parkin's twitter: "rally outside holdin strong while sit in still goin"

12:56 Photos uploaded here

12:50 Here's the letter WV resident Bo and Chuck tried to deliver to the EPA today. Download PDF

12:20 pm After 45 minutes, all activists still sitting with arms linked inside EPA main entrance.

14 Activists Stage a Sit-In at the EPA to Spark Urgent Action on Mountaintop Removal

Environmentalists Ask EPA to Stop Recent Blasting on Coal River Mountain, WV; Site of Proposed Wind Farm
WASHINGTON-- As part of a national day of action to stop mountaintop removal coal mining, 14 activists have staged a sit in at 11:30 the EPA. Dozens others are also holding a rally in front. They are asking the EPA to take immediate action to stop the mountaintop removal blasting that began this week on Coal River Mountain, WV, the site of a proposed wind farm.

While President Obama spent the week trumpeting his administration’s support for clean energy, Massey Energy began dynamiting Coal River Mountain in West Virginia, which is the site of the proposed 328-megawatt wind farm. Coal River Mountain gained national notoriety after a study showed that its peaks and ridges have enough wind potential to provide 70,000 households with electricity, support 700 long-term green jobs and give back $1.7 million in annual county taxes. Massey Energy began dynamiting those peaks this week in preparation for a massive mountaintop removal project.

Today, environmentalists have delivered a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson asking the EPA to intervene quickly and decisively to save Coal River Mountain for the safety of the community and the protection of their water protection.

Mountaintop removal (MTR) has been called the worst of the worst coal mining. MTR decapitates Appalachian peaks, denudes lush forests, and dumps debris into valley streams -- destroying or damaging more than a thousand miles of mountain waterways to date.

In recent months, the EPA has set out a number of new restrictions on the mining practice, including a recent decision to initiate a veto on the Spruce Mine in West Virginia due to water quality impacts—the first time the agency has done this with an existing valley fill permit. Environmentalists believe that the urgency of the Coal River Mountain case necessitates that the EPA intervene, and use their full authority to protect the Coal River Watershed.

"The Coal River Wind Campaign has been a symbol of hope for the people of the Coal River Valley," said Lorelei Scarbro, organizer for Coal River Mountain Watch. "My neighbors are excited about the idea of jobs that allow them to produce energy in a way that is sustainable. Coal River Mountain, the last standing mountain in the valley, should remain intact as a symbol for a new day in the Appalachian coalfields."

In the case of Coal River Mountain, MTR mining is not only destroying one of the last intact mountains in the area, but it is also creating blasting less than 100 yards from the largest coal sludge impoundment in the country. Massey Energy’s own assessment indicates that if the impoundment, an earthen dam, is breached more than eight billion gallons of coal slurry would spill out endangering hundreds of people who would have less than five minutes to evacuate.

Press Contacts: Stephanie Pistello, Nell Greenberg, 510.847.9777

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