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News, Press Room

EPA objects to 3 more permits!

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Environmental Protection Agency Intervenes to Block A&G Coal’s Ison Rock Ridge Mine
Community members applaud decision to protect streams, residents

Contacts: Oliver Bernstein, Sierra Club, 512.477.2152
Kathy Selvage, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards 276.523.4380 or 276.328.1223

Appalachia, Virginia — In a victory for community members and for clean water, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to revoke the “nationwide 21” mining permit for A&G Coal’s massive Ison Rock Ridge mountaintop removal coal mine in Southwest Virginia. The news comes only weeks after a delegation of Appalachian coalfield residents met with the EPA in Washington, D.C. urging the Agency to take quick action to protect their communities from the ravages of mountaintop removal coal mining. The bold move is the latest clear signal that the Obama Administration is taking action on mountaintop removal coal mining and supports clean energy solutions and green jobs. Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS), a community organization based in Wise County, Virgina, and the Sierra Club have worked for two years to oppose strip mining on Ison Rock Ridge.

“This is a great day! I am hopeful it means the beginning of the end of the wholesale destruction of the Appalachian mountains, its watersheds, its streams, its people, and its soul,” said Kathy Selvage, vice president of SAMS.

The Army Corps had been relying on a cookie-cutter “nationwide” permit for the Ison Rock Ridge mine, but the EPA cites Clean Water Act concerns in its recommendation that the Army Corps revoke the permit for this mine. By dumping its mining waste into valleys and waterways, the Ison Rock Ridge mountaintop removal coal mining operation would be extremely destructive. Residents are also concerned with the proximity of the proposed mine to their homes, as portions of the permit are within the corporate limits of the town of Appalachia and surround several other nearby communities.

“I’m so relieved and grateful the EPA has taken this action.” said Gary Bowman, whose home is only hundreds of feet away from a proposed sediment pond for the permit. “We were stuck between a rock and a hard place with this permit and are so happy that we will be able to stay in our home.”

The company that operates the Ison Rock Ridge site, A&G Coal, is known for its role in the August 20, 2004 tragedy in which a boulder from an A&G strip mine rolled down a hillside and crashed into a family’s Wise County home below, killing a sleeping three-year-old child in his bedroom.

“The days of reckless, unchecked destruction of Appalachian mountains are numbered,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Deputy Director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign. “There is much more work to do, but President Obama’s EPA has taken bold action on mountaintop removal coal mining, and we applaud their intervention.”

The Ison Rock Ridge permit in Wise County, Virginia, covers nearly 1,300 acres and would destroy three miles of streams and fill nine lush valleys with more than 11 million cubic yards of rock and dirt. The massive mountaintop removal coal mine would surround the community of Derby, bringing destruction within a half mile of the historic district, eliminating the community’s tourism appeal. Other nearby affected communities include Andover, Inman, and Osaka and the Town of Appalachia.

“I’m walking on air,” said Derby resident Bob Mullins, who recently returned from a meeting with the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “I feel like we’ve finally accomplished something. This is a great victory to start with and now it’s time to get our friends and neighbors together to continue fighting for the cause and building this movement that is truly gaining momentum.”

Mountaintop removal mining is a destructive form of coal mining that has already contaminated or destroyed nearly 2,000 miles of streams. The mining poisons drinking water, lays waste to wildlife habitat, increases the risk of flooding and wipes out entire communities. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org/MTR or www.samsva.org.

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5 Responses to “EPA objects to 3 more permits!”

  1. Katie Says:

    This is amazing, I am so thankful that at least one mountain can be saved. I hope this is not temporary.

  2. Peggy Arthur Says:

    This is beyond my dream of saving my WV town and home. My father was a coal miner all his working life and I remember
    as a child him say how destructive mountain top removal was.
    At that time the mountains were respeced….how did it get out of hand?

    Thank God for the Obama administration for moving all of us to be kind to our Mother Earth.

  3. Larry Bush Says:

    God put the coal here for us to use. Mine Baby Mine!

  4. D. R. Adam Says:

    I believe God also gave us mountains, clean air, clean water, and the intelligence to take care of the planet and still be able to use these natural resources. There are other ways to mine coal besides destroying mountains and their surroundings. We are the stewards of the earth and we should be working together to do what we can to preserve it’s beauty. If we expect it to sustain us, we should be willing to support the citizens and organizations who are attempting to find alternative sources of energy. Don’t we owe that to future generations?

  5. Richard Malle Says:

    Well as a surface coal miner myself I have a family of 8 including myself and instead of wanting to destroy a lot of peoples lives and childrens lives hell I could barely have a christmas for my children because of what you people are doing… do you really not realize that you used coal to turn on your computer to access this website and to write your comments its 50% of the energy you do realize that when you decide to save mountains what about oil fields that are drilled in the middle of the ocean? that ok ?? I mean your just pinpointing coal and nothing else yeah im sure it can be better everything can always be better but your going to drive everything through the roof and its going to cause a lot more damages to people and lives for generations to come much more devastating to human life that something of no life..

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