May 31, 2016
Alpha Natural Resources, the bankrupt coal company that continues to conduct mountaintop removal (a public health hazard) while its executives reap millions in bonuses and lay off underground miners and cut retirees' benefits, has another mountaintop removal site on the drawing board. The Eagle South site would destroy 1,028 acres on Coal River Mountain above the communities of Rock Creek and Arnett. A big part lies between Rock Creek and Righthand Fork, only three-tenths of a mile from some of the homes on Rock Creek Road and only half a mile up the holler from our previous volunteer house. If you think that mountaintop removal is over, think again. Please help us stand against this as well as the "Center Contour" permit (see below).
The "Center Contour" permit is for 561 acres filling in between the Collins Fork site and the 2,000-acre Eagle #2 site, which is approved but not yet started. The Eagle South site would be a 2-mile by 2-mile by 2-mile horseshoe (the yellow section on the map above) extending south from the Center Contour site (S300316).
Please help us tell the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection "No more mountaintop removal!" by telling the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection's permit supervisor, Tom Wood, that he must deny the Center Contour permit (S300316). The Eagle South site does not yet have a permit number and is not yet advertised for comment. And just so you know, the WVDEP is required by law to send your letter or email to the coal company, and it becomes part of the public record that anyone can access. Comments need to include the permit number (S300316). You can email them to Tom Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org or send by US postal service to
DEP Regional Office
254 Industrial Drive
Oak Hill, WV 25901
Here's what we said:
Dear Mr. Wood,
Coal River Mountain Watch OPPOSES bankrupt Alpha Natural Resources subsidiary Republic Energy’s Article 3 permit application number S300316. We request an informal conference at a time and place convenient to the citizens of Naoma, Dry Creek, Rock Creek, Arnett, Clear Creek, and Artie, all of Raleigh County. Liberty High School in Glen Daniel would be a suitable location. In accordance with WV Code 22-3-20, we also request access to the proposed mining area for the purpose of gathering information relevant to the proceeding. We request that the site visit take place at least one week prior to the informal conference and that it include at least four citizens so that the information gathered may be used to inform others in sufficient time prior to the proceeding.
We oppose the permit for several reasons which will be elaborated upon at the informal conference. These reasons include, but are not limited to, the following.
This site will create a public health hazard. Numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies clearly demonstrate that this type of mining leads to significantly elevated rates of cancer, birth defects, heart disease, blood inflammation, depression, and other serious and deadly illnesses. A list of the studies with links to them is available at http://ohvec.org/issues/mountaintop_removal/articles/health/. Of particular interest is the study titled “Appalachian Mountaintop Mining Particulate Matter Induces Neoplastic Transformation of Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells and Promotes Tumor Formation.” Approving this permit would contradict WV Dept. of Environmental Protection’s mission “to promote a healthy environment.”
West Virginia’s taxpayers will be at risk of bearing the reclamation costs because of Alpha’s weak financial status. Reclamation at Alpha’s recently idled Edwight site and Twilight complex proceeds at a snail’s pace, contributing to public health impacts each day that these dusty plateaus remain as bare rubble. Even WVDEP has serious doubts about Alpha’s ability to live up to its reclamation obligations: “DEP’s own estimates of Alpha’s reclamation and water treatment obligation in the State of West Virginia runs to roughly $1 billion on an undiscounted basis,” according to the article “West Virginia Regulators Question Alpha’s Apparent Intent to Abandon Mine-Reclamation Liabilities” at http://ieefa.org/west-virginia-regulators-question-alphas-apparent-intent-abandon-mine-reclamation-liabilities/.
Vast stretches of the mountain will be unusable for gathering ginseng, mushrooms, berries, ramps, and other traditional resources. Habitat for endangered bats, which control disease-carrying mosquitoes, will be destroyed.
WVDEP has a duty to protect the people and environment. To even consider granting this permit flies in the face of common sense and common decency. We urge you to do the right thing and deny this permit.