Posts filed under ‘News stories’

Governor Fletcher, Silent on Mountaintop Removal

The Lexington Herald Leader carried an AP piece on the myriad ways that Governor Ernie Fletcher has been good for Appalachia:

* crackdown on (coal) truckers hauling overweight loads resulting in a significant decline in traffic fatalities
* pushing for more stringent laws to protect coal miners
* secured state funding to open drug treatment centers to help eastern Kentucky deal with widespread prescription drug addiction
* pushed for the creation of “coal academies” to train miners
* donating about 1,000 discarded state computers to low-income families in the region

If these accomplishments are genuine and pure, that’s great, but what about the biggest threat, namely mountaintop removal, to his region?

Dave Cooper, a Lexington environmentalist who has crusaded against blasting away mountaintops to expose coal seams, said the governor has been mum on the issue.

“I’m not a Fletcher basher,” Cooper said. “I really think he’s a decent guy. … Yet, I have never heard Gov. Fletcher say the words ‘mountaintop removal.'”


August 22, 2006 at 10:43 am Leave a comment

Do They Give a Damn About Their Bad Reputation?

Columnist David Hawpe of The Courier Journal (Louisville, KY) in his colum entitled “The safety train is running, and Bush nominees got tossed on the tracks” observes that coal mining in general and strip mining and mountaintop removal in particular are taking a beating in the mainstream press these days. He talks about the unexpected collateral damage – Bush mining nominees Richard Stickler and John Correll.

August 21, 2006 at 3:17 pm Leave a comment

“Mountain View” Removal

Clean energy advocates of wind power are meeting stiff resistance in Vermont from those, including environmentalists, who don’t want their rural mountain views obscured by wind turbines. I understand this, but it sure comes at the expense of their mountain cousins in the south who actually don’t really have to worry about ruined mountain views, just ruined mountains.

Vermont’s Reformer has this to report:

“For us to say we don’t want wind turbines in Vermont is irresponsible,” said James Moore, an environmental advocate with the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. “If not wind, are we going to be supporting coal and mountain top removal? Are we going to support oil and aging nuclear power plants and nuclear waste?”

And here’s more, a little closer to home. The West Virginia Gazette reports that the West Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, along with Coal River Mountain Watch – a strong opponent of mountaintop removal coal mining, have thrown thier weighty support behind Beech Ridge Energy’s 124 electricity-generating wind turbine project along mountain ridges in Greenbrier County pitting anti-wind power enviros against those opposed to mountaintop removal.

August 21, 2006 at 2:51 pm

A Concise History of Coal

Midnight at noon in Pittsburgh

Jason Godesky over at theANTHROPIKnetwork gives a dark, concise, and footnoted history of coal in America, replete with images and illustrations including an ignominious photograph of the smoky city of Pittsburgh in the mid-twentieth century. He avails himself of the remarkable knowledge and resources of one of the hardest working groups fighting mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia – Mountain Justice Summer. Godesky’s post is definitely worth a read.

August 9, 2006 at 11:45 am Leave a comment

An Inconvenient Question for Al Gore

“Are you for or against mountaintop removal to get at coal, which is going on as we speak in West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia?”

Jan Lundberg asks some pointed questions of and tells some inconvenient truths about Al Gore’s embracing of clean coal technology at Peace, Earth & Justice News.

August 8, 2006 at 1:46 pm Leave a comment

Clueless in Charleston

Wayne Washington, business reporter for the Charleston’s The State made these boneheaded comments about the Mountain Justice Summer protests at the Governors Association Convention against mountaintop removal coal mining.

Apparently, mountaintops are endangered. A protest group demonstrated Saturday on the streets of Charleston, handing out fliers decrying the removal of mountaintops during strip mining in West Virginia.

As unusual as their cause sounds, those gathered to draw attention to the practice said it’s a serious problem. The flier they distributed said mountaintop removal damages the environment and leads to flooding.

Worries me. Is this guy for real? Has this guy ever heard of the Appalachian Mountains? Or read a newspaper that matter? Apparently regional awareness is endangered.

August 7, 2006 at 11:46 am Leave a comment

Rest in Peace – but Not in Coal Country

In “Blast Rites” Grist Magazine reports on the grievous leveling of family cemetaries in Southern Appalachian as a result of mountaintop removal coal mining. In many cases, the coal company now owns the land where family cemetaries lay. By law, mine operators are not allowed to mine within 100 feet of a cemetary, but that doesn’t always stop them, nor does it lesson the damage incurred by blasting and coal dust, regardless of the 100 foot buffer. Reader beware, the following snips will make you sick.

So when Bowe pulled up on his four-wheeler in early April and spotted a coal company drilling in the middle of what he says was a known, if unnamed, cemetery on White Oak Mountain, he was livid…”I don’t see how the company wouldn’t have known — there was a tombstone sitting there,” he said later. “You can’t miss that. When you see crosses on top of something and sandstone markers, what do you usually associate that with?”


There are hundreds of accounts of sunken graves, uprooted Indian and slave burial grounds, family cemeteries blown to smithereens and compacted into valley fills.


Industry leaders Massey Energy Company, Arch Mineral, and their subsidiaries are accused of drilling under, mining over, or raining sulfurous and acidic emissions down on tombstones and graves across the region. “Many a known burial ground has been annihilated by drilling and blasting,” says Maria Gunnoe, a member of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.


Stover [Cemetary] sits on land now owned by Catenary Coal, and prospective visitors must obtain written permission from the company in advance. When Young and Gibson arrived for a visit last fall, they were refused entrance because guards could not find the email authorizing admission. After a few hours, they gained access, and Young was shocked at what she saw: about two-thirds of the gravestones were scraped to one side of the cemetery, and the wire perimeter fence was knocked over. Many of the graves, Young says, “were sinking into the ground because there were mining cracks, holes that were opening up because of the long wall mining that had been done underneath.”


Sarah Hamilton, a member of Coal River Mountain Watch, had to go through a safety class and sign a waiver absolving Massey of responsibility for her well-being before guards allowed her to enter the Marfork cemetery.


Werry recently discovered that previously readable headstones had become illegible after just 10 years of exposure to the air. And Young has noticed unusual wear and tear on the headstones in her family cemetery, which houses more than 200 graves.

*To be eligible for protection under federal law, a cemetery must be included in the National Register of Historic Places. Prospective registrants must complete a lengthy, multistep application and submit a detailed land survey to establish historical or archaeological significance, and Bonds believes hundreds of cemeteries were already lost by the time residents realized what the registration process entailed. The process of fighting offending coal companies is even more complicated: citizens must not only prove that a cemetery existed, they must provide evidence that the company was aware of that cemetery when it applied for its permit.

August 4, 2006 at 10:54 am 1 comment

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