June 19, 2013
Even in coal country, Big Coal is being met with grassroots resistance it hasn't experienced before.
Last week, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) upheld an earlier decision to deny a permit for a mountaintop-removal mine on Ison Rock Ridge in Wise County in southwest Virginia after an appeal by the A&G Coal Corporation. The opposition was led by activists from the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS) and the Sierra Club, and residents fed up with the destruction and devastating health effects from mountaintop-removal mining.
"I'm so pleased to finally see the DMME stand up for the people they are supposed to represent," said Sam Broach, president of SAMS. "The people living in the areas affected by surface mining can sleep well tonight knowing that the mountains above them won’t be blown up, and the air they breathe will be a little bit cleaner. This courageous decision will save our waterways, too."
The permit would have threatened to decimate nearby Callahan Creek -- already considered legally impaired by pollution -- and affect the health of families in the area. Nearly two dozen peer-reviewed studies have confirmed high rates of cancer, birth defects, and heart and lung diseases in people who live near mountaintop-removal sites -- a fact ignored by Big Coal.