BIG STONE GAP, VA – The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) held a formal appeal on July 29 for the denial of A&G’s permit application to mine Ison Rock Ridge. A&G issued the formal appeal earlier this year. Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS) and the Sierra Club applaud the DMME’s original decision and have opposed A&G’s formal appeal, arguing that A&G failed to take the necessary steps in applying for the permit.
Community members from the impacted communities of Appalachia, Inman, Andover, Arno, and Derby, and SAMS members have fought the proposed Ison Rock Ridge surface mine for the last seven years. The threat of increased truck traffic, coal dust, and stream sedimentation and pollution has loomed over these communities, endangering their livelihood. The proposed valley fills of the operation would bury headwater streams and further impair Callahan Creek. Additionally, in numerous peer-review studies, communities near mountaintop removal operations have been shown to have higher rates of cancer, heart disease, lung and kidney disease, and birth defects. The destruction of Ison Rock Ridge amidst coal’s inevitable decline would have grave effects on the long-term health and viability of the area.
“I hope that this will be the end of the Ison Rock Ridge permit, justice will be done, and the people in the communities affected by the permit can finally know that our mountains will be there hopefully forever.” SAMS member and Andover resident Judy Needham said after the hearing.
The DMME denied A&G’s permit application for Ison Rock Ridge in February of last year due to the coal company’s outstanding mine permit violations in Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia and failure to post the necessary bond and fees. Following today’s hearing, a ruling will be issued after written closing arguments have been submitted.
Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards was represented in this matter by the Sierra Club.