Escalating pressure against the coal industry

EPA is our last line of defense:

I am not writing to give a history of how the Environmental Protection Agency was established. That has already been noted in a previous letter to the editor. Instead, I’d like to dwell on what its name is and isn’t, and what the real name is supposed to mean. This organization was not named, The Partial Environmental Protection Agency, nor was it named, The Protect The Environment To A Degree Agency. No, it was named what it is, The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA for short, and was really created to protect the environment in every way. The environment consists of land, water and air and all life (animal, human, plant) that live or exist in it depend on its protection for survival.
In the past several years, laws have been and are being passed that limit the EPA’s ability to protect the environment. Of particular interest in the Appalachian region is how the clean water and clean air acts have been amended so as to allow mining companies to more easily obtain permits for mountain top removal mining sites. Fact is, this type of mining is very destructive to the environment and all life living in and around it. It destroys forests, deprives wild animals of their natural habitat, poisons our water, fills our air with carcinogens (cancer causing agents), kills our aquatic life, and so forth. Underground mining is much more environmentally friendly, but modern mining companies say MTR is not as expensive so they do it at great cost to the environment and those who live in it.
Why a government would appoint and establish an agency to protect our environment, and then pass laws so it can’t, doesn’t make any sense to me. Then, on the other hand, if the U.S. Government did things that actually made sense, they wouldn’t be who they are. They say obesity is an epidemic (and it is), and so some lawmakers are making recommendations for a higher tax on soda pop, or to make it where soda pop can’t be purchased with food stamps. Well, they’ve accomplished higher taxes on cigarettes, and it hasn’t stopped people that smoke from smoking, nor would it stop people that drink soda pop from buying and drinking pop. It just makes more expense on the ones who use such products. All such taxes do is give the government more money to waste; and boy are they good at that.
Anyway, getting back to the EPA, if the government pays them to protect the environment, then passes laws so they can’t, and then pays them for what they can’t do, this is a huge waste of taxpayer’s dollars. There are those (I can picture a few mining executives in my mind) who are saying if that’s the case, then do away with the EPA. However that’s not what we need. What we need is for the EPA to be able to do its job in an unrestricted fashion. What we need is for the will of the American people to be done. What is that will? Well, a recent survey conducted by a major news agency showed that 57% of American people are opposed to mountain top removal coal mining.
When our government was founded, it was set up to be a government that served the will of the people and not the interests of giant banks and other huge corporations. As I see it, this includes all politician’s, regardless of party. Any of them can be bought off to vote in favor of corporations if the campaign contributions are high enough. That’s why all these occupy here and there movements are going on. The American people, and by that I mean the common citizens, are sick and tired of the way the U.S. Government is doing things, and they are voicing their frustrations and venting their anger. I share in their sentiments. Anyone who is patriotic to our country and how great our government once was and how it has become should feel this way.

John W. Stines

Stop Ison Rock Ridge destruction

To the editor:
I live in Appalachia, in the shadow of Ison Rock Ridge. You might not know this, but Ison Rock Ridge is a proposed site for mountaintop removal mining. Some people are saying that mining Ison Rock will create new jobs and help the economy. But mountaintop removal mines employ 40 percent fewer people on average than underground mines.

If A&G blows up Ison Rock Ridge, the surrounding communities of Andover, Derby, Arno, Inman and Appalachia will be in grave danger from explosions, poisoned water and polluted air. Already, Wise County has some of the highest rates of cancer, heart disease and respiratory illness in the state. It is simply unacceptable for an outside company to jeopardize our health and safety, all so that someone in Northern Virginia or Massachusetts or Lord knows where else can turn on a light switch.

The Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, in downtown Appalachia, are working hard to stop Ison Rock from being destroyed. It’s been almost five years, and Ison Rock Ridge is still standing. Come visit us, and help us keep on fighting.

Anna Culver

Appalachia, Va.

To the editor:
Born in the wake of elevated concern about environmental pollution, EPA was established on December 2, 1970 to consolidate in one agency a variety of federal research, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement activities to ensure environmental protection. Since its inception, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people.

We need to be looking at a way to protect people’s health, air, land and water instead of ways to protect the corporations, lobbyists and politicians pocketbooks. Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) and his Republican members of the House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Labor Department don’t think coal miner’s deserve better protection from black lung disease. In their FY 2012 appropriations bill they would prohibit the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) from using any funds to develop, promulgate, enforce or otherwise implement a new rule to protect miners from exposure respirable coal dust. (See page 36 in the bill.) This is a rule that has been in the works since at least 1996 when a federal advisory committee made comprehensive recommendations toward the goal of eliminating black lung disease in U.S. coal miners. It’s a sad day in the U.S.A. when lobbyists from Big Coal and Members of Congress decide behind closed doors that coal miners don’t deserve protection.

Labor Department data show that only a tiny percentage of companies that experience large layoffs cite government regulation as the reason. Since 2008, just two-tenths of 1 percent of layoffs have been due to government regulation. A recent study shows that in Central Appalachia, The U.S. Department of Energy projects that in a little more than three years, the amount of coal mined here will be just half of what it was. These industry officials and the region’s business and political leaders must be put on the spot for what their plan is for dealing with the inevitable production decline that has little if anything to do with environmental rules.
A study found that children in Central Appalachia suffer from an alarmingly high rate of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and shortness of breath — symptoms of something called blue baby syndrome — that can all be traced back to sedimentation and dissolved minerals that have drained from Mountaintop Removal mine sites into nearby streams. Long-term effects may include liver, kidney, and spleen failure, hair loss, bone damage, and cancers of the digestive tract. Cancer rates and birth defect rates are 26% higher than the rest of the state of Virginia as a whole. We live in a region whose people have suffered from health disparities far too long.
On another point, our family’s cemeteries are at risk of being destroyed. With Mountaintop Removal, even the dead can’t rest in peace. Family members want to know why the coal company has been illegally denying them access, relatives are trying to get onto the cemetery to clean it up, but the company kept them out of their own family graveyard, when a 3-year-old Virginia boy was crushed to death in his crib after a half-ton boulder was accidentally (and illegally) dislodged by a mining company, it barely made the national news. Graves have been “accidentally” buried cemeteries are in the company’s permit zone, so people who want to visit gravesites, including family visiting loved ones, must make arrangements with the coal company, pay for a safety training and purchase a hard hat and hard-toed boots, the coal companies have even blocked off the access road and the only way in meant probable arrest. So much for paying our respects.

Those of us who protest Mountaintop Removal do it for the environment, but we’re also fighting to prove we are not unwarranted burdens. Our water and air are being poisoned, but the most dangerous toxin is the message that people don’t matter. Mountaintop Removal is an environmental problem, but it’s a human crisis as well, scraping away not just coal but also the freedoms of Appalachian residents, people who have always been told they are of less value than the resources they live above. Congressman Griffith, I hope you will come to Wise County, Virginia one day after you do away with EPA regulations and explain to our future generations it was good for the economy when they can’t farm the land, breathe the air or drink the water.

Tim Mullins
Pound, Virginia

To the editor:

The other day, I watched the GOP presidential hopefuls debate and I heard one of the candidates call for the end of the reign of terror by the EPA, and I wondered, what is he talking about?

Living in Wise County, it is obvious where the reign of terror is coming from; it comes from mountain top removal coal mining and the devastation it leaves behind. Even some of our own residents do not realize that nearly 30 percent of Wise County has been blown up for coal and left for wasteland. Many do not realize that many of our headwater streams below surface mining sites are void of life. The aquatic life is dead in these impaired waterways because they are poisoned and these waterways flow into rivers that spread their toxic effects downstream. Do you not think that might affect people too?

According to a recent health study by Dr. Michael Hendryx, associate director of the University of West Virginia’s Institute for Health Policy Research, there is a documented direct link between the practice of mountain top removal coal mining and 60,000 cases of cancer among a population of 1.2 million people living in Central Appalachia where the mining occurs. Residents living in the region where the mining is practiced are twice as likely to develop cancer than community members living in the region in areas without surface mining.

This attack on the EPA is indicative of an attempt for government takeover by corporations. Without the EPA, they would be free to pollute and kill without consequence and all in the name of “jobs.” According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, Central Appalachian coal production is down 20 percent since 2008 and the federal Energy Information Administration expects another 50 percent drop in production by 2015. The coal is running out in Central Appalachia.

Congressman Griffith, Gov. McDonell and all others who sit in places of power should stop protecting corporate interests and start thinking about the future survival of the people they are supposed to represent.

Jane Branham

Norton

— Stop blowing up mountains and invest in our future

To the Editor:
How will we explain to future generations that blowing up the Appalachian Mountains was good for the economy if our kids cannot breathe the air, farm the land or drink the water afterward?

In Appalachia, there is a 1,200-acre mountain called Ison Rock Ridge in the cross-hair to be blasted into oblivion. Also in danger is the community of Andover. Sadly the creek in between Ison Rock Ridge and Andover is impaired because of mountaintop removal. Other communities in this area have been destroyed along with people’s homes, health and lives. Callahan Creek also is impaired and miles of watershed are dying. People are fishing and recreating in these streams, rivers and lakes. Plus, here in Appalachia, we are still baptizing our people in these rivers and lakes.

I am conducting door to door health surveys in the communities of Appalachia, Virginia and one very disturbing result is that approximately 85 percent of residents are not confident in the health of their tap water, lakes, streams and rivers.

We need electricity, but there are better ways to provide it than exploding our mountains especially when we are experiencing climate change, more horrific weather patterns that are flattening or drowning cities while we the people are paying the price in health effects and horrific crippling snow storms, flooding and drought all over this nation. Now the new technology is providing more jobs and prosperity, it is time we quit living in the past on fossil fuel energy and move to new energy initiatives and kick start a new economic revolution in America.

Let’s move forward and invest in our future instead of living in the past.

Tim Mullins
Pound, Va.

To the editor:

Now that the weather is warm, I love to walk outside and look at the beautiful mountains surrounding Andover. I usually stop and talk to my neighbors that are outside and sometimes I sit on the porch with them and talk for awhile. Most of the time before I leave, Ison Rock Ridge and the EPA will be brought into the conversation.

The people of Andover are worried about the Ison Rock Ridge permit and how it will affect their lives if it is issued. They are worried about the coal dust, increased trucks on the road, the blasting and the effects on Callahan Creek. They are so thankful that the EPA is doing their job and holding up the permit because of water issues with Callahan Creek.

It seems like our politicians want to do away with the EPA. Funding for the EPA has already been cut. Why is this? Because the EPA is looking out for the health of the people, instead of the wealth of the coal companies. The coal companies are lobbying our legislators to ignore the environmental impact of mountaintop removal by cutting the funding and authority of the EPA.

Folks, we need to let our elected officials know that we oppose any effort to do away with the EPA. We should also let the EPA know that we appreciate what they are doing to protect our environment here in Wise County.

Let’s hope that the Ison Rock Ridge permit is denied and that the people in our area can stop worrying about the permit. Until that day comes, I plan to keep on fighting and hope that my friends and neighbors will do the same.

Judy Needham

Andover

To the editor:

As a resident of the coalfields of Southwest Virginia, I am very concerned about the detrimental effects mountaintop-removal coal mining has on residents, the economy, the environment and waterways of the Appalachian Mountains. It seems as if every day the beautiful mountains that make this area spectacular are being stripped away by mining companies using dynamite and heavy machinery to rip the tops of mountains away. Even historic cemeteries have been destroyed.

Numerous residents have been impacted by flooding directly caused by debris from mountaintop mining being dumped into waterways. Well water is often contaminated with iron, sulfur and other pollutants that make it too foul to be consumed.

Mining companies using this method of mining are able to remove coal from sites in a few years. Fewer people are employed at the sites and for much shorter periods of time than at mine sites using traditional, less invasive methods. The economic impact is disastrous for an area already hard-hit by the recession.

I am asking Virginians to contact their state and federal representatives in support of the introduced federal legislation that would mend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to prevent debris from mountaintop coal mining from being dumped into nearby valleys and waterways.

Cheryl Mefford.

Pound.
To the editor:

I live in coal country, Wise County, Va. A coal miner’s daughter who remembers Lady Bird Johnson’s “War on Poverty” in Appalachia; who remembers times of more prosperity than now, when businesses thrived, when jobs were plentiful, when the U.M.W.A. had a strong presence here, when we enjoyed the beauty of our mountains and forests and when we could fish and swim in our rivers and streams.

Those memories are now reminders of all we have lost, replaced by poisoned streams, barren moonscapes where mountains once stood, more poverty, ghost towns and ruthless coal giants who have polluted and destroyed over 25 percent of my county by surface and mountain top removal coal mining and who have managed to buy and pocket politicians and judges to assist them in their quest for profit.

Until recently, these rapists have managed to hide their crimes from public view but their greed is now becoming visible from the highways. Drive north on U.S. 23 through Norton and look to your left; this is the legacy that will be left when they are done.

I see all the bumper stickers distributed by the coal companies that say things like, “Ban Mining, Let the Bastards Freeze in the Dark”, “Coal Keeps the Lights On” and “Earth First, We’ll Mine the Rest of the Planets Later”, “You Think Coal Is Ugly, Wait Until You See Poverty” and “Friends of Coal”. Let me just say that my friends are people, not rocks and as for poverty, the coalfield counties are the poorest in the state.

Eleven percent of the population in my area are employed in the coal industry. Appalachian coal has a high metallurgic property and the real truth is that the vast majority of Appalachian coal is exported to Asia to make steel; steel that used to be made here in this country. Now are we to export our water, mountains, heritage and future as well?

I hear our bought-off politicians attacking the EPA for having the audacity to question the environmental impacts of mountain top removal coal mining on mountains, forests, water and people. I can tell you that they are questioning it because they are finding adverse impacts. I suppose it’s okay when it’s not in their back yards. I suppose they don’t worry that people in the coalfields have a 26 percent higher premature death rate that the state of Virginia as a whole. They don’t worry because their children don’t risk a much higher rate of birth defects because they don’t live here. I guess they don’t care that mountain top removal coal mining is killing people.

Elected officials are elected by people, right? Or do corporations now run our government? It seems that coal corporations do run our state government but now seeing that a bill just passed out of committee in the House of Representatives that would gut the EPA’s ability to regulate mountain top removal coal mining and turn authority over to individual states, it seems that corruption only runs deeper than I’d thought. The EPA is the last line of defense that people have against corporate pollutors. Virginia’s state agencies are nothing more than arms of the coal industry. I call upon people everywhere to let the EPA know that you support them in holding the coal industry accountable for their actions and for their inactions.

Jane Branham

Norton

To the editor:
As I write this, hundreds of people from all across the country are marching in West Virginia as a part of the March on Blair Mountain – a grassroots event to save the historic Blair Mountain, site of the momentous labor union uprising the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain, and all other mountains in Appalachia from destructive mountaintop removal mining.

The Battle of Blair Mountain was a pivotal moment in the U.S. labor movement and was critical in attaining collective bargaining rights throughout the country that led to practices that are now taken for granted, such as the eight-hour work day, the weekend and maternity leave. The fact that the coal industry feels it’s necessary to destroy this mountain is symbolic of the fact that corporations across the United States are trying to destroy the labor movement, a movement that fights for the American worker.

Here in Big Stone Gap and Appalachia, we fight our own battles: A&G Coal Co. and others pollute our own waters and air and threaten our health. The struggle occurring in Blair is symbolic of a larger movement that is trying to take back the U.S. for working people.

Judiana Clark
Big Stone Gap, Va.

To the Editor

Last week, while traveling out of town, I kept myself amused by reading the various road signs. “Grampa Lane” I read, and sure enough, I saw an elderly gentleman sitting on the porch, watching young children at play. There was also “Big Bear Holler”, “Ground Hog Road”, and my personal favorite, “Flying Pig Road”. I never did see any big bears or groundhogs. I was looking overhead for those flying pigs, but never saw those either.

All this got me to thinking about how things get named. I imagine it has to do with the landscape, wildlife, or in honor of a person perhaps. All of which gave me a shocking jolt back to reality.

If the 1,200 acre surface mine permit for Ison Rock Ridge is passed, we will eventually have to make a few name changes around Appalachia and the coal camps. It might be going something like this: Roda could either become Dust Bowl Holler or Asthma Central. How about Ghost Town #1, previously known as Stonega. Andover might be Cancer Capitol. We could have places such as Slurry Pond Bridge, Poisoned Well Holler, No Hope Farms, and the Mount of Destruction. Ison Rock Ridge might as well be Eyesore Rock Ridge. We could still use the ever popular Lonesome Pine. It would be a good fit cause we’d be lucky to have even one pine tree left.

I know we need jobs around here, but if one person’s job destroys someone else’s health, property, or quality of life, what kind of job is that? If I dumped toxic waste into a stream, I’d be fined, jailed or both, and rightly so. But the coal companies do the same thing daily and get by with it. Who is supposed to hold them accountable? With the devestating economic, health, and environmental impacts this permit would allow, I urge you to support the EPA in continuing to withold approval.

If this permit for destruction is passed, we might as well change the name of Appalachia to Appalling.

Judiana Clark
Big Stone Gap

Letter to the Editor:
I live in coal country, Wise County, Va. A coal miner’s daughter who remembers Lady Bird Johnson’s “War on Poverty” in Appalachia; who remembers times of more prosperity than now, when businesses thrived, when jobs were plentiful, when the U.M.W.A. had a strong presence here, when we enjoyed the beauty of our mountains and forests and when we could fish and swim in our rivers and streams.

Those memories are now reminders of all we have lost, replaced by poisoned streams, barren moonscapes where mountains once stood, more poverty, ghost towns and ruthless coal giants who have polluted and destroyed over 25 percent of my county by surface and mountain top removal coal mining and who have managed to buy and pocket politicians and judges to assist them in their quest for profit.

Until recently, these rapists have managed to hide their crimes from public view but their greed is now becoming visible from the highways. Drive north on U.S. 23 through Norton and look to your left; this is the legacy that will be left when they are done.

I see all the bumper stickers distributed by the coal companies that say things like, “Ban Mining, Let the Bastards Freeze in the Dark”, “Coal Keeps the Lights On” and “Earth First, We’ll Mine the Rest of the Planets Later”, “You Think Coal Is Ugly, Wait Until You See Poverty” and “Friends of Coal”. Let me just say that my friends are people, not rocks and as for poverty, the coalfield counties are the poorest in the state.

Eleven percent of the population in my area are employed in the coal industry. Appalachian coal has a high metallurgic property and the real truth is that the vast majority of Appalachian coal is exported to Asia to make steel; steel that used to be made here in this country. Now are we to export our water, mountains, heritage and future as well?

I hear our bought-off politicians attacking the EPA for having the audacity to question the environmental impacts of mountain top removal coal mining on mountains, forests, water and people. I can tell you that they are questioning it because they are finding adverse impacts. I suppose it’s okay when it’s not in their back yards. I suppose they don’t worry that people in the coalfields have a 26 percent higher premature death rate that the state of Virginia as a whole. They don’t worry because their children don’t risk a much higher rate of birth defects because they don’t live here. I guess they don’t care that mountain top removal coal mining is killing people.

Elected officials are elected by people, right? Or do corporations now run our government? It seems that coal corporations do run our state government but now seeing that a bill just passed out of committee in the House of Representatives that would gut the EPA’s ability to regulate mountain top removal coal mining and turn authority over to individual states, it seems that corruption only runs deeper than I’d thought. The EPA is the last line of defense that people have against corporate pollutors. Virginia’s state agencies are nothing more than arms of the coal industry. I call upon people everywhere to let the EPA know that you support them in holding the coal industry accountable for their actions and for their inactions.

Jane Branham, Norton

Mining ridge will damage localities

I don’t speak out or speak up very often, unless I have something or can contribute to the conversation in a logical and concise manner.

I feel that that time has arrived and the topic is the rape and pillage of Ison Rock Ridge. For two years the Environmental Protection Agency has held off the attempts by the coal companies and members of Congress seeking another term in office and lobbyists to get permits to surface mine Ison Rock Ridge. Two years the EPA has held fast in its view that the mining of this site, which is 1,300 acres, would be detrimental to the surrounding area, destroying streams, and generally wrecking the local ecosystem. Now it would appear the EPA is caving in to the demands of Big Coal and lobbying firms.

The mining of this ridge in my opinion would wholeheartedly destroy Big Stone Gap and most of Appalachia; if not physically I’m sure it would economically. Who would want to live in a place where you hear nothing but blasting and the noise of machines all day and maybe all night? And to all the people here who are against the school merger, well you can thank the coal companies for that too. As it happens right under Appy High School there is very large and very rich coal seam.

If Ison Rock Ridge gets mined lots of people will move out of the area and this already bleeding area will hemorrhage completely and there will be nothing left. I suppose that’s good for King Coal because then there won’t be any of us pesky citizens around to complain about anything.

And concerning the argument that coal powers America, well that’s just as good a fantasy as any J.R.R.Tolkein could come up with. A large majority of the coal mined in America goes to steel mills in America and to China and other foreign countries.

I’m no fan of government but I’m asking the EPA to step up and deny the permits for this surface mine. To actually protect us and protect the environment. Is that too much to ask? That at least one government agency does their jobs?

And before you come at me or anyone else saying we want your jobs I’ll tell you this. Change your mind set and learn something new. A new trade. Listen folks, coal like everything else won’t last forever. And when it’s gone it’s gone. Wind and sun power and the best of them all geothermal, well those will be around for billions of years. Learn how to install, maintain and or inspect these systems and that’s a lot safer and more comfortable job than slaving for a coal company and raping the environment.

Johnny Messer, Big Stone Gap

Progress? Use Your ‘Noggin’

To the Editor:

As I get older I find it harder to concentrate on things. Being a brand new great grandfather is teaching me to use the “Ole Noggin” more, as my dad used to say. Retirement is teaching me to read a lot and do a lot of thinking about things. My life, family, neighbors, my walk with God, finances, etc. I think as we approach our senior years we tend to put things more in perspective, more so than when we were younger.

I have come to the conclusion that we, as a whole, don’t do enough thinking; we don’t concentrate on things enough. When that happens then someone else has to do our thinking for us whether it be our spouse, our kids, our friends and family. We even tend to let our T.V.s do a lot of our thinking for us. A lot of folks don’t “draw their own conclusions” on issues anymore. They just agree with the “status quo.” I have even had people ask me how I was going to vote because they couldn’t make up their minds.

What I am trying to say is we have a lot going on here in Wise County and we need to do a lot of thinking on different issues instead of agreeing with the majority most of the time.

Now I know this is a little long but it needs to be said. As you read this I want you to use the “Ole Noggin” and slow down enough to think about it. Can you remember back 20 or 30 years ago or so? This area was flourishing economically. Big Stone Gap had two theaters, six bars, three or four grocery stores, six or seven sit-down restaurants, a teen center, bus terminal, three taxi services, three radio and TV repair shops, clothing stores, department stores, hardware stores and a host of other businesses, and all doing very well. Appalachia was just as well off with just about as much business as Big Stone Gap.

So I got to thinking: What happened? Was it progress? If so it went in the wrong direction because we now have as many or more empty buildings than we do businesses. Every other building is deserted or has been torn down.

Now if you will use that “Ole Noggin” for a minute you will remember that during that time the UMWA was very active in this area and had a lot of people working. This, in turn, brought prosperity to our area. We had a lot of UMWA miners and their families spending a lot of money here at home. One of the things I remember about the union is that they took pride in “safety.” Safety for the men and for working conditions. Sure we had some accidents from time to time. Some were tragic accidents but that increased our efforts to make working conditions safer.

UMWA were a “line of defense” for the working man/woman and their families. For the most part we have lost that line of defense here. Our only line of defense has been the regulatory agencies set up to “protect the people.”

Big coal companies have moved in, run the union off, and gained control of our regulatory agencies. Before you quit reading, think about how it was and how it is now. You can’t chalk that up to progress. This is not progress, this is destruction. Now they are attacking our last line of defense. And if you think about it long enough you will see how they are the ones that are trying to run us off and take our very heritage.

Now I will tell you what our last line of defense is. It’s the Environmental Protection Agency. If we sit back and let king coal continue to do our thinking for us they will destroy what’s left here in Wise County and the rest of our nation. The EPA is set up to protect the people, not big corporations. Right now the EPA is doing its best to protect our waters, our air, and our way of life here but if we give control over to the big companies they will finish the county off. A lot of our small streams are already dead and can’t support life. It will take years to get our rivers and streams back to normal.

Listen people, I’m no politician and never want to be. After spending a few years on these issues I’ve learned that most politicians have their own agenda going on and it’s not us. All I ask is “Use Your Noggin.” Think for yourself, come to your own conclusions, and most of you will agree with me when I say enough is enough. Don’t let big money destroy our last line of defense. The EPA is set up to protect you, not big coal.

Sam Broach

Big Stone Gap

Mining Method Takes a Hit

To the editor:

Just want everyone to know I am definitely and sincerely a friend of coal, a friend of mountains and miners, BUT am not at all a friend of mountaintop removal.

I hear there’s a bumper sticker that reads “If you think Coal is ugly, wait until you see poverty.” Well it seems poverty runs amok here in Pound, Appalachia and soon in St. Paul. Where is the progress and prosperity when our high schools are being closed because there’s no money to keep them open? Mountaintop removal is destroying our communities, polluting our air, land and water to the point that our lakes, streams, rivers and watersheds are either already dead or dying.

Why do we need MTR when it creates fewer jobs than underground coal mining? Why is it okay to blast and bomb our home for cheap coal when our people are suffering from high rates of cancer along with our wildlife that is also being poisoned? I hope anyone who hunts and fishes in Wise County isn’t eating any of their fowl or fish or sharing it with their family and friends because it’s poisoned from heavy toxic metals in the raw water here.

When a mountain is blown to smithereens don’t believe in the myth that it’s being either reclaimed or restored; that’s a lie the big corporations don’t want you to know. I’m sure you’ve heard of a group called SAMS or Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards. Apparently SAMS is a four letter word because SAMS is trying to keep our mountains intact and is trying to support our local businesses instead of supporting the big corporate giants who are destroying the future for you, your kids and grandchildren. See this web site to learn more: http//www.samsva.org.

Don’t think you should shop local at Christmas time; we should shop local all the time. Support our local hardware stores, local gift shops, and local mechanics and tire dealers. We depend on products that come from China or India too much and it’s time to put American businesses ahead of Japanese products or any products imported from outside the USA. Make sure when you shop the product is made in America or don’t purchase it!

Tim Mullins, Pound