Citizens Picket DMME in Protest of Ison Rock Ridge Surface Mine Permit

Please support the work of the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards by clicking this link to keep up the pressure on the EPA in order to Keep Ison Rock Ridge Standing.

Late this morning, around 20 Wise County residents gathered at the offices of the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy in Big Stone Gap to rally in opposition to A&G Coal’s proposed Ison Rock Ridge surface mine. Picketers held signs with slogans including, “Ison Rock Ridge is families. Keep it standing!” and “Don’t blast our homes.” As part of the rally, two individuals delivered a “Certificate of Failure” to the DMME for failing to protect communities.

Residents of Inman, Derby, Arno, and Andover – communities that are directly adjacent to the pending 1,200+ acre mountain-top removal mine – took turns addressing the crowd to express their disapproval of the DMME’s apparent support for the project..”

“The DMME and the state of Virginia seem to be ignoring regulations protecting our waterways. It’s a shame we have to contact Washington DC to get our state officials to obey the law,” said Jane Branham a resident of Big Stone Gap and Vice President of the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS), the Wise County-based community group that organized the demonstration.

Ben Hooper, a resident of Inman added, “The DMME’s not there to protect us. It’s their job to keep the coal money flowing to Richmond not to make sure the coal is mined responsibly.”

The event was held on the heels of the DMME’s May 12th statement of “approval” for a portion of the proposed mine above the community of Inman. The state regulatory agency’s action was taken despite the fact that the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers continue to hold the pending mine’s NPDES permit for review due to evidence that strip-mining of such scale invariably violates the Clean Water Act. If operated, this particular mine would destroy three miles of streams and fill nine valleys with more than 11 million cubic yards of rock and dirt. The EPA has sent a letter to the DMME reiterating that the pertinent permits remain under federal jurisdiction.

“This thing would have happened nearly three years ago if it hadn’t been for us.” declared Dorothy Taulbee, a former resident of Stonega, referring to the previous successes of SAMS’ work to preserve the communities surrounding Ison Rock Ridge. The organization was formed in 2007 and has been fighting the Ison Rock Ridge permit since the beginning. In 2008, SAMS secured meetings between community members and EPA representatives and mobilized dozens of local residents to speak out against the proposal at public hearings. These efforts led to the EPA’s intervention in the permitting process, halting the mine thus far.

On Tuesday and over the course of this week, supporters of SAMS from across the state will be visiting Senator Jim Webb’s offices in Roanoke, Virginia Beach, and Falls Church to deliver a message from coalfield residents asking for the Senator’s support in defending the communities adjacent to Ison Rock Ridge. A similar event will take place at the EPA’s region 3 offices in Philadelphia where allies of the local organization will deliver a letter thanking the agency for affording adequate scrutiny and oversight to the proposed mountain-top removal mine, and asking that the NPDES permit be ultimately denied.

The Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards supports deep-mining and other industries that provide jobs for the people of Wise County. Mountaintop removal mining employs very few workers, instead favoring explosives and heavy machinery to extract coal. SAMS is concerned about the impacts A & G’s Coal Company’s proposed mine would have on nearby streams that have already exceeded acceptable levels of pollution from mine discharge, and will regard the issuance of the Ison Rock Ridge Permit by the DMME to be in violation of the Clean Water Act. The Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards will continue to fight for the people of Appalachia and surrounding communities until the permits for the Ison Rock Ridge mine are denied once and for all.

Please pass this story onto your friends and neighbors and take a moment to support the work of the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards by clicking this link to keep up the pressure on the EPA in order to Keep Ison Rock Ridge Standing.

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5 Responses to Citizens Picket DMME in Protest of Ison Rock Ridge Surface Mine Permit

  1. Donna Sechrist says:

    I oppose the proposed mine at Ison Rock Ridge. The envioronmental impact it would makes benefits no one. Why not invest our tax dollars in clean energy like wind, hydro, and solar? The solutions are here, and readily available for utilizing. In our life time have we not learned from centuries of mistakes?
    Please, leave our beautiful land for generations to come.

    Thanks for listening,
    Donna S

  2. Lance Lewis says:

    Excellent! ETSU folks would love to help out. Give us the word, and we’ll try to gather a group and bus up next time!

  3. Kathleen C. Buckley says:

    HAving seen first hand the devastating effects of mountain top removal I am asking that you deny the permit for ISon ROck Ridge surface mine. Allowing this would pollute the waterways, and destroy the environment. IT is time to do away with this disasterous method of mining.
    Thank you for your consideration of my comments.
    Kathleen C. Buckley
    9171 OAK Tree Court
    Frederick MD 21701

  4. Appyminer says:

    Why are you protesting my livelihood. I need to feed my family. If I am not braking the law, why? Should we all be on welfare. Your group embarrasses the region. Take a look at yourselves. Do any of you work.

  5. Jason Hilliard says:

    I have never and never plan to, protest the livelihood of anyone. I admire those who work to feed their families and I appreciate the tenacity of anyone who will face opposition to do what’s right. However the act of MTR in itself is horrific, devestating and 100% immoral. Manipulating gears and levers on a 1,000-ton machine to extract a 5′ seam of coal is NOT mining. I need to feed my family, too, but I do so with the Earth and my children’s future in mind. MTR mining is CAUSING miners to be out of work, not creating jobs as they’d like to have you believe. In order for anyone to properly state their case they need to be educated on both sides of this fight. I’ve read all the books (both against MTR and pro-coal) and I can firmly and proudly say that the fight over coal has nothing to do with jobs and nothing to do with heritage; it has everything to do with environmental stewardship. The Bible asks us to “take care of those who cannot take care of themselves” and this is the case for our fellow humans as well as our mountains. What SAMS is asking is only that you do what’s right.

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