Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Terror of Mountain Top Removal

From our friends at Coal River Mountain Watch ...

On March 26, about a dozen McDowell County residents and supporters from Coal River Mountain Watch, OVEC, and Appalachian Voices told the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection that they did NOT want another Jim Justice mountaintop removal operation in their community.  Annette Brichford, former director of Catholic Charities in McDowell County, shared her experience with another Jim Justice operation: "Our daycare staff had to wipe coal dust from the kids' eyes after they played outdoors. When they blew their noses, it came out black. We had to hose down the dust from the playground equipment every day... I fear the same thing for the children of Endwell Head Start if another Jim Justice mountaintop removal site is permitted."

Al Justice, Coal River Mountain Watch member and founder of Dry Fork Watershed Mountain Watch, said, "You're robbing our future economic development.  Where's the economic development that was supposed to come with the existing permits? You know it's criminal. You know it's wrong."

Other residents, including retired coal miners, spoke of their concerns about increased flooding from having so many mountaintop removal sites together, and about the deadly health impacts from mountaintop removal, such as the demonstrated links to increased cancer.

Dr. McCawley speaks about health impacts of ultrafine particulates near mountaintop removal sites
On March 28, Dr. Michael McCawley, Chair of the Dept. of Occupational and Environmental Health at WV University, addressed a crowd of Charleston area residents. His research has found "smoking gun" elevated levels of ultrafine particulates near mountaintop removal sites. 
Some key points:
-Ultrafine dust is so small that it can easily penetrate cell membranes, including into the unborn.
-Ultrafine dust is already associated with some of the illnesses that are elevated near mountaintop removal, such as cancer.
-Clouds of the stuff can travel for miles without dissipating. Charleston is vulnerable to ultrafine dust from nearby mountaintop removal sites such as the KD#2 site.
-There is presently no regulation of ultrafine dust and its health effects on the public. Existing Clean Air Act protections in some places do not address this threat.

What can you do about this public health threat? Call and email your US congressional representatives and urge them to support the Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act (ACHE Act), H.R. 912. You can find their contact information, details about the ACHE Act, and links to health studies here

And continue calling Gov. Tomblin at (888) 438-2731(888) 438-2731 FREE to tell him that, until his WV Dept. of Environmental Protection understands the health consequences of the permits that they are granting, they have no business granting any more permits. They can start by withholding the Jim Justice permit, number S400511, within a half mile of Endwell Head Start.

Are you, or do you know, a coal miner who has been laid off?
If so, please note this opportunity for financial support and retraining here. The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded a $7.4 million National Emergency Grant (NEG) to WorkForce West Virginia to provide retraining and reemployment services to dislocated coal miners and displaced homemakers impacted by mass layoffs and coal mine closures. There is an informational meeting April 10, 10 AM -2 PM, Southern WV Community and Technical College, Mt. Gay, Logan County.

Thank you for all your support! Words of encouragement mean a lot to us. So does your financial support at our new donation page. This is one way that we're trying out new ways to engage our friends. Another is a new donation button on our Facebook page here. Please try it out and let us know what you think.

Have a joyous Easter and Passover, and celebrate life as spring blooms all around us!

Vernon Haltom
Executive director, Coal River Mountain Watch