Mountaintop Removal in Virginia

Mountaintop removal coal mining at Fork Ridge, Virginia

Appalachian Voices is working to end the abomination of mountaintop removal coal mining on multiple fronts – including passing a law in Congress, forcing action by the White House and federal agencies, advocating in statehouses across the region, and litigating against coal companies. [ Read more about our End Mountaintop Removal campaign. ]

Here in Virginia, we are working on several issues along with the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards in southwest Virginia, the heart of the commonwealth’s coalfields, and others in the Wise Energy for Virginia coalition to end this practice.

Ison Rock Ridge – “Virginia’s Most Endangered Mountain”

A photo showing the proximity of Ison Rock Ridge to the communities below the proposed mining - click for larger image

For nearly six years, Virginians have been fighting to stop a proposed mountaintop removal mine on 1,230 acres on Ison Rock Ridge in Wise County, within just a few miles of several rural communities—Appalachia, Inman, Andover and Derby. Appalachian Voices has been right there with them, helping gather tens of thousands of public comments to pressure the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The proposed mine would bury about 14,000 feet of streams with more than 11 million cubic yards of rock and dirt in nine separate valley fills, posing tremendous harm to the citizens and the environment. In May 2013, the state Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy denied the permit that A&G Coal Co. had sought. Although the company has appealed the decision, local citizens and opponents of mountaintop removal stand ready to continue defending Ison Rock Ridge and the residents of Wise County.

“Preserving our clean mountain water, protecting our productive forests and making this a place businesses want to move to is a key part of building an economy built to last the next 100 years. Stopping the destruction of Ison Rock Ridge is an important first step,” said Sam Broach, president of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, a Wise County-based group of local citizens including former miners.

The Coalfields Expressway

In Virginia, state officials joined with Alpha Natural Resources in 2006 to announce a plan to build a 24-mile section of highway in western Virginia by first strip mining and leaving a flat surface for a highway. The company would get the coal to sell, leaving the public a $2.8 billion bill and a highway that will bring little if any economic value to the region. The proposed Coalfields Expressway would link up with the West Virginia side to complete a 116-mile highway from Pound, Va., to Beckley, W.Va. [ Read more about the Coalfields Expressway ]