Front Porch Blog

To the Supporters of Coal River Wind

From our friends at Banner

December 19th, 2008

To the Supporters of Coal River Wind:

We’re writing to give you one last pre-holiday update on the Coal River Mountain Wind campaign. A lot has happened over the past few weeks, highlighted by the release of a landmark “Wind vs MTR” economic study, and we expect that things will pick up even more after the holiday break. So, here’s what’s been going on:

Release of the Coal River Mountain Economic Study

First of all, On December 9th, Downstream Strategies released the results of a 4-month economic study entitled “The Long-Term Economic Benefits of Wind Versus Mountaintop Removal Coal on Coal River Mountain, West Virginia.” The study proves that a 328 Megawatt wind farm represents a far better economic land use option for Coal River Mountain than Mountaintop Removal. Here are some of the report’s findings:

  • According to the report, the wind project would provide more than $1.7 million in annual property taxes to Raleigh County — compared to a paltry $36,000 per year in coal severance taxes from the mining. Put another way, the property tax revenues from the wind farm in a single year would amount to almost triple the total amount of the coal severance taxes the county would receive over the 17-year mine life.
  • When externalities such as public health and environmental quality are factored in, a mountaintop removal mine ends up generating an economic LOSS of $600 million over its expected 17 year life. A wind farm on the other hand would remain profitable over the life of the wind farm. This means that when the true costs of mining are considered, the wind farm option wins hands-down.
  • Mining the mountain could produce nearly 200 direct jobs (and several hundred indirect jobs), but those jobs would last only as long as the coal mining (which is expected to take 17 years). Construction of a windmill operation would generate more than 275 temporary construction jobs, and afterwards create 40 direct (and more than 30 indirect) jobs that could last indefinitely.
  • Over time, the windmill project would generate 28% more jobs than the mountaintop removal mining. (In addition, the wind project could sprout a long-term local industry building wind turbines, towers and blades — leading to three times more jobs than the mountaintop mine.)

— We held two press conferences to publicize the report, and we got some good media on that in West Virginia. Here is a link to Ken Ward’s article on the report and the press events.

— You can also download the Downstream Strategies report from the home page of our website,

— We plan on using the report to lobby the state legislature on a resolution to preserve Coal River Mountain for the development of a wind farm. We’ll keep you updated on that!!

Appeal of the Bee Tree Mining Permit

We’ve also been keeping an eye on the mountain and we wanted to tell you that Massey has yet to begin preparing the site for blasting. However, they can begin any day, and so we’ll continue to check in on the mountain and keep you updated. We last reported that they had received the final approval to begin mining the first section of the Bee Tree permit, and since then we’ve been exploring ways to fight the revision, and we found one.

Just yesterday, with the help of the national Sierra Club and the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, we gave notice to the state Department of Environmental Protection that we are appealing the permit revision to the Surface Mine Board. This won’t stop any mining from going forward unless the board rejects the permit or classifies the revision as “significant,” thus requiring that the DEP open the permit to public comment – which would be the democratic thing to do. So we’ll keep you updated on that as well. For now, read Ken Ward’s article about the appeal here.

So that’s about it, we’ll get back to you in January. We hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday, and once again, we appreciate all of your support.

Sincere Thanks,

— The Coal River Mountain Wind Team —

About Jeff Deal

A lover of Appalachia, renewable energy, local green sustainable economies, and energy efficiency, Jeff is the information technology consultant for Appalachian Voices and also the Senior Project Manager for the Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy.

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