Front Porch Blog

Community delivers letter to DMME urging denial of Ison Rock Ridge permit with over 300 signatures.

Encouraging news from our friends in Virginia at Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards:

Kathy Selvage (276) 523-4380, (276) 219-2721
Adam Wells (276) 523-4380, (804) 240-4372

Community delivers letter to DMME urging denial of Ison Rock Ridge permit with over 300 signatures.

Concerned residents delivered a letter addressed to Jackie Davis at the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy office requesting that the Department deny the proposed mountaintop removal permit on Ison Rock Ridge near the town of Appalachia in Wise County, Virginia. The letter, which was accompanied by the signatures of over 300 potentially impacted community members, was based on an earlier EPA directive to the US Army Corps of Engineers to deny the ‘nationwide 21’ permit for surface mining operations on Ison Rock Ridge.

“These signatures represent the overwhelming community opposition to strip mining on Ison Rock Ridge.” Said Larry Bush, retired mine federal mine inspector and chairman of the board for Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards. “These signatures came from our friends and neighbors here in the coal camps”, said Bush.

After presenting their letter to DMME, the group displayed two certificates. One, a “Certificate of Appreciation” the other, a “Certificate of Failure to Protect Communities and Follow Science”. A spokesperson from the group informed DMME that one of the two awards would be given once DMME makes a decision on the pending permit. A ruling from DMME is expected within the next week. It is their hope to award the “Certificate of Appreciation”

Residents of the town of Appalachia, Andover, Inman, Derby and other nearby communities fear that strip mining on Ison Rock Ridge would seriously degrade their quality of life and put their family’s safety at risk. Portions of the proposed permit are within town limits. The EPA’s letter to the Army Corps cites that the cumulative impacts of prior surface mining operations in the Powell River watershed render the ecosystems unable to absorb any more damages from sedimentation and heavy metal run-off.

“The EPA has created a clear mandate.” Said Derby resident Bob Mullins who worked to gather over 100 of the signatures from his neighbors. “ Now it’s DMME’s turn to show that they will follow the science laid out by the EPA and listen to the voices from the community. I hope that DMME will deny this permit.”

The Ison Rock Ridge permit covers nearly 1,300 acres and would destroy three miles of streams and fill nine lush valleys with more than 11 million cubic yards of rock and dirt. The massive mountaintop removal coal mine would surround the community of Derby, bringing destruction within a half mile of the historic district. Other nearby affected communities include Andover, Inman, and Osaka and the Town of Appalachia.

Another letter, also signed by community members, was delivered to the EPA this morning thanking the Agency for taking action to protect the communities threatened by strip mining on Ison Rock Ridge. This letter was delivered at a meeting, hosted by the Power Past Coal project, between the EPA and 6 delegates from across the county representing different stages of the coal ‘life cycle’. This meeting is a part of the final events of the “100 days of action to power past coal”.

Attached is a media advisory for this event as well as both letters from the community.

“What we’re doing today is just one more step to prove to DMME that this permit should not be granted.” Said retired coal miner Pete Ramey, President of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards. “We hope to soon be able to send a thank you letter to DMME like the one delivered today to EPA.”




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