Front Porch Blog

Temporary Reprieve for Virginia Residents, Mountains

For Immediate Release: August 27th, 2009

Contacts: Adam Wells, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, 276.523.4380, 804 240 4372

Oliver Bernstein, Sierra Club, 512.477.2152

Temporary Reprieve for Virginia Residents, Mountains

Amid Growing Community and Environmental Concerns, DMME to Request More Information on Ison Rock Ridge While Scrutiny on Federal Level Continues.

Big Stone Gap, Virginia – The Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy (DMME) issued a letter late Wednesday once again requesting more information from A&G Coal Company on their controversial Ison Rock Ridge mountaintop removal mine proposed for Wise County, Virginia. The move is a reprieve for the communities, mountains and streams nearby.

Among the concerns outlined in the letter were questions about how the mine plans to proceed in the absence of a required approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and about how the mine will deal with the proposed discharge of pollutants into already polluted streams.

Despite overwhelming local opposition, a growing national movement opposing mountaintop removal mining, and heightened scrutiny from the Obama Administration, A&G has continued to seek to destroy Ison Rock Ridge via mountaintop removal coal mining. The permit, if approved, would decimate over 1200 acres of lush Appalachian hardwood forest and imperil hundreds of people living directly adjacent to the permit boundary.

Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS) along with the Sierra Club have been fighting the permit application for more than two years. “This is encouraging,” said SAMS board member and retired underground miner Bob Mullins, whose back yard abuts the permit boundary. “People living in the shadow of this mine understand just how dangerous things could get. My whole community’s future is at stake here.”

DMME’s action yesterday is further indication that the mine application is in an excessively dangerous and irresponsible location. In addition to being literally in the backyards of residents, the proposed mine would also drain waste-water into the already impaired Callahan Creek. DMME had most recently requested more information from the permit applicant in a letter dated May 8, 2009. The permit application is currently on its ninth revision.

“This is a welcome temporary reprieve for the people of Wise County, but the threat of this enormous mine requires permanent protection for the communities, streams and mountains,” said Pete Ramey, President of SAMS.






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