Front Porch Blog

Virginia Strives for Stream Saver Bill

On February 11, Virginia citizens convene at 4 p.m. to participate in a public hearing on the Stream Saver Bill (S. 564), before the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and National Resources Committee held in Richmond, Va. This is the first time ever Virginia has had a state bill to address mountaintop removal! The Stream Saver bill would stop the burial of headwater streams with strip mining spoil and curtail the destruction of the mountains.

Proponents of the bill are hosting a “A Rally for the Mountains” before the hearing at 3pm at Bell Tower on 101 N 9th St.

According to the Stream Saver Bill, introduced by Senator Patricia Ticer, “No spoil, refuse, silt, slurry, tailings, or other waste materials from coal surface mining and reclamation operations will be disposed of in any intermittent, perennial, or ephemeral stream.”

To learn more read Debra McCown’s article, “Virginia Lawmakers to Consider ‘Stream Saver’ Fill Ban.”
It is not just the waste that raises environmental and human concern over mountaintop removal mining, a practice deemed efficient by the coal industry–a practice that southwest Virginia is no stranger to, particularly in Wise County, Va.

“Environmental and community activists contend that this efficient method of extracting coal is just as efficient at wholesale destruction of the environment, the landscape and the communities,” said Debra McCown in her article, “Coal Mining Practices That Destroy, not Just the Land, but Entire Communities.”

What is left after mountaintop removal? In many cases a devastated landscape and community, as well as streams polluted by the practice.

“It’s not even about what you see; it’s about what you can’t see. The pollution in these headwater streams is the 900-pound gorilla here,” said Matt Wasson, director of programs for Appalachian Voices, in Debra McCown’s article “Is it possible to pick up the pieces and rebuild a mountain?”

As we search for energy solutions, “clean coal” may only serve to exacerbate the problems inflicted by mountaintop removal.

“The term clean coal ignores the consequences of coal mining, particularly the mining practices of mountaintop-removal coal mining,” said Glen Besa, Virginia director for the Sierra Club in Debra McCown’s article “Can the Myth of Clean Coal Become a Reality.” “There’s nothing clean about mountaintop-removal coal mining. It’s devastating.”
If you live in Virginia and can’t make it to the rally or public hearing, click here to write your state representative about Stream Saver Bill (S. 564).

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