This press release about today’s march is posted on behalf of our friends at the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards in Wise County, Va.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hannah Morgan, Sierra Club, 276-494-5686
Judiana Clark, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, 276-523-3094
Local Residents March in Downtown Appalachia to Celebrate Ison Rock Ridge and Protest Mountain’s Pending Demise
Appalachia, VA – Over 50 people marched through downtown Appalachia, calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to deny the proposed surface mine permit for Ison Rock Ridge and keep the ridge standing. People marched with puppets of Ison Rock Ridge, King Coal holding Governor McDonnell and Representative Morgan Griffith, and signs saying “Keep Ison Rock Ridge Standing,” and “Friends of Mountains and Miners,” while musicians played traditional Appalachian tunes.
“The EPA is our last line of defense, here in Appalachia. We support what they have done to date to hold up this permit and we just want them to stick to their guns and stand strong,” said Sam Broach, former miner and president of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards.
The event was kicked off with a rally at 10 a.m. downtown with speakers from SAMS and allied organizations representing 10 different states. After the rally, the group marched through downtown Appalachia with the signs and puppets while chanting “Keep Ison Rock Ridge Standing.” People marched to the Andover Community Center where they celebrated the mountain’s 460 millionth birthday with a fish fry and birthday cake. The party was a celebration that the mountain remains standing, its cultural value preserved and the health of neighboring communities protected for generations to come.
“If this permit is approved, we will only see an increase in the already-devastating health impacts on our people as result of mountaintop removal coal mining,” said Jane Branham, a nurse and vice-president of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards. “Our people are dying from the pollution in the water and air and the EPA is the only agency that is willing to take a stand to protect us.”
Since 2007, the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards and the Sierra Club have been fighting the proposed 1,200-acre surface mine that, if approved, would impact over 1,800 residents with increased blasting, noise, coal dust and water pollution. The EPA has objected to this permit for violating the Clean Water Act and the concerned groups are supporting the EPA’s efforts to protect Appalachian waterways. Participants in the march signed postcards urging the EPA to deny the permit and next week, allies from across the state will also sign postcards and call the EPA’s offices with the same message.
The Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards were joined by allied organizations, Mountain Justice, Heartwood, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and the Sierra Club. Members of these groups came from as far away as Indiana and even Australia to support local organizing efforts that have been rooted in the immediate community.