Front Porch Blog

Virginia Rising to Save Our Sacred Places

#Winning

Bolstered by several recent wins in the fight to defeat the 1500MW ODEC coal plant in the Hampton Roads Area, Virginians are stepping up and speaking out to show their support for protecting Virginia ridges from mountaintop removal. Virginia Rising is a coordinated effort from Virginians from the mountains to the Bay, to NoVA, to raise awareness about mountaintop removal and to protect our most important resources – our people.

Recently, hundreds of Virginians and citizens from across the Appalachian region gathered at the EPA headquarters in Washington DC to voice concerns about a proposed mountaintop removal site that would destroy Ison Rock Ridge in Wise County, VA. More than 2,000 residents live in the five surrounding communities would be impacted by this site.

Jane Branham, Wise County resident and Vice-President of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards said:

For more than four years, we have fought to keep this surface mine from moving forward in an effort to protect our homes and our families. The state has given A&G coal company permission to blow up our mountain and poison our streams. We are gathered today to send the EPA the message that we need them to intervene. The risks are too serious.

The 1,200-acre mountaintop removal mine would add to the devastation that southwest Virginia residents have endured from mountaintop removal operations. More than 60 mountains have been permanently destroyed by mountaintop removal in Virginia alone and more than 500 mountains in Appalachia total. Residents have reported extensive damage to the foundations of their homes and private drinking wells from nearby blasting. Dangerous levels of ground and drinking water contamination, noxious dust blanketing entire communities, increased flash flooding, and constant dangerous coal truck traffic are direct results of nearby mountaintop removal operations.

Public health risks connected to mountaintop removal are well-documented. Recent studies link mountaintop removal mining to increased birth defects and cancer rates in counties throughout Appalachia.

Congratulations to all Virginians for your winning streak against big coal, and to learn more about how you can get involved, visit Virginia Rising

Raised on the banks of the Tennessee River, JW's work to create progress in his home state and throughout Appalachia has been featured on the Rachel Maddow Show, The Daily Kos and Grist. He served first as Appalachian Voices’ Legislative Associate and then Tennessee director until leaving to pursue a career in medicine in 2012.


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