Coal River Makes America’s Most Endangered Rivers List — Again

By Anna Norwood

Coal River in West Virginia has been named one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers for 2012, ranking ninth on watchdog organization American Rivers’ list of the top 10 threatened waterways in the country.

American Rivers cites mountaintop removal coal mining with contaminating Coal River.The report states that, “approximately 20 percent of the river’s watershed is permitted for coal mining, and one-third of that area has already been mined. Over 100 miles of headwater streams have already been buried in the watershed.” Coal River previously ranked sixth on the 2000 endangered rivers list.

A 5,000 acre project has been proposed to level Coal River Mountain, the last remaining mountain untouched by mountaintop removal in the Coal River Valley. According to American Rivers, “Congress must restore Clean Water Act protections to the Coal’s headwater streams in order to prevent more destructive mining and permanently safeguard clean water and public health.”

Two other rivers in Appalachia appeared on the 2012 list. The Chattahoochee River, which runs through Georgia, ranked third, and is threatened by proposals for new dams and reservoirs. The Grand River in Ohio, number six on the list, is listed as being at risk from natural gas development.

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