A publication of Appalachian Voices

A publication of Appalachian Voices

Permit to Mine Ison Rock Revoked

In the latest chapter of a six-year battle between A&G Coal Corporation and the citizens of Wise County, Va., the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy denied a 1,200-acre mountaintop removal coal mining permit on Ison Rock Ridge, which would have buried 14,000 feet of streams. The department revoked the permit because of previous violations by the company, unpaid fines and the amount of time lapsed since A&G originally received the permit. A&G formally appealed the decision, but as of press time the DMME had not responded to the appeal.

NC Pushes Duke Energy to Remedy Coal Ash Pollution

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources has added Duke Energy’s Riverbend power plant to an existing lawsuit targeting coal ash pollution in the state. The suit alleges that coal ash ponds at the Riverbend facility have “unpermitted seepage” impacting Mountain Island Lake near Charlotte.

The state claims that contamination from the coal ash ponds poses “a serious danger to the health, safety and welfare of the people of North Carolina and serious harm to the water resources of the state,” and is seeking an injunction to force Duke to remedy any possible contamination. Duke Energy claims it is in compliance with permits and that the seepage does not negatively impact water quality.

Bill to Repeal Renewables Standard Fails to Gain Support

After being blocked in the state House of Representatives, a bill to repeal North Carolina’s renewable energy portfolio standard was passed by the Senate Finance Committee, but remains unlikely to pass a full vote during the current session. The bill’s original sponsor, Rep. Mike Hager, plans to address the future of the state’s renewable mandate during Gov. Pat McCrory’s Blue Ribbon Study Commission, which will host a series of sessions for administration officials and legislators to discuss the renewable energy standard with energy experts. Originally enacted in 2007, North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast that mandates utilities meet a certain percentage of demand with renewables.

Groups Sue to Protect Endangered Fish from Mountaintop Removal

A coalition of environmental groups including the Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club are suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which they claim unlawfully approved two surface mining permits in East Tennessee. The groups claim that outdated research was used to evaluate permits and did not consider the effects of mining pollution on two protected species of fish. Citing the Endangered Species Act, the lawsuit seeks to overturn the mining permits until further review and asks for an injunction to prevent coal companies from dumping mining waste into waterways that harbor the rare fish.

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