Six-year-old Levi Marney was the first to speak out against the proposed Doe Branch mountaintop removal coal mine near Haysi, Va., at a public meeting on Nov. 7.
“God gave us the water so we can stay clean, and so we can drink it,” he said. “I don’t want poison in the water.”
Appalachian Voices was proud to stand beside him and the other community members who attended the meeting and addressed their concerns about the mine to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.
The 1,100-acre surface mine is proposed by Contura Energy, a new mining company that was formed when Alpha Natural Resources emerged from bankruptcy, and threatens to discharge sediment and other mining-related pollutants into the Russell Prater Creek.
This meeting focused on a potential renewal of the operation’s water pollution discharge permit.
These permits allow facilities such as the proposed mine to legally release specific amounts of various pollutants into public waterways like the Russell Prater Creek and the Russell Fork River.
The state approved the initial discharge permit for the Doe Branch mine back in 2012. But, as several individuals in attendance pointed out, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has maintained an objection to the project from its outset.
The Doe Branch Mine has already received the other permits it needs. The EPA objection is one of the only things currently preventing the mine from moving forward.
“Many members of our family are in coal mining, but we know the future of Dickenson County is in tourism, and it’s in taking care of our environment better than we have in the past,” said Gail Marney, Levi’s grandmother.