Help Larry Gibson surprise his bride-to-be…

Make this years Mountain Keepers festival the most
memorable yet, even if you can’t make it.

Help Larry Gibson surprise his bride
to be with the best wedding gift ever – a composting flush toilet!

Donate now to make this dream his reality



(or send checks to Mountain Justice Summer (“Larry Gibson” in the memo section) at P.O. Box 86 Naoma, WV 25140)


The man: For those of you who have not met this courageous and bold warrior…

Larry Gibson’s family has lived on or near Kayford Mountain since the late
1700’s. More than 300 relatives are buried in the cemetery on Kayford Mountain.
Larry and his family used to live on the lowest lying part of the mountain,
and looked “up” to the mountain peaks that surrounded them. Since
1986, the slow motion destruction of Kayford Mountain has been continuous —
24 hours a day, seven days a week. Eighteen years after the “mountain
top removal” project began, Larry Gibson now occupies the highest point
of land around; he is enveloped by a 12,000 acre pancake in what was previously
a mountain range.

The event: Annual
Mountain Keepers Festival ~ Larry and Carol’s Wedding Celebration!

This year on July 5th and 6th Larry Gibson and family will host their annual
Mountain Keepers Festival atop Kayford mountain. Though an annual event,
this year will be particularly special as we celebrate the impending nuptials
of Larry and his bride to be Carol Kirkpatrick (which will happen in a small
ceremony sometime in early August).

The project: Operation “Secret
Throne”

Larry would love to surprise Carol with a composting flush toilet in a new
addition off of his cabin as a wedding gift and together we can help him
make this happen. With $3000 and help from our volunteer construction crew
we can make this dream his reality.

Please consider making a contribution to this project as a wedding gift to
Larry and Carol today. Donate, forward this to friends or hold an impromptu
fund-raiser – every dollar counts! As a donor or volunteer your name will be
included in the wedding card presented to Larry and Carol at the festival July
5th and 6th.


Thanks for your consideration and hope to see you all at Kayford Mountain
July 5th and 6th!

*** Remember that this is a SURPRISE for Carol so if you have the pleasure
of knowing her please keep this under your hat!

YouTube short of Larry Gibson on Kayford:

To volunteer contact Bob “Sage” Russo of Christians for
the Mountains at: oldtimemountain [at] yahoo.com


MOUNTAIN JUSTICE ACTIVISTS HOLD FOURTH ANNUAL GATHERING

Action Camp equips Appalachian citizens to resist mountaintop removal

Photo by Mary Kroeck, Parson Brown Productions.

Blanton Forest, KENTUCKY – Last week, citizens young and old from
coalfield communities across Appalachia flocked by the dozens to historic
Harlan County, Kentucky, for the fourth annual Mountain Justice Summer
Action Camp. Folks came together to prepare for action, share their
stories, and teach each other important skills in the fight against
mountaintop removal, all while camping out in Kentucky’s beautiful
Blanton Forest. The Action Camp is a full week of events organized
each year by a coalition of civil society groups that have been working
together across state lines for over four years, each member passionately
dedicated to social and environmental justice in the Appalachian region.

2008 marks the first year that coalfield communities in Kentucky
played host to the Action Camp, which is held in a different
part of Southern Appalachia every summer. This year’s camp
clearly showed that the pan-Appalachian movement for Mountain
Justice is growing
in numbers, growing in support, and growing in vision.
People are coming together for a long-term campaign to abolish
mountaintop
removal
and the devastating consequences it has on the land
and the people of Appalachia. The community of folks getting
involved in Mountain
Justice stretches from California to Maine, from Texas
to Florida. The attendance at MJS Camp 2008 proved that
this grassroots movement has taken root not only in the
communities impacted by mountaintop removal but nationally.

Campers from outside Kentucky were made to feel right at home by
the local folks. The banjos and ballads were in no short
supply at the “No Talent” Show where campers discovered the cultural
roots that connect everyone’s histories to the mountains of the region.
According to one camper, “I really feel like this neighborhood
protected us this week.” The families on the 840 loop in Wallins
Creek, Kentucky, can now count themselves among the growing number of communities proud to be known as Mountain Justice folk.


Michael O’Connell’s film, Mountain Top Removal wins Nashville film festival’s Reel Current Award

MOUNTAIN TOP REMOVAL, Michael O’Connell’s revealing look at mountaintop removal mining in West Virginia, has been named the 2008 winner of the Reel Current Award. The winner is chosen and award presented each year by Al Gore to a documentary at NaFF that provides extraordinary insight into a contemporary global issue.

Gore presented the award to Mike on April 18 in a special presentation during the festival.

For more information on the festival: www.nashvillefilmfestival.org

For more information on the film: www.hawriverfilms.com


May 17-23, 2008: Mountain Justice Summer Camp

| Schedule | Flyers | Ride Board |

Note: Registration for camp is now closed.

We have found a great location for our fourth annual Mountain Justice Summer
Camp: Camp Blanton at Blanton Forest, Harlan County, Kentucky, in the heart
of the eastern Kentucky coalfields.

Blanton Forest on Pine Mountain is an old growth forest that has never been logged and features spectacular mountain views and an awesome forest for hiking and exploring. Blanton Forest is a Kentucky State Nature Preserve.

Camp Blanton features a comfortable newly remodeled meeting and dining lodge, a beautiful lake, a wooded amphitheater, tent camping (and rustic cabins with beds or cots for those that are unable to tent camp).

View Camp Blanton’s website: http://www.campblantontrust.com/

With
an emphasis on education, strategy, non-violence and cultural sensitivity the
MJS training camp will provide participants with comprehensive workshops covering
the impacts and politics behind mountain top removal mining and the hands-on
tactical training to take to the mountains and do something about it. Take
this opportunity to share strategies and build relationships that will create
an even stronger network of allies and coalitions organizing resistance to
MTR this summer and beyond!

Folks attending training camp are asked to contribute a minimum of $20
plus $10/night
at time of registration ($100 for the week). This will help tremendously
in planning and purchasing food and supplies and paying for the cost of renting
the facilities for the week. Any additional contributions will allow us to
offer scholarships for those without the funds to attend camp. If there are
any funds remaining after camp they will be used for ongoing campaigns to fight
the destruction of our mountains and communities. Your registration contribution
includes camping, parking, delicious free food and all workshops.

Mountaintop Removal is no joke. This is an important time in a very serious
campaign. Mountain Justice Camp is open to all activists who want to see all
forms of mountaintop removal coal mining and valley fills abolished and who
are willing to abide by our Mountain Justice policies of non-violent direct
action. Although we often joke that we will “win” because we have
more fun (and we will!) many fruits will be born of our hard labor, our ability
to focus, and our tendency to come together as community to get things done.
Please know that as we hope there will be much music/merry making and you will
be fed for the duration of the camp, opportunities to learn and share skills
will be abundant and we expect each participant to be just that – a participant,
with an emphasis on fully participating in workshops, discussions, and at least
two community volunteer shifts (kitchen, clean up, etc.). We rock because we
work and play together.


HELP
SPREAD THE WORD!

Download and print a MJS 2008 Training Camp flyer.

View photos from MJS camp 2007…
View photos from the MJS organizers’
meeting at Camp Blanton (1/18 – 1/20/2008)…

For more information about Mountain Justice Camp, to volunteer or to help make it happen, please email davecooper928 at yahoo.com.


May 9-10, 2008: Jam down at the Bank!

A coordinated Day of Mountain Music Action against the Banks that fund
coal.

Bank of America and Citi are the biggest funders of the coal industry.
Continued dependence on coal as an energy source means dirtier
air and water, more global warming and the all-out destruction
of Appalachian communities and ecosystems by Mountain Top
Removal (MTR) coal
mining.
MTR is a form of strip-mining for coal by which up to 1,000
vertical feet are blasted off the tops of mountains and dumped
into the valleys
below. The process has already destroyed 800 square miles
of mountains and 1,200 miles of streams in Virginia, West
Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Recently as Bank of America and Citi continue to fund the destruction
of Appalachia, Action Jackson, a string band from East Tennessee
has brought bluegrass and old-time jams into bank branches
across the south
in protest of the banks’ investments in coal. Now Mountain
Justice is asking for musicians and others to join Action
Jackson in a great big
jam down at the bank on Friday May 9th and Saturday May 10th.
Where will this jam be held? At any Bank of America or Citi
location near you. You
don’t play Appalachian music? Well a boom-box and a CD playing
any kind of music will be just fine. Half-sheet handouts
detailing BoA and
Citi’s crimes as well as other campaign materials can be
found on Rainforest
Action Network’s website
.


Action ideas:

  1. Take the jam into the bank. Some folks play music while others hand
    out flyers and hold signs. Be sure to communicate clearly
    that your protest does not take issue with the employees
    or the account-holders but rather
    with corporate management responsible for the bank’s investment
    policies. Doing so has been a great way for Mountain Justice
    activists to have
    constructive conversations with these folks during past
    actions
    . Bank management and or law enforcement will probably
    ask you to leave.
    It’s
    a good idea to leave when asked so as to avoid arrest and
    if you want, you can resume the protest at a public space
    outside.
  2. Don’t go in. Just jam outside, hold signs and
    hand out flyers. If you’re on bank property then you’ll
    still probably get asked to leave –
    but again you should be able to continue your protest in
    a public space nearby.
  3. Fly below the radar. Leave the
    signs, the music and the mass of protesters at home.
    Hang out outside the bank. Where nice professional clothes if
    you’ve got some. Hand out the half-page fact sheets available
    on RAN’s website. Try to give them only to folks leaving
    the bank if possible
    so that no one alerts management of your presence. If you manage to do this for however long you’d like without anyone from the bank confronting you about it, then let them know you’ve been doing it before
    you leave. It’s great that you’ll have educated so many
    account-holders about the
    issue, but it’s also best that branch management knows
    they’ve been protested. The best tactic is one that both expands
    your constituency and applies
    direct pressure to your target.

In either of these action scenarios, live music is more fun and more
festive but a boombox is certainly sufficient. A boombox plus a megaphone
will even get your message heard from outside and across the street.
Any action identifying itself as Mountain Justice should fall within
the campaign’s non-violent and no-property-destruction framework.

Let Mountain Justice know you’ve done an action.
Please email us an action report after you’ve done your action.
There’s no need for us to know beforehand but we would like to post info
and photos on the actions page of the MJS website.

You can send action
reports to [email protected].


Help Support Clean Energy: Sign the Mile Long Petition

Wise County has seen more mountaintop removal and other harmful methods of strip mining than any other county in Appalachia, except one. Almost 60,000 acre – a quarter of the entire county – has already been strip mined. At the same time such an enormous wealth is being extracted from Wise and other Virginia coal counties, they remain among the poorest counties in Virginia.

Now Dominion Energy has proposed building a dirty coal-fired power plant in Wise County, Virginia that will pollute the air and water, further destroy our mountains, and contribute to global warming.

Citizen’s of Southwest Virginia are standing up for their mountains and communities by leading a grassroots campaign to defeat the plant. They have been joined by allies across Appalachia and will deliver a mile long petition, 50,000 strong, to Dominion and Governor Kaine, on May 8th in Richmond.

The petition calls on Dominion to stop building coal fired power plants like this one proposed for Wise County, and to dedicate its resources towards developing a clean energy economy for Virginia focused on energy efficiency, conservation, renewable energy and economic prosperity.

Sign the petition now and find out how you can help!


Dec 3, 2007: KY State Legislators Tour Devastation of Mountaintop Removal

More than a dozen state legislators came to Hazard, Kentucky on December 3 to view mountaintop removal sites and hear testimony from Eastern Kentuckians about this form of coal-mining. The media was out in full force, as well. As recently as a year ago it seemed impossible to ever get this many politicians to listen to those who were against mountaintop removal, so this was an important day in the fight against mountaintop removal and was a well-organized event set up by Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

Silas House delivered the following testimony at the gathering:

I want to offer my thanks to Chairman Moberly and all the members of the A&R Committee, and to all of you for taking the time to come and listen to us. I have been actively involved in the fight against mountaintop removal for three years now and during that time one of the main things that I wanted was for our representatives to listen to us, to see for themselves the devastation of mountaintop removal with their own eyes. So I offer you my genuine and deep gratitude.

Like many others across Kentucky , I have a complicated history with coal. It has marked my family just like it has marked the land. My family was able to rise up out of poverty in large part due to jobs provided by the coal industry. My mother is proud to call herself a coal miner’s daughter. My uncles are proud of the many hours they spent underground, on strip jobs, and driving coal out of these mountains. My grandfather lost his leg in a cave-in at a Leslie County mine, never losing consciousnesses until the doctors at the Hazard hospital knocked him out. He recuperated for six months and then promptly went back into the mines, where he worked for twenty more years. My people are proud of their coal mining heritage, of the hard work they have done in these mountains. None of them got rich from working in the mines, but they were able to make a living, and that was all they were asking for.

I am proud to come from a people who helped to build this nation.

But I also saw another side of coal. I was raised across the road from a sprawling strip mine. For three solid years everyone in my community breathed the dust and grime, put up with the constant blasting, heard the groan of dozers. We watched as the coal company’s overloaded trucks destroyed our road and when we complained we were told that our taxes would pay to fix the holes. When the company pulled out they scattered some grass seed that never took, planted a few scrub pines, and left, never looking back. Twenty-some years later, that land is still struggling. Some of it is out-right dead.

Looking back, I learned a lot of lessons from this experience. Although people in our community complained, they were mostly met with silence. The handful who did get their phone calls returned were given the runaround by their government. We were told that it was our duty to the region, something we had to put up with to support the economy. We were told that complaining about it would cost other people just like us their jobs.

Everybody in my community worked like dogs, raised their children the best they could, stood in line on every election day. Yet it seemed that no one cared about them. They were a forgotten people. An invisible people.

I developed complicated feelings about the coal industry from these very different experiences. Mostly, I fell in line with other family members, usually justifying the actions of the coal company by reminding myself that we had to support the economy, that Eastern Kentucky couldn’t make it without coal. This is what I had been taught. This is what the companies had brainwashed us to believe to keep us from questioning them.

And then, I went up in an airplane, just as you’ll be able to do eventually. And at the risk of sounding over dramatic, I have never been the same since. I couldn’t believe that such disrespect could be done to the land, to the people, to my heritage.

My convictions only thickened when I heard stories from the people. And I educated myself, researching both sides of the argument, which led me to the conclusion that mountaintop removal is wasteful and disrespectful. That it takes jobs away from the region instead of supplying them. That it epitomizes everything that is wrong with big business: corporations putting their bottom line before their ethical responsibility. Mountaintop removal is a case study in greed, in taking from the community without giving back, in instant gratification.

We are at a crossroads here in Kentucky . This issue will prove to be a defining moment for us. We live in a world where our children have very few people to look up to. We live in a society where money is valued more than integrity or respect, or just about anything, to be quite honest. We need heroes. And this is your chance to be someone who stands up for something important, to stand up and say, “This might not be the most popular thing to do, but I’m going to do it anyway because it’s right.”

In times when people feel invisible to their leaders, they often turn to the

artists in their community. That’s why so many writers and musicians and photographers and other kinds of artists have become so active in the fight against mountaintop removal: because the people have asked us to. I can’t tell you how many people have written to me to thank me for standing up and saying that mountaintop removal is wrong, for speaking out for what I believe in. I also can’t tell you how many people have written me nasty letters, or have cussed me out, or have refused to speak to me at family gatherings.

For the last three years I have heard the testimonies of more than four dozen Eastern Kentuckians who are living with mountaintop removal in one way or another. And every single one of them always finishes by saying: “Tell my story.” After the very first person said that to me, that became my responsibility. There was no turning back.

Their voices became the burdens of all the artists fighting mountaintop removal. We felt a moral obligation to tell their stories, to be their voices, to make the invisible visible. But, as artists, we can only do so much.

As our elected representatives, these stories and everything you see today now becomes your burden. By virtue of your constitutional authority, each of you has the ability to truly change people’s lives by standing up for your constituents – whether you represent Eastern Kentucky or Western Kentucky or Lexington or Louisville – and saying that they deserve better. That they deserve to be seen and heard. That their land and woods and water and roads deserve respect and protection.

That mountaintop removal is wrong.

That our brothers and sisters living in the shadow of this awful practice are no longer invisible to their leaders.

I know what it’s like to feel invisible. I felt invisible the time I was far away from home and somebody called me “a stupid hillbilly.” I felt invisible when an editor at a major New York magazine told me a joke about “incestuous Kentuckians”. I felt invisible when I overheard a woman in a not-far-away city make fun of the way my mother talked. I felt invisible when I was giving a speech on mountaintop removal in New York and someone stood up and asked if the reason my people were allowing such a thing to take place was because they were so ignorant.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. Our region is invisible every time one of our politicians blames our water pollution mainly on straight pipes, thereby suggesting that pollution is the fault of Eastern Kentuckians and not the coal industry. We felt invisible when the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee said that he had heard no public outcry against mountaintop removal from the people of Eastern Kentucky, even though we had marched and lobbied in Frankfort and given speeches and sung songs and spoken at community meetings and written to the paper and begged him to help us.

We are entire state of people who feel powerless and unseen by our leaders. And so I thank you for making us feel visible today, for seeing us.

When you are able to do that flyover, I hope you will see what lies below you with open eyes and an open heart. See all those trailers and houses that sit just at the edge of those sites. Think about how it would feel if you didn’t have any other choice but to live next to such a thing. And think about the people who live there, about the children and the babies and the men and women who work hard and just want to come home and enjoy their little spot of land on this earth. People who have had joys and sorrows and hopes and dreams, who are just trying to do the best they can, to get through the day without hurting anyone. People who are now looking to you to do the right thing.

Look down at the roads and think how we’ve paid for them over because of corporation coal companies overloading the coal trucks. Realize that those creeks and rivers below you carry the remnants of mountaintop removal to people all over this state and this country.

This is a chance to show our fellows Americans that the stereotype is wrong: that Kentuckians are not ignorant, that we’re not the sacrificial lambs for big business anymore, that we have elected politicians of integrity who are going to stand up for us.

I’m not asking you to ban coal mining. All I’m asking is for you to see the problems that mountaintop removal is causing, to see how it’s a sacrilege to the land, to stand up and say, “Now listen, we can mine coal, but we’ve got to do it with some integrity, with some respect, with some compassion for the land and our people.” To vote for more regulations and then to make sure that those restrictions are enforced. To follow the leadership of Representative Don Pasley and support the Streamsaver Bill when it is introduced next legislature session. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue. It is an issue of being informed, of having the courage to do what’s right.

Andrew Jackson once said that “one man with courage makes a majority.”

You have this golden opportunity to make the invisible seeable, to make the unheard audible. Most of you went into public service because you wanted to do something important, because you wanted to change things, because you wanted to make a difference. These mountains are offering you the perfect opportunity. You’ve listened to all of us today, you’re about to see the devastation done to the land. So now, it’s up to you. We’re depending on you. And we thank you.

Silas House is a respected KY author (Clays Quilt, The Coal Tattoo)


WAR DECLARED ON THE APPALACHIAN PEOPLE

Stream Buffer Zone Public Hearing Testimony

Tennessee, October 24, 2007
Video provided by SOCM.


(excerpts from OHVEC Action Alert 9/7/07)

Bush Wants To Change Buffer Zone Rule: Nationwide Push for Comments
The Bush administration’s latest attempt to legalize illegal mountaintop removal practices has stirred up cries of outrage across the nation.

What is up? The Bush administration’s Office of Surface Mining (OSM) wants to quit requiring coal operators to prove that their mountaintop removal operations will not damage streams, fish and wildlife. They want to gut the stream buffer zone rule, which says land within 100 feet of a stream cannot be disturbed by mining unless a company can prove it will not affect the water’s quality and quantity.

This rule was at the heart of major West Virginia litigation challenging mountaintop removal in the late 1990s. If the changes the Bush administration proposes are finalized, then the illegal becomes legal. State and federal “regulatory” agencies have basically overlooked the rule and allowed valley fills in perennial and intermittent streams. Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment and other lawyers for citizen groups continue to interpret the rule as banning those fills, and federal judges have agreed with us.

The proposed rule change would say the buffer zone rule does not apply to burying streams with the rubble from former mountaintops. That is, the rule doesn’t apply to valley fills and even coal sludge dams and impoundments.

By 4:30 p.m. EST, Friday, November 23, 2007*: Please call, write or email the Office of Surface Mining.

Tell them:

  • Pull the proposed buffer zone rule change and enforce the law now on the books.

For written comments, write to:
Important— in all communication please note the docket number: RIN 1029-AC04

OSMRE
Administrative Record
Room 252 SIB
1951 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20240

For online comments:

http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&d=OSM-2007-0007-0001.

*Updated


Call Your Congressperson
Ask her or him to please contact the Office of Surface Mining to say:
–Pull the proposed buffer zone rule change and enforce the law now on the books.


Prepared by: The Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment (appalachian-center.org), Earthjustice (earthjustice.org) and Public Justice (publicjustice.net)

Oppose Effort by the Bush Administration to Blow Up Mountains and Destroy Streams in Appalachia

Introduction:

On August 24, 2007, the Bush administration proposed repealing another longstanding environmental protection law in order to allow the coal mining industry to engage in “mountaintop removal” mining. In mountaintop removal mining, coal companies actually blow up entire mountaintops and dump millions of tons of waste into nearby streams, burying them forever. This parting gift from the administration to its coal industry friends will allow coal companies to continue their assault on the forests, streams and communities of Appalachia.

The Bush administration has already relaxed Clean Water Act safeguards that protected Appalachian mountain streams from mountaintop removal mines. Now, the administration is targeting a Reagan-era rule known as the “buffer zone rule” that prohibits coal-mining activities from disturbing areas within 100 feet of streams. If the new Bush rule goes forward, coal companies will be allowed to dump massive amounts of waste directly into streams, destroying them completely. Already, nearly 2000 miles of mountain streams in Appalachia have been buried by mountaintop removal waste, wiping out these streams and causing flooding and destruction in the surrounding communities. The Bush administration’s failure to enforce the buffer zone law led to an additional 535 miles of stream impacts nationwide during between 2001 and 2005. Thus, the repeal of the buffer zone rule allows more than 1,000 miles of streams to be destroyed each decade into the future. Permanently destroying thousands of miles of mountain streams is more than irresponsible; it is insane.

The Bush administration prepared a draft environmental impact study (DEIS) on the elimination of buffer zone protections. The DEIS is required by federal law to analyze alternatives to repealing the buffer zone rule rule. Remarkably, the administration failed to even consider leaving in place and enforcing the existing rule in its alternatives analysis.

You can view the proposal at: http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&d=OSM-2007-0007-0001

Talking points for comments to the agency:

  • The Bush administration is relentlessly pursuing anti-environmental policies to allow coal companies to continue to bury thousands of miles of streams in Appalachia under enormous piles of rubble created by mountaintop removal coal mining.
  • Mountaintop removal mining takes place in states in the Appalachian region, including West Virginia, Kentucky, southern Virginia and Tennessee.
  • In this destructive process, entire peaks, mountaintops and ridges are literally blown off in order to reach the coal seams that lie underneath.
  • The resulting millions of tons of waste rock, dirt, and vegetation are then dumped into the neighboring valleys and streams.
  • These valley fills bury streams and aquatic habitat under piles of rubble hundreds of feet high, destroying the entire surrounding ecosystem and disrupting nearby communities.
  • Rather than enforce the law against this kind of destruction, the Bush administration is repealing protections like the buffer zone rule.
  • The proposed rule changes would eviscerate stream protections that have been in effect for over two decades.
  • Lapses in the enforcement of the buffer zone rule, which prohibits coal-mining activities from disrupting areas within 100 feet of streams unless those activities in no way impact water quality or quantity, have allowed significantly more than the reported 1200 miles of streams to be buried or degraded by mining waste.
  • If the new Bush rule goes forward, coal companies will be allowed to dump massive amounts of waste directly into streams, destroying them completely.
  • According to the U.S. Office of Surface Mining’s (OSM) own figures, 1,208 miles of streams in Appalachia were destroyed from 1992 to 2002, and regulators approved 1,603 more valley fills between 2001 and 2005 that will destroy 535 more miles of streams.
  • Thus, the repeal of the buffer zone rule would allow more than 1,000 miles of streams to be destroyed each decade into the future.
  • Those actions were taken in defiance of the plain language of the existing rule.
  • Under the plan announced last week, OSM proposes to change the rule to conform to its deviant behavior rather than requiring the coal industry to comply with the law.
  • It would exempt from the stream buffer zone rule those very mountaintop removal activities that are most destructive to streams, including “permanent excess spoil fills, and coal waste disposal facilities” — in other words, giant valley fills and sludge-filled lagoons.
  • OSM impermissibly failed to consider retaining the current buffer zone rule that restricts the dumping of mining waste in all streams, effectively limiting mountaintop removal coal mining.
  • At a minimum the proposed stream buffer zone rule should be withdrawn and the existing buffer zone rule should be enforced so that intermittent and perennial streams are fully protected.
  • OSM must honestly assess the cumulative impacts of mountaintop removal. OSM says the impacts from the rule change will be insignificant but ignores the cumulative impacts of mountaintop removal and other mining in central Appalachia.
  • OSM justifies this conclusion by illogically relying on mitigation to offset the harm caused by the filling of streams while also admitting that mitigation generally doesn’t work.

Sample comments to the agency:

RE: Excess Spoil, Coal Mine Waste, and Buffers for Waters of the United States: Docket Number RIN 1029–AC04

I am opposed to any attempt to weaken or eliminate the stream buffer zone rule that has protected streams from coal mining activities for nearly 25 years. The buffer zone rule is an important protection for coal mining regions that prohibits coal-mining activities from disrupting areas within 100 feet of streams unless those activities in no way impact water quality or quantity. The changes to this rule proposed by the Bush administration would eliminate these important protections for streams and allow Mountaintop Removal coal mining companies to further bury, destroy and degrade waters in the Appalachian region with their waste.

The Bush administration should withdraw this attempt to weaken stream protections and, instead, leave the existing stream buffer zone rule in place.

According to the administration’s own studies on mountaintop removal coal mining, the immediate and long-term environmental impacts of this form of coal mining are severe and irreversible. Lapses in the enforcement of the buffer zone rule have allowed almost 2000 miles of streams to be buried or degraded by mining waste.

The Bush administration released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on August 24 to go along with the proposed rule change. That study was supposed to examine the environmental effects of alternatives to repealing the buffer zone rule, which prohibits valley fills and sludge ponds from burying and destroying streams. Yet, incredibly, the EIS did not even study the option of enforcing the buffer zone rule as currently written. This fact alone proves the administration never considered enforcing the law, but only wants to repeal it, regardless of the facts about the harm that will result.

The proposed rule changes would repeal stream safeguards that have been in effect for over two decades. The result, using the administration’s own figures, will be that more than 1000 miles of streams will be destroyed every decade into the future, sapping the lifeblood of an entire region.

The administration should not go forward with any rulemaking that would weaken existing laws like the buffer zone rule that protect our vital natural resources from Mountaintop Removal coal mining. Instead, it should rely on sound science and enforce the rules as they are currently written, as this is the best way to safeguard streams from the destructive effects of Mountaintop Removal mining.

Background information:

The Buffer Zone Rule: A 1983 rule which prohibits coal mining activities from disturbing areas within a 100-foot “buffer” of an intermittent or perennial stream. The buffer zone rule states that coal mining activities cannot disturb these sensitive areas unless water quality and quantity will not be adversely impacted.

Bush’s ‘No Buffer’ Rule: The Bush proposal essentially repeals this important regulation and would allow coal companies to permanently bury Appalachian streams beneath hundreds of millions of tons of mining waste. This proposal takes the “buffer” right out of the “buffer zone” rule and allows coal companies to dump waste directly into streams.

Mountaintop Removal Mining: Mountaintop removal mining takes place in states in the Appalachian region, including West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. In this destructive process, entire peaks, hillsides and mountaintops are literally blown off in order to reach the coal seams that lie underneath. The resulting millions of tons of waste rock, dirt, and vegetation are then dumped into the neighboring valleys and streams. These valley fills bury streams and aquatic habitat under piles of rubble hundreds of feet high, destroying the entire surrounding ecosystem and disrupting nearby communities. Surface mining has destroyed more than one million acres of Appalachian forests, the most productive and diverse temperate hardwood forests in the world. Rather than enforce the law against this kind of destruction, the Bush administration is repealing protections like the buffer zone rule.

This Sounds Familiar:

The Bush administration is relentlessly pursuing anti-environmental policies to allow coal companies to continue to bury hundreds of miles of streams in Appalachia under enormous piles of rubble created by Mountaintop Removal coal mining.

In May 2002, the Bush administration eliminated a 25-year-old Clean Water Act regulation that prohibited the Army Corps of Engineers from allowing industrial wastes to bury and destroy U.S. waters. Then, one year later, the administration released a draft Environmental Impact Statement detailing the harm caused by this practice, including:

  • Nearly 2000 miles of streams have been damaged or destroyed by mountaintop removal
  • Case studies demonstrate that direct impacts to streams may be greatly lessened by reducing the size of the valley fills where mining wastes are dumped
  • When past, present and future areas that have been or will be affected are added together, the estimated area of forest impacts is 1.4 million acres
  • Forest loss in West Virginia alone has the potential of directly impacting as many as 244 vertebrate wildlife species
  • Without additional limits, an additional 350 square miles of mountains, streams, and forests will be flattened and destroyed by mountaintop removal.

Despite these findings, the administration recommended easing the permitting process to allow even more destruction. The most significant weakening of existing standards they are pursuing is the evisceration of the Buffer Zone rule.

Speak Out against the Bush Rule:

Send written comments by November 23, 2007 to:

Identify communication by Docket number RIN 1029-AC04.
You can use the federal rule-making portal at http://www.regulations.gov. The rule is listed under the agency name of OSM
By mail/hand delivery or courier: OSMRE, Administrative Record, Room 252 SIB, 1951 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20240. Please identify comments by RIN 1029-AC04.


Nov 16-17, 2007: Day of Action Against Bank of America and Citi’s Coal Investments

November 16-17, 2007
100 Actions in 24 Hours
Noon until Noon; Multiple Actions Encouraged!

Join Rainforest Action Network, Coal River Mountain Watch, Appalachian Voices, Mountain Justice and a cast of thousands as we mobilize to stop Bank of America and Citi’s investments in the coal industry!

Sign Up Here >> http://community.ran.org/node/333

WHAT: 100 Actions in 24 Hours Against Bank of America and Citi’s Coal Investments
WHERE: Your Town USA
WHEN: November 16-17, 2007 Noon until Noon
CONTACT: Scott at [email protected] or 1-800-989-RAIN
INFO: www.dirtymoney.org
SIGN UP FOR AN ACTION: http://community.ran.org/node/333

Why are Bank of America and Citi so bad?

  • ACCELERATING CLIMATE CHANGE
    The Bush-Cheney Energy Plan has put over 150 new coal-fired power plants on the drawing board. Bank of America and Citi have financed billions of dollars supporting dozens of these new coal-fired power plants. If these proposed plants are built, 600 million tons of additional C02 will be emitted annually – negating all over efforts to curb climate change. In 2006, Citi was the top underwriter for the coal industry with twice the amount of coal money issued as its closest competitor. Citi arranged a $37 billion loan for the buyout of top Texas polluter TXU, which faced massive opposition from a coalition of environmental and community groups, as well as from over a dozen Texas mayors for its proposal to build nearly a dozen new coal-fired power plants.
  • DESTROYING APPALACHIA’S MOUNTAINS
    Both banks are funding companies that are responsible for mountaintop removal. Mountaintop removal is the highly destructive mining process that literally explodes the tops off of mountains. It has led to the loss of thousands of square miles of Appalachian forests and mountains and the devastation of Appalachian communities, and yet they continue to bankroll this destruction. Bank of America and Citi have financed billions of dollars to companies that practice mountaintop removal, including Massey Energy, Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources and many more.
  • VIOLATING HUMAN RIGHTS
    Both Citi and Bank of America have funneled billions to Peabody Energy, the largest coal mining company in the world. For 40 years, Navajo and Hopi communities in Arizona have been ravaged by Peabody Energy’s Black Mesa mine, which affects the land rights of thousands of families, drains 2.5 million gallons daily from the only community water supply and has left a toxic legacy along a 273-mile coal slurry pipeline.
  • BOTH ARE LEADING FINANCIERS OF DIRTY ENERGY
    Citi is a top financier to the energy industry – underwriting over $38 billion dollars in 2006. And the company’s stated commitment to clean energy? Citi was the underwriter for one single transaction for alternative energy in 2006, financing 200 times as much money for dirty energy as they did for alternative energy. In 2006, Bank of America spent nearly 100 times as much money on dirty energy as for clean energy. With $1.5 trillion in assets, their new climate pledge of $20 billion over 10 years commits less than 0.2% of their assets per year to this cause.

    • Join us on Friday, November 16, and Saturday, November 17, in front of your local Bank of America and Citi branches, offices and ATMs.
    • Sign up now at http://community.ran.org/node/333. We’ll have a couple of conference calls for check-in as we get close to the date.
    • We are happy to be able to provide grassroots activists with even more trainings and resources than ever before. It couldn’t be easier or more important for you to get involved in your community today!!
    • To get involved, you can download a package at www.dirtymoney.org or contact [email protected]
    • To participate in the day of action contact Scott at [email protected] or 1-800-989-RAIN. Sign up so that we (Coal River Mountain Watch, Rainforest Action Network, Mountain Justice and Appalachian Voices) can support you. We can send you banners and flyers, as well as help you brainstorm potential actions.

It’s time to take to the streets and send Bank of America and Citi a message that grassroots movements against coal extraction, processing and combustion demand an end to coal financing – Coal is Over. Fund the Future!