Bill to Ban Surface Mining in TN!


If you love mountains please contact the Governor of Tennessee! [email protected]. (other contacts)


The tide is turning! This is it. We can kill strip mining for coal in Tennessee for good with your help. This is for all the marbles. In the last year the entire tone of the campaign against strip mining has shifted, the strip mine companies are on the defensive. Now its time for a knock out punch.

A bill was recently written with help from United Mountain Defense which out and out bans strip mining for coal in the State of Tennessee no “ifs”, “ands” or “buts”–a flat out abolishment of the practice known as strip mining for coal. We are not asking for less strip mining, or kinder gentler strip mining–we are demanding the permanent abolishment of this horrendous attack on Tennessee’s jobs, environment and culture.

If you don’t know what strip mining is doing to the Appalachians you are fortunate. It is an ongoing ecological, social and cultural disaster of literally geologic proportions. Entire mountains are being blown up, highland watersheds are being buried forever and the most diverse habitat in the world is being destroyed for short term greed. (

This bill was passed by the Tennessee Student legislature–and now is being passed to Governor Bredesens desk. After a week or so there, it will be introduced and debated by the Tennessee General Assembly. If it becomes law all strip mining for coal in the state of Tennessee will be forbidden by statute.

Needless to say, we need your help now more than ever. We need folks to call, email, write, fax, talk to, petition, fly planes with banners–in every way possible to contact Governor Bredesen and to express support for this bill.

Please be polite! Governor Bredesen has sent clear signals that he is not happy with the strip mining for coal happening in our fair state, as has our general assembly. This is about numbers of supporters for this bill, it is not an adversarial approach.

After the bill leaves Bredesens desk it will goto the general assembly–then we need step 2–begin calling and emailing the general assembly to urge their support for this bill.

Do not be afraid to hit the economics argument first, foremost and head on in this call in campaign. We have a cited point by point, state by state, county by county refutation of any argument that strip mining creates jobs. State data and data from the mining industry itself shows that where ever strip mining has reared its head mining jobs have plummeted.

In Tennessee that’s especially ironic when our number one employer is tourism, mining is not even in the top 10. So don’t be afraid! The economic, social and environmental data is all on our side against strip mining here in Tennessee.

And as the bill makes its way through our assembly you can bet the assemblies of other states will be watching (and hearing) about what Tennessee is doing. In the 70’s it was Tennessee that dealt the final blow through legislation to the so called “broad form deed” which provided much of the momentum for strip mining then. We hope to repeat history. After Tennessee takes this step other states must take the idea more seriously. If we can get Tennessee to do the right thing for its own economic, social and environmental interest (and for its people) other states will come around.

WE NEED YOUR HELP! Don’t send us money! Hows that’s for an argument from an environmental group? Right now we need your voices to be heard in support for this bill. Once during our campaign against a road in Tennessee we got over 45,000 comments in opposition to it–we need that again. This is purely about numbers. We need everyone–SEAC, the Sierra Club, GreenPeace, CRMW, Mountain Justice Summer, EVERYONE to make this a priority. And of course the coal industry is going to freak out at this overt offense against there destruction of our mountains.


Call the Governor’s ethics hotline toll free at toll-free: 1-866-442-9025

Governor’s Office
Tennessee State Capitol
Nashville, TN 37243-0001

Phone: 615.741.2001
Fax: 615.532.9711
Email: [email protected]

Visit Bredesen personally!
Map to his office

Join United Mountain Defense info list:

Other things you can do to help save Tennessee’s Mountains:

Email [email protected] if you can help, have any questions—or if you could forward your comments and what you get back to us.

A bare bones copy of the bill


SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 59-8-205 is amended by adding the following language as subsection (d):

(d) No permit shall be issued for a surface mine utilized for the purpose of coal mining in the state of Tennessee.

SECTION 2. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 69-3-107 is amended by adding the following language as an appropriately designated subsection:

() The Commissioner shall not have the authority to issue a permit to an activity prohibited in Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 59-8-205(d).

SECTION 3. This act shall take effect upon becoming law, the public welfare requiring it.

Here is more context.

Here’s what the news below means. College student government members from across Tennessee passed legislation banning strip mining that will go to the desk of governor Bredesen and possibly to the Tennessee state legislature to be made into law. Thanks to Chris Irwin and Gena Lewis for drafting the anti-strip mining bills for us. There will be massive lobbying for this later so keep your eyes open and tell everyone you can to support this. We are potentially on the verge of banning strip mining in Tennessee.

Members of Tennessee Alumni & Students for Sustainable Campuses (TASSC) were busy in Nashville this past weekend at the 2006 Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature (TISL). At this annual mock-congress convergence, student leaders from across the state convene to write, debate, and pass legislation just like the actual state legislature. Bills that are passed through both the House and Senate of TISL are ultimately presented to Governor Bredesen for review.

Dominion waste coal power plant hearing, Oct. 17

On October 17th at 10 am, the VA State Corporation Commission (SCC) will hold a permit hearing for Dominion Virginia Power at the SCC’s courtroom in Richmond, VA (address below). Dominion has plans to build a 500-600 megawatt power plant in the mountains of Virginia City, VA, which would burn waste coal, biomass, and regular coal. This particular permit would grant Dominion with a 12% return on building costs- that means using Virginia taxpayer money to build a dirty, mtr-dependent power plant. Below, you will find the SCC’s Press Release regarding the permit.

If you live in or near Richmond, please come out to this meeting and make a comment! Pre-hearing comments can be filed with the SCC ([email protected] or 804-371-9141) regarding this permit (permit #: PUE-2006-00075). If you live in Wise County, we are trying to find a van & housing so people living near the proposed site & near mining sites can make it out there. Contact [email protected] for information about this. The hearing is at the Tyler Building, 1300 E. Main St., Richmond, Virginia 23219.

Please forward this message to anyone who would be interested in attending. If you cannot attend the meeting, you can listen to the online broadcast at on October 17th at 10 am.

Here is the SCC Press Release from September 20th:

SCC Contact information: Ken Schrad, (804) 371-9141; [email protected]


RICHMOND, VA — The State Corporation Commission (SCC) will allow comment from case participants on a procedural ruling by an SCC hearing examiner that Dominion Virginia Power (“Dominion”) must file an application to build a coal-fired power plant in Southwest Virginia before the SCC can rule on issues related to that application.

The SCC also is convening a public hearing on October 17, 2006 – which had been previously scheduled and noticed to the public – for the sole purpose of receiving any oral testimony from public witnesses. The hearing is set for 10 a.m. in the SCC’s courtroom. Audio of the hearing will be webcast via the SCC website.

Chief Hearing Examiner Deborah V. Ellenberg made a procedural ruling on September 15, 2006, that Dominion must file an application to build a coal-fired power plant in Southwest Virginia before the SCC legally can consider issues related to the application. The ruling by the hearing examiner does not prevent Dominion from filing an application to build the power plant in Southwest Virginia.

Dominion’s current petition does not request approval to build the power plant. Dominion did file a request for a preliminary determination of certain financial issues related to a possible new power plant in Southwest Virginia, but had not filed an application to build the plant, which is standard practice for the construction of new power plants.

The Virginia Committee for Fair Utility Rates, a group representing large industrial consumers, moved to dismiss Dominion’s request for preliminary determination of certain financial issues. The hearing examiner ruled that such motion should be granted.

The SCC’s order also extends to October 3, 2006, the date by which persons wishing to participate as parties in this case must file a notice of participation. Parties to the case may file comments on the hearing examiner’s procedural ruling on or before October 11, 2006.

Case number: PUE-2006-00075

Call to Action Ed Wiley to Arrive in Washington DC

Call to Action!!!!

Help support Ed Wiley on his final leg of the Pennies of Promise Walk to Washington DC!

On August 2, 2006, Ed Wiley set off on what would be an incredible journey through West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia on his way to Washington DC to ask that the children of Marsh Fork Elementary School, and everywhere else, be provided with a safe and healthy school in their own community. The Pennies of Promise campaign is pleased to announce that Ed is almost there! We are all so proud of him for standing up for the kids at Marsh Fork Elementary and the surrounding community. On September 13th, 2006 Ed will be ending his walk in DC and needs your support!

Here are a few ways you can help:

1. Come on out to DC and meet Ed at the Lady Bird Johnson Park on September 13th, 2006 at 7:30 am and at 8:00 am start the walk with Ed across the Arlington Memorial Bridge to the Washington Monument. We will leave the Washington Monument at 12:00 pm and walk on to the Cannon Building for the press conference at 1 pm. After a long time away from home, Ed will be glad to see a crowd of familiar faces for the last leg of his walk.

From the Metro:

Take the Metro to the Arlington Cemetery Stop on the Blue Line (Metro system map). Exit the station on the south side exit. Walk East towards DC over the bridge into Lady Bird Johnson Park. Look for the Pennies flag in the field to your right.


You can drive into Arlington and park at the Arlington National Cemetery (directions) (it’s $1.25/hr for the first 3 hours and $2/hr after that). From the parking lot head back out to Memorial Dr. and take a right. Walk over the bridge into Lady Bird Johnson Park and look for the Pennies flag to your right.

If you just want to meet Ed at the Washington Monument and do not want to walk across the Arlington Memorial Bridge, take the metro to the Smithsonian Stop on the Orange or Blue Lines. Please be at the Monument by 11:30 as we will be leaving for the Cannon Building at 12 noon for the press conference at 1 pm.

If you cannot come out to DC, don’t worry, there is still plenty you can do from home.

2. Call Governor Manchin on September 12th and ask him to please call Ed on September 13th, 2006 with good news that a new school will be built for the kids at Marsh Fork Elementary in THEIR own community. Governor Manchin can be reached at 1-888-438-2731.

3. Call Margaret Spellings, the U.S. Secretary of Education, (202) 401-3000. Politely ask her to make sure no child is left behind in the state of WV and Marsh Fork Elementary School. Politely ask Secretary Spellings to support the Pennies of Promise campaign and to please meet with Ed Wiley. Be sure to follow-up with an email to her reiterating these things. Her email is: [email protected] and make sure you copy her secretary Christina Wilson at [email protected]. You could even follow-up with a fax. (202) 401-0596.

4. Come on out to Ed’s Welcome Home party on September 18th, 2006…more info to come soon on this event!

Thanks again for all of your support and we hope to see you in DC!

Marsh Fork Elementary School

This is Marsh Fork Elementary. The school building sits just 225 feet from the coal silo and 400 yards downstream from a 385 foot tall sludge dam holding back over 2 billion gallons of toxic sludge which the Mine Safety and Health Administration says is leaking.

In an independent study, samples of dust were taken from various classrooms in the school. Analysis confirmed that all seven samples taken showed coal dust contamination, which has been proven to cause respiratory problems, especially in children. In his conclusion, Dr. Scott Simonton, Vice-Chair of the WV Governors Environmental Quality board, stated:

I believe that the occupants of Marsh Fork Elementary School are at risk from exposure to the dust emitted from the Goals Coal facility.

For updates and more information:

2nd loading silo above Marsh Fork Rejected!

A few months ago, Goals Coal applied again for permission to put up a second coal loading silo next to Marsh Fork Elementary School. After being initially approved last year, it was rejected a few weeks later on the grounds of inaccurate maps. They changed the maps and applied again.

After an intense and emotional hearing in which residents on all sides of the issue expressed a desire for a new school in the community the DEP rejected it. They\’re reasoning was that the proposed silo was, like the existing one, within 300 feet of a school in violation of both the letter and intent of the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act of 1977(SMCRA). Here are some news stories about it. And be sure to check out the Myths and Facts of Marsh Fork Elementary to the the truth about the Governor Manchin\’s spin.

DEP denies Massey permit to build 2nd silo near elementary
Associated Press
Massey loses bid for silo
Beckley Register-Herald

And don\’t forget to visit

National Governors Association Press Release

Appalachian Citizens Demonstrate at Governors Conference

Charleston, SC—The Mountain Justice Summer (MJS) campaign held a weekend of demonstrations and street theatre in conjunction with the National Governors Association conference in Charleston, SC. MJS is a grassroots campaign comprised of coalfields residents and their allies working to halt mountaintop removal coal mining across Appalachia and transition the Appalachian economy away from dependence on coal and toward a clean energy future.

At noon Friday, a plane carrying a banner reading, “Manchin: Stop Destroying my Mountains – God” flew over the governors’ exclusive golf outing on Kiawah Island, calling on West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin to end mountaintop removal mining.

Friday evening, as the governors were arriving on the historic Battery section for an evening of entertainment and refreshments, they were greeted by banners reading “End the destruction of Appalachia—Stop Mountaintop Removal.” MJS activists distributed literature and spoke to passersby.

Saturday morning, a handful of governors and their guests began a 5K fun run/walk for Healthy America. MJS participants gave them a cheery sendoff at the start and a warm welcome at the finish line. One MJS participant, Randal Pfleger, ran with the group. “After the governors run for their health this morning, I encourage them to run back and make strong stands against mountaintop removal. We cannot run from climate change or air pollution, and children can not run from asthma and coal dust,” he said.

Also on Saturday, demonstrators rallied outside the governors’ opening press conference at the Charleston County Courthouse. Activists shouted “Hey Joe, kids first” to greet Governor Manchin to remind him of his commitment to the health and safety of the students at Marsh Fork Elementary School in Sundial, WV. The school building sits just 225 feet from a coal silo and 400 yards from a 2.8 billion-gallon toxic coal waste sludge dam.

On Sunday, a “wedding” will take place between King Coal and the Appalachian states’ governors in downtown Charleston at the Charleston Place Hotel at 2:30 pm.

Activities will continue throughout the weekend and on Monday, August 7.

As national leaders, our nation’s governors have a responsibility to address the crisis of mountaintop removal coal mining caused by our addiction to cheap energy. The governors of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia , and West Virginia have the power through their environmental departments to close loopholes in legislation and enforcement that allow mountaintop removal.

Mountaintop removal wreaks havoc on local communities when coal companies use tons of explosives to remove the mountain from layers of coal. Repeated explosions crack the foundations of homes; prized fishing streams become highly polluted; speeding, overweight coal trucks cause frequent accidents; leaking toxic sludge dams threaten communities with flooding and annihilation.

“Coal kills, from cradle to grave. Strip mining is destroying our mountains, communities, and culture, while coal-burning power plants dramatically increase asthma and mercury contamination. With our health at risk and global climate change a reality, we cannot afford to drag our feet any longer in moving away from coal and toward clean, renewable energy,” said Judy Bonds, who traveled from Coal River Valley, WV to fight for her homeland.

For more information, see and


National Governors Association Convention August 4-6

National Governors Association Convention Call to Action

This weekend, while United States governors are milling around in luxuriant
hotels and admiring old slave plantations, residents in the coalfield
regions of Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, are
experiencing firsthand the dire effects of mountaintop removal coal mining.
Because of the indifference and complicity of the governors of these states,
over 500 square miles of forested mountains have been leveled in southern
Appalachia, lost forever to the greed of politicians and businessmen. So
while America’s state leaders are patting each other on the back and rubbing
shoulders with obscenely wealthy corporate executives, let’s get out there
and let them know that we’re not going to sit idly by while they reduce the
natural world to coal dust and capital returns.

Come to Charleston, South Carolina, August 4th-6th! Join coalfield citizens
and community activists as we confront the injustices perpetrated by a
government driven by profit. With creative irreverence and insightful
confrontation we will hold our supposed representatives accountable -to
their peers and to the public- for their insatiable appetite for industrial
expansion, and the havoc it wrecks on the land and people of Appalachia!

For more information & details of the weekend’s actions:

Email: [email protected]
Call: 843-723-5203

& get on down to Charleston!

Pennies of Promise Call to Action

Ed Wiley Walk from Charleston, WV to Washington DC:
Set up a presentaion for Ed in your town.

Help us tell Governor Manchin: NO TALK, NO ACTION, NOT ACCEPTABLE!
Help the Children of Marsh Fork Elementary School – Support the Pennies of Promise Campaign

The children of Marsh Fork Elementary School in Sundial, West
Virginia are in danger. A massive coal processing plant and silo
stand a stone\’s throw away from their playground. Nearly 3 billion
gallons of toxic sludge sit behind a leaking impoundment dam 400
yards from the school. The kids face constant health threats from the
dust and other chemicals put into the air by the processing plant,
and those with the authority to fix the situation, agencies like the
state and local school boards, the DEP, and the EPA, have remained
silent on the matter. Even the governor of West Virginia, Joe
Manchin, who has said that his main concern is with the children, has
fallen down on his promises.

Recently the Marsh Fork issue has gained national attention, with
articles in Vanity Fair and a feature on ABC World News Tonight, and
no longer can the plight of these children be kept in the dark.
Members of the Marsh Fork community and concerned citizens across the
nation feel that now is the time to take the health and safety of
these kids into our own hands. Many have come together to raise
awareness and funds for a new school, and with your help, we know
that the kids of Marsh Fork can be moved out of harm\’s way.

On August 2nd Ed Wiley, passionate grandfather of a Marsh Fork
student, will begin a 40 day walk from Charleston, WV to Washington,
DC to raise awareness about the issues at Marsh Fork Elementary
and to fundraise for the Pennies of Promise campaign to build a new
school. Each evening he will be stopping in a different town, with
the hope of giving presentations regarding Marsh Fork Elementary to whoever will listen. Below you
can find a list of the towns Ed plans on stopping in. If your town is
near a stop, but not on the list, Ed can still come to you if you
would like to hear him speak out about Marsh Fork.

How you can help

Pennies of Promise and the kids of Marsh Fork Elementary need your
help in spreading the word about Ed\’s walk and raising money to build
a new school. You can pitch in by setting up presentations in your
town, posting fliers, spreading the word to folks in the
community, walking in solidarity with him when he passes through
your town, or by giving your spare pennies and change. If you think
you can pitch in please contact Bo Webb at
[email protected].

If you would like to know more about Marsh Fork Elementary, sludge
dams, processing plants or Ed Wiley himself you can find much useful
information at the websites below. With your help we can get the
students of Marsh Fork out of danger, and ensure that all children
have a safe and healthy school in their own community.
Watch the first Pathway video
[email protected]

Pennies Of Promise
PO Box 18
Rock Creek, WV 25174-0018
(304) 854-1830

What happened with that Rendezvous?

July 10, 2006, Carbo, Virginia – Early this morning, activists with Earth First! and Rising Tide North America set up a non-violent blockade of American Electric Power’s (AEP) nearly 50 year old Clinch River coal fired electric facility. Emitting millions of pounds of pollutants yearly, the Clinch River coal plant threatens the health and lives of thousands of downwind residents and the surrounding environment. Burning coal is not only a primary factor behind global climate change, but also drives the expansion of large scale strip mining. Large scale surface mining destroys forests, streams and communities as it alters the Appalachian landscape forever.

Over 50 activists arrived at AEP’s Clinch River plant at 9:00 this morning. An Earth First!er attached a rope to the bridge and stretched it across the road while another suspended himself below the bridge over the Clinch River. One activist locked himself to the axle of the coal truck.
Earth First! and Rising Tide demand the following:

1. Shut down the Clinch River facility and all aging, dirty coal burning power plants.
2. An immediate halt to mountaintop removal and other destructive forms of strip mining.
3. A nationwide response to the reality of global climate change marked by a move away from fossil fuels, transition towards cleaner sources of energy and vigorous promotion of electricity conservation.

“The Clinch River facility is a symbol of all that is wrong with King Coal. Dirty air, ravaged landscapes and global climate disruption are the legacies of a corrupt, inefficient and destructive industry that kills with impunity” said Patrick Garnett of Lexington, Kentucky.

“The coal industry and its government puppets are ignoring widespread public concern over large scale strip mining, air pollution and global climate change” said Erin Mckelvy of Blacksburg, Virginia. “Concerned citizens are forced to take direct action to call attention to the devastation caused by the irresponsible mining and burning of coal” she added.

The Clinch River coal burner releases 4.25 million pounds of carbon dioxide into the air annually, contributing to an unpredictable change in the global climate. Particulate pollution from burning coal has been proven to worsen asthma for residents across the nation. Mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia has destroyed over 800 square miles of the most biologically diverse temperate forest in the world. Over 1200 miles of streams have been buried by valley fills and mining waste.

“I was born here in southwestern Virginia. The mountains here are part of my soul. They are sacred to me, and also to God” said Ernest Wayne Cantrell of Clintwood, Virginia. “I fight back because I can’t continue to watch the world’s oldest mountains be leveled forever” he continued.
Earth First! is an international environmental action movement focusing on protecting wild nature. Rising Tide North America is part of an international network focusing on the root causes of global climate change.

More information available at and

Great Series in the Roanoke Times

There was just recently a great series of articles about mountaintop removal in the Roanoke Times. The main story can be found on the Roanoke Times website. This series covers it all from the beginnings of MTR to the current growing movement to stop it. Not to mention the short animated piece about the process of destroying a mountain to get at the coal.

Fourth of July Celebration

It’s the Fourth of July Weekend and that means it’s time for everyone to gather on Kayford Mountain. Saturday will feature the mountain sounds Benji and Willie, Elaine Purky, and Kate Long. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own instruments and make their own music as well. There will be a Service on Sunday and dinner will be served at noon. Bring a covered dish if you wish.

Directions to Kayford Mountain:

  • Take I-77 to exit 79 (Sharon/Cabin Creek Road)
  • Go 7 1/2 miles to the “Y” at Leewood and take the right fork
  • Go 3 1/2 to 4 more miles and come to blacktop and dirt
  • At the left hand corner, take the one-lane bridge accross the creek
  • Stay on this road for 1 1/2 to 2 miles and go right up the hill.
  • Follow the guard rails to the end where you will come to a large white rock and a fork in the road
  • Take the right hand fork and turn into the parking lot on the left.

See you there!