Next day delivery within Seattle from Delvy at checkout | $12

The fight continues in West Virginia...

As a West Virginian by birth, it's been hard to watch and hear about the environmental issues swirling around West Virginia, almost always centered around coal mining and the near-by rivers and creeks that are impacted. Since West Virginia is by no means a state overflowing with economic opportunity, the opportunities that do exist are often pushed ahead despite the environmental impact they might have. One such case from 2006-2007 had to do with how to dispose of the growing sewage from Snowshoe Ski Resort. Plans were in place to build a new plant on the banks of the Elk River (one of West Virginia's bluest of blue ribbon trout streams...if not the bluest), a river that goes underground for a 5 mile stretch and has multiple other caves and springs along it that could have major, long lasting damage done should something go wrong. But perhaps the most radical threat to the mountains and spring fed creeks and rivers of West Virginia is the coal extraction practice known as mountaintop removal mining--which does exactly what the name suggests. The basic procedure is this: "Mountaintop removal mining operations use explosives to blast off the tops of mountains to reach the coal seams beneath. Millions of tons of waste rock, dirt, and vegetation are pushed into surrounding valleys, burying miles of streams." This turns what is beautiful, rolling mountains into flattened areas that look like the surface of the moon. (For pictures, see here: http://www.ohvec.org/galleries/mountaintop_removal/007/) I did stumble upon a small glimmer of hope today, however. On January 13 of this year the U.S. EPA shot down the largest proposed MTR mine in West Virginia history. After being stalled in the courts for some time, it appears that the EPA pulled the plug because they were not seeing enough changes from the proposed mining company to address the potential for environmental impact detailed by the EPA. You can read more here: http://www.kmtr.com/news/environmental/story/EPA-Yanks-Permit-for-West-Virginias-Largest/p-Em8vcpjkaq-EYel4yb-g.cspx Now, I said that it was only a small glimmer of hope. As you read through the article it will become increasingly clear that the state of WV directly opposes the decision by the EPA, and the Acting Governor has already committed to fighting the decision. Unfortunately for the rivers and creeks of WV, they are not the bountiful, salmon and trophy trout stuffed rivers that lead to major commercial and guide industry profits that the state of Alaska can use to fight Pebble. There are jobs that are tied to the rafting and fishing industry in WV, but those industries barely scratch the surface of number of jobs that would come with a MTR mine of this size. In WV, this becomes an even greater hurdle to overcome. Perhaps what will catch the attention of the state, if the health of the forest and streams near the proposed mines do not, will be the health of the human residents that call the state home. The NY Times ran an article in Sept. 2009 about the toxic tap water that flowed not through the rural backwoods of WV, but through Charleston...the capital. Showers were producing rashes and drinking water was destroying the enamel of children's teeth because of the amount of arsenic, barium, and lead found in the tap water. Mines were found to be pumping chemicals into the ground, but were not fined by the state. I know that the debate over mining practices and the impact on the natural world around them isn't limited to West Virginia--it stretches the length of the Appalachians, and obviously now has a major presence in Alaska with Pebble. What scares me though, is the lack of economic resources in West Virginia as a whole, and therefore the willingness to roll the dice and see what happens. Here's to clean water for ALL residents of West Virginia...
Previous post Next post