Speak Out Against Mountaintop-Removal Coal Mining

Mountaintop-removal coal mining (MTR) literally levels the tops of mountains to extract the coal underneath, dumping the leftover debris as “fill” into surrounding streams and waterways. It’s a form of mining that devastates communities and ecosystems, and imperils the rich Appalachian culture – and that’s before we even talk about the climate-change effects of all that burning coal and deforestation.

It becomes a deadly lose-lose situation when you add in the enormous amounts of toxic waste generated by both coal-mining and coal-burning, and left behind in “coal slurry” ponds, filled with carcinogenic compounds and toxic heavy metals. These ponds sometimes leak or collapse, fouling local rivers and streams and contaminating ground water.

Green America, along with our allies at MoxyVote, are taking on Alpha Natural Resources and Arch Coal, two companies engaged in destructive mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia. You can add your voice to our letter, asking them to stop MTR, and embrace renewable energy.

Send a message to Alpha Natural Resources »

Send a message to Arch Coal »

The True Cost of Coal

The American Economic Review has just published a paper, “Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy,” which highlights the economic costs of air pollution versus economic benefits for several industries.  While the paper is fairly dense (and there is a cost to download it), the authors make clear that the economic harms of coal-fired power far outweigh its economic benefits.  In fact, coal has the worst cost benefit ratio of several polluting industries profiled, including solid waste combustion, sewage treatment, and stone quarrying (which also create more economic harms than benefits).  The authors of this study are just looking at the air-pollution harms of coal, which leaves aside the many other health and environmental harms caused by coal-fired power plants.  If you add those in, it is exceedingly clear that coal has a major negative impact on the US economy.

In fact, a study published earlier this year by the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, and written by faculty at the Center for Health and Global Environment at  Harvard Medical School, found that the true cost of coal is up to ½ trillion dollars per year, when all environmental and health impacts are added in.  Based on this true cost accounting, all clean energy sources are much cheaper than coal.  Of course, if you consider the fact that some of the economic harms of coal literally result from people dying, the need to transition our energy mix away from coal becomes even more urgent.

You can help end coal-fired power in the US.  Please join Green America in telling Southern Company, one of our most polluting utilities, that it needs to move rapidly away from coal to clean energy and energy efficiency! Take action with us today!

Save Blair Mountain and Coal River Mountain

You have a chance to raise your voice right now about two mountains that are slated for destruction in Southern West Virginia. This week the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is taking comments on the renewal of the now expired Camp Branch Permit on Blair Mountain, as well as the Beetree Surface Mine Permit on Coal River Mountain.

Submit comments for Coal River Moutnain by August 9th – http://iLoveMountains.org/Coal-River
Sumbit comments for Blair Mountain by August 13th – http://iLoveMountains.org/Blair-Mountain

Just two months ago, 1,000 people gathered in Southern West Virginia to march on Blair Mountain, demanding that the mountain be preserved and rightly recognized as a National Historic Place. Weeks later, two tree sitters began an occupation of Coal River Mountain, which is ongoing and continues to prevent blasting on Coal River Mountain.

Now the EPA needs to hear from you that mountaintop removal needs to end.

March to Save Blair Mountain

In 1921, more than 10,000 West Virginia coal miners marched over Blair Mountain, in Logan County, WV, protesting unsafe working conditions in the mines, and with the intention of rescuing illegally imprisoned mine workers in Mingo County, on the Kentucky border. The marchers were met on the mountain by heavily armed anti-union coal-company thugs, and the result was the bloodiest battle on US soil since the Civil War.

This past weekend, in a march truly designed to bring together both sides of the green equations — people and the planet — nearly 800 pro-union and pro-clean-energy advocates recreated the march to Blair Mountain, in support of good clean-energy jobs for West Virginia, and in opposition to mountaintop removal mining.

In 2009, the National Park Service had listed Blair Mountain in the National Register because of the battle that happened there. But after lobbying from coal companies, the listing was removed, and now Blair Mountain faces destruction from mountaintop removal coal mining. Meanwhile, local residents suffer from polluted air and water, and ruined land covered over with “fill” — the tops of the mountains dumped down into the valleys after they’ve been blown to bits for the coal.

Green America marched in solidarity with local residents, workers’ rights advocates, and clean energy advocates, for a brighter Appalachian future.

Check out our slideshow on Facebook »