Posted by: nocoalphilly | November 3, 2010

Thanks to the EPA, and the Next Step

As you know, EPA Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin has recommended
that the permit for mountaintop removal at Spruce Mine No. 1 in WV be
withdrawn. We have sent the following message to him and ask you all
to call EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and urge her to veto the permit
as per his recommendation.

Please call call 202-564-4700, identify yourself and where you are
from, and ask Administrator Jackson to veto the largest, most
destructive mining project currently on the table, Spruce Mine No. 1.
We are well on the way to victory.

Thank you,


Dear Mr. Garvin,

    We are writing to thank you for recommending that the permit for
Spruce Mine No. 1, the largest mountaintop removal site in West
Virginia, be withdrawn. Mountaintop removal has devastating effects on
wildlife, while polluting or burying streams and greatly harming the
local communities that depend on them.

    We would also like to express our appreciation to your office for
meeting with us to discuss this issue. We hope our input played some
part in your decision and that you will continue to recommend that
mountaintop removal permits be denied. We will now urge Administrator
Jackson to follow your splendid recommendation.

Cynthia Bertrand Holub on behalf of Philly Against Coal and Philly Rising Tide

Posted by: nocoalphilly | October 21, 2010

Another Step toward Victory against Mountaintop Removal!

We have tremendous news: EPA Region III Administrator Shawn Garvin has
recommended that the Spruce Mine permit (the largest one in
Appalachia, which we specifically spoke to Jeff Lapp about) be vetoed!
Now the final decision is in EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s hands.
Thank you to everyone who made a call, sent an email, or came to a rally.
Regional administrator asks for revocation of mine’s permit

Today signals a historic and hugely positive step taken by the EPA to protect the people of Appalachia, who have suffered the harmful and grave consequences of mountaintop removal mining for too long.

The news, just released, is that EPA Region III Administrator Shawn Garvin is recommending a veto of the permit for Spruce No. 1 Mine. Read here for background on the EPA’s historic decisionmaking around the Spruce No. 1 Mine. Garvin’s recommendation is to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who ultimately must make the decision.

What this means is that after years of watching their streams buried and waters contaminated by mountaintop removal mining, there is hope for the health and well-being of the people of Appalachia.

Here is part of Garvin’s letter :

Based on the foregoing analysis and upon consideration of the public comments received in response to Region Ill’s proposed detennination, Region III believes that discharges of dredged and/or fill material to Pigeonroost Branch and Oldhouse Branch for the purpose of constructing the Spruce No.1 Surface Mine as currently authorized by DA Pennit would likely have unacceptable adverse effects on wildlife.

For this reason, it is the recommendation of the Regional Administrator that the specification embodied in DA Pennit No. 199800436-3 (Section 10: Coal River) of Pigeonroost Branch and Oldhouse Branch as disposal sites for discharges of dredged and/or fill material for construction of the Spruce No. 1 Surface Mine be withdrawn.

Garvin said the 50,000 public comments received as a part of this process helped to inform his decision, in addition to the science and analysis conducted by his office.

To be clear, this recommendation alone does not determine the outcome of the permit for the Spruce mine. It is a step along the way — and one that must be reinforced by a full veto of the permit by Jackson. The EPA has 60-120 days to make a final decision.

In this time, we must make it clear to the EPA and to Jackson that a full veto of the largest proposed mine in Appalachia is absolutely necessary. This veto won’t solve the problems of mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia and it won’t guarantee that the people of the region will have full protection of the Clean Water Act, but it is a step in the right direction.

My colleague Joan Mulhern, Earthjustice Senior Legislative Representative, had strong words a bit ago on this recommendation that I believe cut to the heart of what’s at stake here: 

We applaud the EPA and Regional Administrator Garvin for taking this important step toward a final veto.  Congress gave EPA oversight of these permits for a reason: it is the agency’s job to make sure waters are protected to the full extent of the law.  This step honors that legal – and we believe moral – responsibility.  We hope Administrator Jackson will follow this recommendation and veto the unacceptable permit for the Spruce Mine.

For too long, mountaintop removal mining has made Appalachia into a national sacrifice zone for the polluting dirty energy industry. This practice –  which obliterates mountains, buries streams, and harms water supplies – goes against both science and the law. This national sacrifice of Appalachia must end. The Spruce No. 1 Mine permit must be fully vetoed, and the EPA must follow that with a strong policy that honors the Clean Water Act and finally ends mountaintop removal mining.

15 October 2010, 11:26 AM Liz Judge

Posted by: nocoalphilly | July 2, 2010

EPA Lemonade Shockingly Unpopular

Serving up toxic lemonade outside the Region 3 EPA

At noon on Thursday, a group of young entrepreneurs set up shop outside the Region 3 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) office in Philadelphia. They were selling “real West Virginia lemonade” made with “EPA-approved fresh Appalachian mountain spring water.” On closer inspection, their pitchers were filled with foamy brown liquid, not the ice cube-studded refreshing yellow one might expect. The beverages were being served to raise awareness around the water pollution in Appalachia resulting from mountaintop removal mining,and specifically a new mine site in Pine Creek, WV. The stand was sponsored by Philly Against Coal, a coalition of environmental groups in Philadelphia urging the EPA to end mounatintop removal and halt all permits.

Mountaintop removal (MTR) mining is a form of stripmining that clearcuts entire mountains, then dynamites the tops off to mine a small seam of coal from within. So far over 500 mountains in Appalachia have been destroyed, resulting in loss of biodiversity and the burying of thousands of miles of waterways. Local communities suffer from air pollution and water toxicity, leading to health problems for residents.

The Region 3 EPA office in Philadelphia is charged with reviewing permits for MTR sites in Virginia and West Virginia. In April the agency released new guidelines for permit review and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson stated that under the new guidelines there would be “very few valley fills.” Valley fills occur when trees that have been clear-cut from the tops of the mountains are dumped into nearby valleys to decompose. Last week the agency greenlighted its first permit since it released the guidelines, the permit for Pine Creek mine in Logan County, West Virginia. The Pine Creek mine will create three valley fills and bury two miles of streams. “We thought that under the new guidelines, permits like this would no longer be deemed acceptable,” said Cat Glenn, one of the beverage pushers, and a member of Philly Against Coal, “The EPA is not protecting the people of Appalachia. They are allowing King Coal to destroy the environment and poison the local communties. People in Philadelphia don’t want to drink this water, so why does the EPA give the ok for people in West Virginia to drink it?”

Cat offers up some pitchers of Pine Creek lemonade

The lemonade hawkers tried many sales tactics, from educating people about the many metal supplements found in Appalachian water that is filtered out of their own Philadelphia tap water, to challenging “The EPA says it’s safe – you be the judge!” They were met with smiles from passersby and EPA employees alike, yet not a single person stopped to sip the lemonade. EPA administrators Jeff Lapp and Shawn Garvin were personally invited down for a taste, but neither RSVP’ed. The salespeople eventually packed up shop, vowing that their next sales venture would be more profitable. “Maybe we could try selling native Gulf of Mexico fish?” suggested one group member as they poured out their pitchers.

Posted by: nocoalphilly | June 9, 2010

Call Now to End Mountaintop Removal!

EPA: Pledge to End Mountaintop Removal

Members of PAC outside the EPA in March 2010


Yesterday morning members of Philly Against Coal (PAC), joined by Appalachian local and Coal River Mountain Watch organizer Lorelei Scarbro, met with EPA Administrators at the EPA’s Region 3 Office. The Region 3 Office in Philadelphia oversees permits for mountaintop removal mines in Virginia, West Virginia, and other coal states, playing a critical role in the struggle to end mountaintop removal!

We demanded that the Region 3 Office drastically increase transparency with impacted community members, assess cumulative impacts, and deny permits to an outlaw industry that disregards science and safety laws.

Unfortunately, only six of us were able to attend yesterday’s meeting. Please add your voice and register your resistance. Please call administrator Jeffrey Lapp today with the message below.

Jeffrey Lapp’s number: 215-814-2717


“Hi my name is __________ and I’m calling from _______. I’m aware that a coalition of mountaintop removal activists met with you yesterday. I’m urging you to continue these conversations and increase transparency with impacted community members in EPA’s Region 3. I am eager for you to take a citizen-led flyover tour of the destruction rendered by mountaintop removal.

Appalachians can’t afford any new permitted mountaintop removal mine sites. We need you to protect the waterways you are entrusted with and deny all new permits.”

At the meeting, We pressed administrators to deny permits for active mining proposals, including the Ison Rock Ridge, Pine Creek, and Spruce #1 permits. If permitted, these mines would threaten hundreds of peoples’ health, water, and history. Spruce #1 is the largest proposed mountaintop removal mine site in West Virginia history, while the Ison Rock Ridge permit has faced 3 years of active opposition from members of the surrounding community.

Please call Jeffrey Lapp at 215-814-2717 TODAY and ask him to increase transparency with impacted communities, do a citizen-led flyover, and deny all new MTR permits!

Many thanks,
Philly Against Coal

Climate Ground Zero activists in a tree sit in August 2009

Climate Ground Zero activists in a tree sit in August 2009

Hi everyone,

Hope you’re enjoying the warm weather! Philly Against Coal has been corresponding with the EPA and will be meeting with administrators in May, we’ll keep you updated!

In the mean time one of our coalition members, Philly Rising Tide, is hosting an event next week with some incredible activists from West Virginia, and we’d love for you to come!

Climate Ground Zero is the only campaign in Appalachia employing direct action tactics on the ground to stop blasting. Through lock-downs, sit-ins and tree sits, they are fighting the coal companies on their turf. Come meet members of Climate Ground Zero and hear about their work first-hand! Info is below.

Looking forward to seeing you there! Please forward widely and invite your friends on facebook.


Tuesday May 4th 7:00PM

Climate Ground Zero Road Show
Wooden Shoe Books
704 South Street
Phila PA 19147

Climate Ground Zero volunteers will be giving a presentation about mountaintop removal coal mining and the non-violent direct action campaign to end it. Come hear first-hand accounts of the negative impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining and listen to the stories of some of the people who are resisting this detrimental practice in the coalfields of West Virginia.

Climate Ground Zero is not an environmental organization; it is an ongoing campaign of non-violent civil disobedience in southern West Virginia to end mountaintop removal. Climate Ground Zero believes that the irrevocable destruction of the mountains of Appalachia and its accompanying toll on the air, water, and lives of Appalachians necessitates continued and direct action.

In West Virginia, an overwhelming majority of residents are opposed to mountaintop removal mining. However, political interests are highly invested in the coal industry and the EPA and the West Virginia DEP refuse to take real action to protect the environment and the people of West Virginia.

In order to stop mountaintop removal, we need to awaken the country to the devastation that mountaintop removal inflicts on one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, Appalachia, and its people. Since Climate Ground Zero came to West Virginia in 2009, hundreds of activists have come to the coalfields and stood with the residents of West Virginia to demand an end to the destruction.

RSVP on facebook:

Posted by: nocoalphilly | April 7, 2010

Delivery for the EPA: 1 Thank You Cake!


Monday, members of Philly Against Coal (PAC) delivered a cake to EPA Region 3 Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin. The cake features a healthy mountain and stream, and read “Thank you Region 3!”

PAC presented the cake to thank the EPA for two decisions they released last week. The EPA announced a veto of the Spruce No.1 mine site, the largest mountaintop removal site in West Virginia. The EPA has never before vetoed a permit on an active site, this decision was unprecedented in the EPA’s history. The decision came from the Region 3 office in Philadelphia.

The second major announcement from the EPA was new guidelines for reviewing MTR permits! Probably the most exciting of these is huge restrictions on valley fills. It is clear that the EPA is responding to public pressure, and that is why PAC wanted to say thank you!

With our cake we included a card reading,
epa card

“To the 404 Group,

We wanted to send this card and cake to thank you for your recent hard work and decisions!

We were thrilled to hear that in late March, the EPA too special measures to safeguard federal waterways in Logan Co, WV. By vetoing Arch Coal Company’s Spruce No.1 permit, you helped move Appalachia one step closer to a safe, sustainable, and just energy future. Thank you for making the unprecedented move to veto an already permitted mining permit!

We are also grateful to the EPA for issuing new guidelines to review mountaintop removal permits. The guidelines are a clear indication that the agency acknowledges irreversible damage from mining pollution and is committed to stopping it.

The cake we’ve baked shows (to the best of our cake-making ability) the type of healthy mountain ecosystem we want to preserve. We hope you’ll enjoy this cake, celebrate your own hard work, and continue to strictly prohibit mountaintop removal that endangers human and environmental health.

Interestingly, while learning about surface mining, we’ve often heard mountaintop removal mining described in terms analogous to extracting frosting from between layers of cake. It is said that mountaintop removal mining is similar to taking off the top layer of a cake, only to extract a thin seam of frosting. We expect that you won’t eat your cake this way, and hope you won’t permit coal mining to take place this way either!

Let’s carry this momentum forward and end all mountaintop removal in 2010!

Philly Against Coal (PAC)

P.S. We are still eager to meet with you about MTR permits still under review.”

PAC looks forward to hearing back from Mr.Garvin and the 404 Group, we hope they enjoyed the cake!

cake in box

Posted by: nocoalphilly | April 3, 2010

EPA Makes Two Major Announcements Worth Celebrating

In the past week and a half we’ve had two very exciting announcements from the EPA!

First, on March 26, the EPA announced that it was vetoing Arch Coal Co.’s permit for the Spruce No.1 mine in Logan County, West Virginia. The Spruce No.1 site is one of the largest surface mining operations ever authorized in Appalachia, and the largest in West Virginia. For over a decade, Arch Coal and the federal government have been in court on and off over the fate of the mine. In 2007, the company was given the go ahead and Arch Coal began strip mining.

The EPA reviews permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that they comply with the Clean Water Act. The EPA has used it’s authority to veto only 12 times since 1972, when the Clean Water Act was passed. It has never vetoed an already permitted mine like Spruce No. 1.

This is an unprecedented move by the EPA. In our correspondence with Jeff Lapp and Shawn Garvin, we have pressured them about the Spruce No.1 permit. It seems that our efforts were effective. This is a huge victory!

For more information about the Spruce No. 1 Permit veto, check out’s article.

Second, on April 1, in a move so amazing it almost felt like an April Fools joke, the EPA issued new guidelines for reviewing MTR permits! Probably the most exciting of these is the end of valley fills. Valley fills are just what they sound like – all the waste from mining is dumped into a valley, where toxins can leak downstream into water. In their announcement, the EPA said that from now on they will allow “no or very few” valley fills. Kate Rooth from Rainforest Action Network has a good take-down of the guidelines. You can read the EPA’s news release and guideline summary, “Comprehensive Guidance to Protect Appalachian Communities From Harmful Environmental Impacts of Mountaintop Mining”, here. The full statement can be read here.

These are HUGE victories for the campaign! Thank you so much to all of you who have helped pressure the EPA to make this happen!

Posted by: nocoalphilly | April 3, 2010

Don’t Be Fossil Fooled!

Ever heard of Fossil Fools Day? It falls on April 1st each year and began in 2004 when environmental groups began making a mockery of the year’s biggest “Fossil Fool”.

This year, Philadelphia environmentalists told morning commuters not to be “fossil fooled” by PNC Bank – a bank that calls itself “A Green Bank with Eco-Friendly Service”. PNC Bank has direct and indirect connections to mountaintop removal coal mining.

Activists protest PNC Bank's funding of mountaintop removal.

In 2003, there was the $55 million line of credit PNC provided to Massey Energy, the most aggressive mountaintop removal mining company in the coal industry. In 2006, PNC assisted Peabody Energy in establishing a $2.75 billion credit facility. Then, in 2008, PNC held 33% of BlackRock shares. BlackRock is an leading asset management firm with energy portfolios that focus on coal companies, including companies that practice mountaintop removal. And today, PNC’s CEO, James E. Rohr, is called an “insider” member of BlackRock’s Board of Directors.

Morning protesters with Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) and Rising Tide Philly were quick to shine a light on these connections. The group of approximately 30 sang classic folk songs with altered lyrics to reveal the connections and their good-natured prank.

As commuters stepped off the bus at 1600 Market St., they heard new renditions of “where have all the flowers [mountains] gone”, “Go tell it on a mountain”, “She’ll be coming around the mountain” and other classics. While protesters kept the songs and mood playful, some wearing jester hats and holding massive fake checks, they raised serious concerns.

Several protest participants took to a ‘soap box’ to tell passers-by that they were standing in solidarity with the people of Appalachia whose water and health have been compromised by mountaintop removal. Soap boxers also told the crowd that they are excited to see PNC Bank take a leadership role in Green Building initiatives at their banks. They called on the Bank to do more. Protesters call on PNC to stop doing business with “climate criminals” like mountaintop removal companies and to invest in climate solutions and energy independence. Their call was to Bank Like Appalachia Matters (BLAM).

Protesters line up outside PNC.

You can take a look at more photos from Fossil Fools Day on Flickr

Posted by: nocoalphilly | March 3, 2010

Victory for Philly Activists at EPA Rally

Yesterday, a group of 40 concerned community members members rallied outside the Region 3 EPA building on Arch St in Philadelphia, where they demanded that the Agency stop approving new permits for mountaintop removal (MTR) mining. Philly’s Region 3 office reviews MTR permits in Virginia and West Virginia.

The crowd chanted “Ending MTR, who has the say? Region 3 of the EPA!”, while myself and fellow Rising Tide activist Josh Yoder attempted to enter the building with a letter for senior Region 3 Administrator Shawn Garvin. We were prepared to risk arrest (apparently entering a public government building without an appointment is an arrestable offense in Philadelphia) in order to deliver our message and secure a meeting with Jeffrey Lapp, an administrator who oversees the 404 Group that reviews the permits. We first contacted and met Lapp in November and requested a meeting in January, but had not heard back.

When we attempted to enter the building, we were headed off by multiple security guards, followed quickly by the arrival of several police officers who blockaded the doors so that no one could enter or exit. A security guard assured us that someone would come down and meet with us, but we could not enter. Josh and I gave them five minutes before we would try to enter, which would have likely lead to our immediate arrest.

Lucky for us, the guards were not bluffing, and within minutes we saw Jeff Lapp’s familiar face through the line of cops. He accepted our letter on behalf of Garvin, and promised to set up a meeting with us within one week, by March 8th. Victory!

Robin and Josh speak with EPA Administrator Jeff Lapp

We took this opportunity to ask him questions about his role in ending MTR, as well as about specific sites, such as the Bee Tree site on Coal River Mountain. We requested that we meet with administrators with the authority to meet our demands. While we talked, the crowd of people banged drums and chanted “It’s time to take a stand. Jeff Lapp, lend us a hand!” When we felt we had sufficiently grilled him, we said goodbye and returned to the rest of the rally, where we announced our victory. After some triumphant chants, everyone packed up our gear and shared hot chocolate and cookies.

Simultaneous to our action, activists in Atlanta rallied outside their Region 4 EPA Office, responsible for reviewing MTR sites in Tennessee and Kentucky. Activists were able to meet with a top administrator – Stanley Meiburg, who got off an important call with national EPA head administrator Lisa Jackson to meet with them! Meiburg told them he was aware of our contact with Garvin in Philly, and agreed to set up a meeting in Atlanta too!

Overall, the two actions were a huge success, and a great lead-up to this weekend’s Week in Washington. To see pictures of both actions, check out RAN’s flickr album.

This action was organized by Philly Rising Tide, Philly Against Coal, Rainforest Action Network and Energy Justice Network.

Thanks to everyone who supported us! We’ll be sure to keep the pressure on when we meet with Jeff.

Posted by: nocoalphilly | February 22, 2010

Action at the EPA: Mon Mar 1 @ 11am!

Hey everyone, we have another awesome action coming up! Check out the info below, and pass the word on to your friends!


Mountaintop removal mining doesn’t happen here in Philadelphia, or even in Pennsylvania, but the decision to destroy our Appalachian mountains, happens at 1650 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19103.

It is where we need to be.

The EPA Office in Philadelphia is currently reviewing 23 mountaintop removal mining permits. Community leaders in West Virginia are organizing around the clock to stop these permits and to stop further destruction from mining. In the past few months, senior citizens have marched to Massey Energy subsidiary Mammoth Coal, bringing a message to end mountaintop removal mining.

In Pennsylvania, we need to stand with West Virginians. Nearly 500 miles away, we have the opportunity to get the attention of EPA administrators deciding on the mining permits. Join us on March 1st to speak out against mountaintop removal mining.

What: Protest! We will have signs, information flyers, and chants prepared 🙂
Where: 1650 Arch St., Philadelphia
When: March 1st, beginning at 11am
Who: You! Recruit a friend or 5
RSVP: If possible, let us know if you are planning on coming.
Robin Markle: robinmarkle [at], 845.594.9138
Amy Wilson: amy [at], 507.581.4421

You can also RSVP and invite your friends on facebook:

To see how mountaintop removal is affecting communities, check out this trailer to the film Burning the Future:

More info on MTR:

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