Posted by: nocoalphilly | November 21, 2009

Youth Present Citations to EPA, Demand an End to Blasting on Coal River Mountain

On Thursday November 17th, Philadelphia area youth associated with the newly formed Philadelphia Coalition Against Coal gathered at the Region 3 EPA Office with a letter and some very large gifts for EPA employee Jeff Lapp. The youth demanded the agency reject 79 mountaintop removal coal mining permits and end the practice of mountaintop removal mining.  The EPA initially reviewed the 79 permits in September, but failed to issue the permits because they do not meet standards of the Clean Water Act.  Since September, 23 permits have been held for further review at the Region 3 EPA Office, located in Center City Philadelphia.

citation action flyering

The youth were also demanding answers to the EPA’s silence around the blasting on Coal River Mountain in WV. Coal River Mountain was the last intact mountain in the Coal River Valley mountain range and it has been the target of a national campaign to transition from coal to wind energy.  An economic feasibility study of the Coal River Valley found that this same mountain range could host a 328 MW commercial-scale wind farm. Instead, the EPA has allowed Massey Energy, one of the largest coal producers in the country, to begin blasting at Coal River Mountain as part of mountaintop removal mining excavation. Massey was granted these permits despite having a record 4,500 violations of the Clean Water Act in 2008.

On November 4, the West Virginia DEP “quietly cited Massey subsidiary Marfork Coal Co. for using too large a load of explosives in its blasting operations at Bee Tree.” While one citation is a good first step, the youth brought a letter to the EPA stating, “We must ask, why is more not being done? With a track record like [Massey’s], why are they still being granted permits?” To encourage the EPA to more closely regulate the blasting, the youth presented EPA official Jeff Lapp with four homemade citations suggesting larger impact violations Massey should be cited for. The mock citations included “Violating the Clean Water Act”, “Inadequate Protection of Biological Diversity in the Appalachian Mountains”, “Excessive Use of Coal” and “Failure to Envision a Clean Energy Future”.

peabody citation

dominion citation

dep massey citations

Lapp, who works on water quality issues, spoke with those assembled, answering questions and concerns for about 15 minutes. When presented with the citations and letter, he graciously accepted them and brought them inside, where one youth suggested he keep them around for “inspiration.” The two parties agreed to set up a time to meet again in the near future.

meeting with lapp

The Region 3 EPA office in Philadelphia has jurisdiction in Delaware, DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Virginia and West Virginia are the sites of many mountaintop removal sites. Mountaintop removal mining has become a controversial mining technique because of the numerous environmental impacts connected to it.  Several of these impacts include deforestation of large tracts of land and dynamiting mountaintops to uncover coal seams that lie below the surface. The technique also produces a large volume of mining debris that, according to 2005 figures from the EPA, has buried 1,200 miles of creeks and streams in Appalachia.

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Responses

  1. […] After a few hours of flyering the employees and others passing by, Jeff Lapp, EPA staff in the Watershed division came down to speak with the youth.  Read more about their conversation here […]


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