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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Posted by: nocoalphilly | November 21, 2009

Welcome to the PCAC blog!

PCAC is the Philadelphia Coalition Against Coal. It is a coalition of groups and individuals working to end the use of coal as fossil fuel. Specifically we are focusing right now on pressuring the EPA to end mountaintop removal mining (MTR). For more information on MTR, see our Mountaintop Removal page.

To get more information or get involved, e-mail us at nocoalphilly@gmail.com.

Posted by: nocoalphilly | November 21, 2009

Philly Activists Demand Lisa Jackson Save Coal River Mountain

Sunday, November 8th, 2009- Philly activists protested and flyered today outside the Opening Session of the American Public Health Association’s 137 Annual Meeting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was a keynote speaker.

APHA flyering

Flyering outside the Convention Center

The activists were demanding that Ms.Jackson end blasting on Coal River Mountain in Coal River, WV. The mountain is the site of a campaign by local residents for a commercial-scale wind farm. A wind resources assessment and economic study commissioned by the group Coal River Mountain Watch in 2008 revealed that Coal River Mountain has enough wind potential to provide electricity for over 85,000 homes.

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. The blasting is occurring near the Brushy Fork impoundment, the largest slurry dam in Appalachia. Critics of mountaintop removal argue that an estimated 1,000 lives are at risk if the dam at Brushy Fork were to fail. Last December, a containment pond in Kingston, Tennessee burst, flooding the area with over one billion gallons of coal ash sludge, producing the largest environmental disaster in United States history.

Attendees to the APHA’s annual meeting were given flyers on their way into the opening session urging them to “Tell Lisa Jackson: Save Coal River Mountain.” Ms. Jackson and the EPA have been the targets of a campaign by a coalition of environmental groups working to end mountaintop removal for several months.

lisa jackson flyer image

Posted by: nocoalphilly | November 21, 2009

Trick-or-Treat at the EPA

On October 30, about 20 people showed up at the office of the Environmental Protection Agency in Philly, flyering and performing street theater against mountaintop removal mining (MTR). The protest was part of a national day of action called for by Energy Justice Network, Mountain Justice and Rainforest Action Network. Protests took place at all 10 regional EPA offices as well as 20 other local targets.

Trick or Treat at the EPA

Trick-or-Treaters at the end of the action

Protesters celebrated Halloween a day early, chanting “Mountaintop removal is a trick, not a treat. EPA: give us something sweet!” the activists called for the EPA to end mountaintop coal removal, including the blasting currently taking place on Coal River Mountain in Coal River, WV.

Joanna Solar Energy

A street theater skit included a scuba-diver trick-or-treater asking coal company CEOs for a treat – all she gets is coal! When she asks Lisa Jackson, however, she gets a very special treat. Check out the video:

More photos and video after the jump! Read More…

Posted by: nocoalphilly | November 21, 2009

Philly Activists Protest Blasting on Coal River Mountain

On the morning of Thursday, Oct 29, local Philadelphia activists dropped a banner reading “Save Coal River Mountain” in response to blasting on the iconic mountain in Coal River, West Virginia.

Philly Banner Drop - Coal River

The banner was hung from the 18th Street overpass above the Vine St Expressway and contrasted images of a wind farm and a bulldozer; the bottom read, “Coal Is Over.”

Massey Energy Company, one of the largest coal producers in the country, began blasting at Coal River Mountain last Friday, in Coal River, West Virginia. Last year the state issued permits to conduct mountain top removal on the site, despite protest by local residents. Witnesses saw blasts and smoke on Friday near the Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment. Slurry is the by-product of coal washing and processing and contains high levels of toxic heavy metals. The Brushy Fork impoundment, the largest slurry dam in Appalachia, has the capacity to hold 8.2 billion gallons. Critics of mountaintop removal argue that an estimated 1,000 lives are at risk if the dam at Brushy Fork were to fail. Last December, a containment pond in Kingston, Tennessee burst, flooding the area with over one billion gallons of coal ash sludge, producing the largest environmental disaster in United States history.

For the last two years, local residents have campaigned for a commercial-scale wind farm on Coal River Mountain. The Coal River Wind campaign has asked West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin to rescind the mining permits for Coal River Mountain. So far, Governor Manchin has denied the group’s request. A wind resources assessment and economic study commissioned by Coal River Mountain Watch in 2008 revealed that Coal River Mountain has enough wind potential to provide electricity for over 85,000 homes and would create more jobs over the expected life of the turbines than the proposed mountaintop removal mine.

“As world leaders are looking for solutions to climate change and economic crisis, we are presented with an incredible opportunity to develop green, sustainable technologies,” said one activist, who asked to be identified only as Hannah. “Coal is a fuel of the past. We need to be looking to long-term, sustainable solutions such as wind and solar for our energy needs.”

Tomorrow is a national day of action to end mountaintop removal, with 25 actions planned around the country. In Philadelphia, environmentalists will rally outside the EPA offices on 17th St & JFK Blvd. The protest runs from 11am-1pm and demands that the EPA cease approving permits for mountaintop removal sites. Read More…

Posted by: nocoalphilly | November 21, 2009

We Need 86 Mountains Because…

On September 8, a day before the EPA was scheduled to announce a decision on 86 mountaintop removal permits it had been reviewing, five of us gathered and fliered outside the EPA office on 17th St.

We had a white board that read “we need 86 mountains b/c…” where people could write in why they wanted to save mountains.

We Need 86 Mountains Because

One passerby's idea

We handed out 250-300 flyers advising people to call Francisco Cruz, who reviews permits for clean water act violations, and tell him that no MTR should be permitted.

At one point Mr.Cruz’  secretary came out and talked to some of the activists.  She told us that we should not target him unless we knew of specific CWA violations, otherwise he could not do anything.  (Shouldn’t any MTR be a CWA violation???) she said instead we should contact someone in the office of surface mining in W. Virginia.

We eventually followed up on this point and found out that Mr.Cruz was not the correct person to contact, and have since changed targets.

Posted by: nocoalphilly | November 21, 2009

Philly activists participate in National Day of Action Against MTR

A coalition of groups including Energy Justice Network, Mountain Justice, United Mountain Defense and Student Environmental Action Coalition called for days of action at all 10 Environmental Protection Agency offices between Monday August 17 – Wednesday, August 19.

In Philly we had a small demonstration outside the Philly Region 3 EPA office on Tuesday, August 18th.  We handed out 160 flyers to people walking by, and spoke with 2 EPA employees.

epa protest 8.18

Our first EPA protest on 8.18

For more information about this national call to action, check out:

http://www.facebook.com/#/event.php?eid=135779815548&index=1

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