Coal River Mountain is ground zero for the clean energy revolution. It could be the site of a 328-megawatt wind farm that could power 70,000 West Virginia homes, provide permanent jobs, and generate $1.7 million per year for the county.
Or it could be bulldozed and converted into a 6,000-acre mountaintop coal mine.
Ironically, as millions of concerned citizens around the world rallied in support of a cleaner future, coal giant Massey Energy literally fired the opening salvos in the battle for Coal River Mountain. Grist reports:
In a blatant act of aggression against besieged coalfield residents, blasting dangerously close to one of the largest coal slurry impoundments in the nation, and immediately eliminating 24 megawatts of wind power development for the internationally acclaimed Coal River Wind Project, a subsidiary of Big Coal behemoth Massey Energy recently lay waste to the first acres of the 1,100-acre Bee Tree Branch section of a proposed 6,000-acre mountaintop removal operation designed to destroy the last in tact mountain on the historic Coal River Mountain range….
Last week, area residents also appealed to West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) to halt the blasting and order a state of emergency, in order to thoroughly investigate the catastrophic potential of the jeopardized Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment, which holds back billions of gallons of toxic coal sludge. Blasting is taking place within a dangerously close distance of honey-combed underground mines by the impoundment dam.
Residents noted that another Massey subsidiary in eastern Kentucky was responsible for the largest coal slurry spill in 2000, where 300 million gallons of toxic sludge into the area’s waterways and aquifers. If the earthen Brushy Fork dam breaks, nearly 1,000 area residents will have less than five minutes to save their lives.
Don’t lose sight of the scale of this issue. There is far more at stake than pristine hardwood forests. Those forests are the frontlines of the struggle between Big Energy profits and a clean future. Coal River Mountain has been shown to have wind resources as high as Class 7, the highest rating on the scale. The mountain is a symbol of hope for everyone who wants to see natural landscapes preserved, and even more so for those who look toward a future in which energy is generated responsibly.
And the blasting has already begun.
But there are still people with the power to stop it. Lisa Jackson, the EPA administrator, is one. You can ask her to intervene here. President Obama obviously has considerable influence as well.
It is time for us all to demand the change we were promised. We cannot drown out the voice of King Coal, but we can make sure that the Obama Administration hears our voices as well.
Last fall, thousands of people rallied under the “Yes We Can” banner. Now is the time for people across the political spectrum to take up that slogan again — and remind our leaders of their promises. If you care about a clean energy future for Appalachia and the entire nation, now is the time to speak for Coal River Mountain.
Here’s what you can do: Visit iLoveMountains.org to add your name to the growing movement and to sign up for updates. Contact President Obama today and ask him to continue his support for clean energy by saving Coal River Mountain.
This is a turning point for our sustainable future. We can move forward or we can remain in the Dark Ages, ruled by King Coal. The choice is ours. The stakes are high. And the time to act is now.