After Long Campaign, West Virginia DEP Shuts Down Mountaintop Removal Mine Near State Forest

Posted Aug. 31, 2016

MP3 Excerpt of speech by Chad Cordell, coordinator of the Kanawha Forest Coalition, recorded and produced by Melinda Tuhus

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The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection hardly ever turns down a permit application for companies seeking to conduct mountaintop removal coal mining. That's the extraction process in which a company literally blows the top off of a mountain ridge to mine the coal seams beneath. Debris is often dumped into the valleys below, which thus far has smothered more than 1,500 miles of streams.

But West Virginia’s DEP recently signed an unprecedented consent decree with Keystone Development, a subsidiary of the Florida-based Keystone Industries, to permanently stop mountaintop removal mining at the KD#2 strip mine located on the outskirts of Charleston, West Virginia's capital. The site is adjacent to a state forest popular with residents for hiking and other recreational activities.

The mine was initially approved by the DEP in May 2014, for strip mining and explosive blasting within 600 feet of the Kanawha State Forest and within 1,500 feet of homes in the nearby holler. The Kanawha Forest Coalition was formed by local residents early in 2014 to protect their community from the impacts of the 413-acre Keystone Development #2 surface mine. Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus recently visited West Virginia and attended the coalition’s victory rally on Aug. 23. Here, Coalition Coordinator Chad Cordell traces the history of the campaign to close down the mine.

For more information about the group and growing opposition to mountaintop removal coal mining visit Kanawha Forest Coalition's website at kanawhaforestcoalition.org and on Facebook at facebook.com/kanawhaforestcoalition.

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