Archive for the 'Coal mining' Category

UK presents “balanced” look at coal in Kentucky

And now, from the people who last fall brought you a day-long forum on coal that featured people who are seldom in the same room together — a documentary called Coal in Kentucky.

It premieres at a free showing at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Kentucky Theatre in downtown Lexington.

The documentary was created by the University of Kentucky Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments, also known as the Vis Center, and the school’s Department of Mining. Funding came from the Kentucky Cabinet for Energy and Environment.

“In recent years, coal has become a polarizing topic with strong feelings on all sides,” producer Julie Martinez said. “Our goal for the documentary is to present a variety of viewpoints that can help Kentuckians understand the issues surrounding coal. The questions at hand are so critical for our state that it is crucial that we all join in the conversation.”

The trailer above includes some of the views presented in the documentary. They range from coalman Joe Craft to Jason Bailey of the Mountain Association for Community Development.

For more information and clips, go to

Hal Rogers takes House floor to attack “EPA’s War on Coal.”

Thanks to Phil Osborne of Lexington, director of the industry group FACES of Coal.

Old LBJ “Daisy” ad revived to fight mountaintop removal

The Alliance for Appalachia went back to the 1964 Johnson-Goldwater race to find inspiration for a new ad deploring mountaintop removal mining.

Lacking Johnson’s considerable war chest, the environmental group is asking for contributions to put the ad on airwaves across the nation.

Give it a look and see if you can tell who is narrating. (Hint: She loves UK basketball.)

Here’s where you learn more:

Protesters arrested at Massey meeting

Massey protest 5/18/10

Massey protest 5/18/10

This from the arrestees’ peeps:

Update: Two mountain justice supporters arrested at site of Massey Energy stockholder meeting with shouts, banner

“Massey: Stop Putting Profits Over People” said banner

Richmond, VA – Two activists were arrested at the location of the Massey Energy stockholders meeting after unfurling a banner from the mezzanine above the elegant grand foyer of the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia. The banner reads, “Massey: Stop Putting Profits Over People.” The arrests occurred toward the beginning of the meeting. The activists were reading an open letter (below) to Massey Energy demanding that the company cease mountaintop removal coal mining, a practice that is destroying central Appalachia. Several hundred mine workers and environmentalists are rallying outside the building on the street to demand that Massey Energy value mine safety.

The two individuals, Kate Finneran, 22, and Oscar Ramirez, 25, both members of the environmental group Rising Tide DC, were brought to Richmond City Jail at 501 North Ninth Street. According to Ramirez and Finneran, who were able to make phone calls from the jail, both were to be released this afternoon on their own reconnaissance and charged with a misdemeanor trespass charge.

“Coal mining is dangerous. It’s dangerous for our workers, dangerous for surrounding communities, and dangerous for the future of our planet. It’s time we move off of our dependency on coal and transition to a just, safe, clean energy future.” said Kate Rooth of Rising Tide DC. “Massey Energy is notorious not only for putting their bottom dollar over people’s safety, but for driving people out their communities and poisoning their drinking water.”

Massey, a company with a terrible track record of safety violations was also responsible for the April mine disaster at Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia which resulted in the death of 29 workers. In 2008, Massey made a $20 million settlement with the EPA for 4,500 Clean Water Act violations filed between 2000 and 2006. Now, in 2010, they are back in court for polluting America’s waterways again, this time for 971 Clean Water Act violations in 2008 and 2009.

The activists occupied the mezzanine level in the main foyer of the Jefferson Hotel and the banner they unfurled was a 10’ x 10’ hand-painted banner.

Over 500 mountains in the US have already been destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining.

For more information on mountaintop removal coal mining and Massey Energy, please see

# # #


Dear Massey Energy,

We interrupt this meeting of Massey Energy’s Shareholders in order to spotlight and oppose Massey’s terrible safety, environmental and human rights violations. It is our responsibility to stand in firm opposition to Massey’s corporate behavior. We are willing to face the legal consequences of our non-violent action, for we know we are not alone; millions in Appalachia and across the nation are coming to see Massey for what it is. Whether it is the mountains of Appalachia, the lives of underground miners deep inside them, or the wellbeing of communities living below, Massey continually puts profits over people. It is time for the people of Appalachia and America to reject Massey and work together to create something better in its place.

“Violations are, unfortunately, a normal part of the mining process,” Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey, has stated. In 2008, Massey made a $20 million settlement with the EPA for 4,500 Clean Water Act violations filed between the year 2000 and 2006. Now, in 2010, they are back in court for polluting America’s waterways again; this time for 971 Clean Water Act violations in 2008 and 2009. A 2006 fire at Massey’s Aracoma mine killed two workers. Massey settled wrongful death lawsuits for an undisclosed sum and paid civil and criminal penalties of $4.2 million. It is clear that neither the EPA, criminal, nor civil fines, can sufficiently motivate Massey, or Blankenship, to adopt a culture of responsibility in their business practices.

When it comes to mountaintop removal and coal sludge , there is no responsible course but to ban them entirely. Mountaintop removal is the practice of demolishing Appalachian peaks, in order to scrape out their coal seams. It fills neighboring valleys and streams with the resultant rubble, and damages the health of nearby communities. Coal sludge is the liquid byproduct of washing coal in a carcinogenic chemical bath to remove impurities, such as heavy metals including arsenic, mercury, lead, and others. We call for the abolition of both.

These two practices meet at Massey’s Brushy Fork sludge impoundment on Coal River Mountain.

The Brushy Fork Coal Sludge Impoundment is the tallest earthen dam in the Western Hemisphere, permitted to hold 9 billion gallons of sludge. Massey’s “sunny day” casualty estimation is that if the dam were to break, the flood would kill 998 Coal River Valley residents.

Coal sludge impoundments have failed in the past. A Massey-operated sludge impoundment in Martin County, KY broke in 2000, spilling 306 million gallons of toxic sludge into the tributaries of the Tug Fork, Big Sandy, and Ohio Rivers, killing wildlife, and contaminating 27,000 people’s drinking water. Brushy Fork sits above a honeycomb of abandoned underground room and pillar mines in which 31 pillars are of insufficient strength to reliably support the mine roof, let alone the mass of 9 billion gallons of sludge. Brushy Fork could also break through bottom failure, causing sludge to gush from abandoned mine entrances into the surrounding, populated valleys.

The peril of Brushy Fork is compounded by Massey’s mountaintop removal operations on the Bee Tree Permit , which surrounds the impoundment. Each day, Massey blasts within hundreds of yards of the impoundment. Every mine blast sends high and low frequency vibrations into the mountain. High frequency vibrations are the visible blast, launching fly rock and dust, and dissipate over a short distance. Low frequency vibrations, however, cause structural damages, often foundation cracks, miles from the blast site. Brushy Fork’s earthen dam structure is within hundreds of yards of blasting operations. Thousands of lives are at risk.

Massey must be stopped—that is why we are putting ourselves on the line today.

Shareholders – you have the power to intervene. Use your institutional power to demand Massey cease its mountaintop removal operations and production of coal slurry. Responsibly decommission the Brushy Fork Impoundment. Also, we ask that you join with the coalition of nine public institutional investors that are asking Massey to withhold support from Don Blankenship and Board of Directors Baxter F. Philips, Richard M. Gabrys, and Dan R. Moore “because they have failed to carry out their duties on the Safety, Environmental, and Public Policy Committee.”

Americans – coal from the mountains of Appalachia is burned all over the United States . It heats our homes, powers our factories, and illuminates our schools and offices. It is sometimes difficult connect one’s energy consumption to a struggle hundreds of miles away, but we urge you to take responsibility for that power and stand in solidarity with the people of Appalachia. We know that not everyone is able to put themselves at risk, but we firmly believe that all Americans can–and must– stand up and say: Massey Energy, Stop Putting Profits Before People!


People of the Earth and Appalachia

Environmental groups, paddlers challenge Kentucky mining permit


Here’s the press release:

ELKHORN CITY, KY The Sierra Club, Appalachian Citizens Law Center and Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, joined by outdoor enthusiasts and paddlers, are challenging a permit submitted by Cambrian Coal Corporation that would allow for a new surface coal mine near Elkhorn Creek in Pike County. Cambrian Coal proposes to discharge mining waste into tributaries of Elkhorn Creek, Marrowbone Creek and Pond Creek, all of which run into Russell Fork, a major destination for many paddlers.

“For the past 7 years, I have participated in the Russell Fork Whitewater Rendezvous,” said Bill Pierskalla, a Sierra Club member and whitewater paddler. “If the proposed mine goes forward, I am concerned that people like myself will stop visiting Elkhorn City and paddling Russell Fork out of concern that the mining has polluted the water beyond safe limits.”

According to the groups, the 791-acre Cambrian Coal surface mine would severely jeopardize creek quality as well as land preservation, making recreational use of the area a less attractive option for tourists.

Aquatic biologist, local resident James Stapleton said, “I grew up along Elkhorn Creek, Ive hiked and fished in that area for years. As a child I used to swim in the creek, but now I am concerned that surface mining in this area has started to degrade the water to an unsafe level.”

Recently the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new water conductivity standards in order to protect water and the health of surrounding communities. Water testing downstream of Cambrians existing mines in the area has found the water to be far above EPAs conductivity standards.

“I see no way this proposed mining operation could meet the requirements of the recent EPA guidance concerning conductivity. Already the area is above the recommended federal clean water standards,” said Rick Clewett of the Cumberland Sierra Club. “We should not be adding pollution to the area but cleaning it up. Additional mining could potentially eliminate the prospects for that community being able to succeed in their current efforts to develop and expand an economy based on water recreation and fishing.”

“Water is the back bone of our economy here in Elkhorn City. And at the end of the day, we need people to keep visiting our area to recreate and support our local businesses,” said Stapleton.

The Sierra Club is now taking legal action against Cambrian Coal to ensure that the affected waterways and community are protected from mine pollution. Attorney Mary Cromer with Appalachian Citizens Law Center is representing the Sierra Club.

Clean coal group says burying carbon would create jobs

Environmentalists scoff at the very idea of clean coal, and usually put the words in parentheses. But an industry group that touts it is out with a new study saying that catching and burying carbon dioxide would be good for the economy as well as the environment.

Here is the release:

WASHINGTON, DC – May 6, 2010 — The deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies at advanced coal facilities would create or support more than 6,900 jobs in Kentucky and more than 150,000 jobs nationally, according to a study released today by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE).

“Deploying carbon capture and storage makes good economic sense, by enhancing existing employment, and creating new well-paying jobs,” said Steve Miller, ACCCE President and CEO. “These technologies are critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

The study done for ACCCE by BBC Research & Consulting provides a state-by-state breakout of economic opportunities associated with commercial deployment of CCS projects at U.S. coal-based power plants. The state analysis is a follow-on study previously conducted by BBC for the Industrial Union Council, AFL-CIO; International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; the United Mine Workers; and ACCCE. The original 2009 study estimated the capital, operating and maintenance costs, jobs and other economic benefits associated with the deployment of advanced coal generation with CCS. This new study provides a more detailed look at where these jobs will be located.

“The use of CCS will also help to maintain access to affordable, reliable electricity from coal to power our economy and make it easier for working families to make ends meet,” added Miller.

The study found that construction of three advanced coal facilities with CCS in Kentucky would support a total of about 78,000 job years1 between now and 2025 in various sectors. Upon completion, the new facilities would create 6,900 permanent jobs in the state. However, the study does not take into account jobs that could be lost as a result of climate change legislation or regulation.

Nationally, the deployment of CCS could serve as an immediate and long-term economic stimulus. About 1.7 million direct job years of labor would be necessary to construct 124 new facilities by 2025. These facilities would then create and support more than 150,000 permanent jobs.

For more information, or to view the complete study, please visit

If you can’t get enough argument about coal, tune in Tuesday afternoon

It’s the Sierra Club v. Peabody Energy Tuesday night in what is being billed as “The Great Coal Debate.”

It is being billed as “a moderated discussion between two influential participants in the development of our future energy economy.”

WHO: Fred Palmer, Senior Vice President of Government Relations at Peabody Energy
Bruce Nilles, Deputy Conservation Director for the Sierra Club
Moderator: Bryan Walsh, Environmental Correspondent for TIME Magazine

WHERE: Graham Chapel, Washington University in St. Louis, Danforth Campus

WHEN: Tuesday, April 27, 5 pm (Doors open at 4:30 pm)

To watch:
The discussion will be will be streamed live via

Kentucky Coal Association: Bible backs mountaintop removal mining

Herald-Leader reporter Dori Hjalmarson found this on the Kentucky Coal Association Web site while looking up something else.

Mixing Religion and Mining

Under most circumstances, we are of the opinion religion should not play a role in political debate. Recently, however, we’ve learned some religious leaders are railing against mountaintop mining and, as we hear it, invoking the Almighty to bring an end to the mining method.

While these folks are certainly within their right to do so, it made us wonder, should we call for the same help to continue this mining practice, which is, after all, a temporary use of the land? Mountaintop mining employs thousands of people and makes it possible for them to provide for their households, (see 1 Timothy 5:8, below). It also can spur economic development, creating even more jobs in areas where people desperately need work. The reclaimed flat land is and can be used for building factories, schools, recreational and tourist-based businesses, and housing in areas where flat land is a premium and land development costs very high.

We, therefore, even though reluctant to inject them into the debate, enter this scriptural citations for reflection:

“Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; The rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all mankind shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:4-5, (New American Bible)

To see more, go here:

Coal company says it reported mistakes

But environmental groups say that didn’t mean law wasn’t broken.

By Andy Mead
Environmental groups say they have found another coal mining company that has disturbed Eastern Kentucky streams without getting federal permits.

In a letter to West Virginia-based Frasure Creek Mining Co., the Sierra Club and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth said the company illegally dumped dirt and rock into streams at mountaintop-removal mines in Floyd, Magoffin and Pike counties.

Gina Sorice, a spokeswoman for Frasure Creek, said the company realized a year ago that it didn’t have the required permits and reported each case to either the Army Corps of Engineers office in Louisville or Huntington, W.Va.

The environmental groups found a similar case at a mine in Pike County two years ago.

In the current case, the groups said, state inspectors visited the mines in September and issued notices of non-compliance but took no enforcement action.

“This kind of behavior (by the mining company) not only affects the people who live near the mines,” said Lane Boldman, who is mountaintop-removal mining chair for the Cumberland Chapter of the Sierra Club. “It affects everyone downstream.”

The alleged illegal mining came to light after environmental groups heard a rumor about it, Boldman said. They obtained records of the Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement inspections and notices through the state Open Records Act.

Carol Labashosky, a spokeswoman for the Corps office in Louisville, said the company did report it was working in a stream in Pike County without a permit. The company was ordered to stop, and that case has been turned over to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, she said.

She said her office had no records of permit applications for filling streams at the Magoffin or Floyd county mines.

Sorice said the mistakes at those mines were reported to Huntington. Peter Morgan, a Sierra Club attorney, said his research showed that all three mine permits were being administered out of the Louisville office.

But even if Frasure Creek did report its mistake, that doesn’t absolve it of guilt, he said.

“Our concern is there has been no enforcement action brought against them,” Morgan said. “The Clean Water Act provides for penalties for every day of an ongoing violation.”

Dick Brown, a spokesman for the state, said that inspectors had continued to check on the mines, and nothing had changed around the springs since September.

“The department has been diligent in inspecting each of the permits identified in the letter and will continue to routinely monitor them,” he said.

In 2008, members of the two environmental groups were looking for a spot in Pike County where a company had applied for a permit to mine. They found that mining was already taking place.

Clintwood Elkhorn Mining, a subsidiary of TECO Energy, said it already had discovered its mistake and reported it to the Army Corps of Engineers. But a year later, the company paid $250,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the environmentalists.

Reach Andy Mead at (859) 231-3319 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3319.

Groups say mining is happening without a permit — again.

Here’s the release:

Company Mining Without Proper Permits, Three Kentucky Streams Destroyed

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC) and the Sierra Club have put the Frasure Creek Mining company on notice for destroying streams at three mountaintop removal coal mines in eastern Kentucky without permits to do so. The groups have evidence that the company is conducting mining operations despite the fact that applications for permits for all three mines have not gone through a complete review process by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The federal agencies are required to review the permits to make sure the mining activity does not “result in significant harm to water quality and the environment.” Frasure Creek has not provided proof that its operations will not cause such harm.

“When you live here, you know that many coal companies mine as outlaws without regard to public health or safety. They regularly violate the law, often with little no cost to the company,” said KFTC member Doug Doerrfeld. “This shirking the law is part of the standard operating procedure around here, but that is going to change – we will hold these companies to their word and to the law

The Clean Water Act was designed to protect the health and safety of waterways and communities, but evidence of such flagrant disregard for the law can be seen across Appalachia. Earlier this year Clintwood Elkhorn, a TECO Coal subsidiary, agreed to pay $250,000 to fund stream restoration projects after the Sierra Club and KFTC discovered that the company was operating a mountaintop removal mine without a permit in Pike County, Kentucky. The problem of unlawful unpermitted mining is believed to be widespread, and state and federal agencies routinely fail to hold offenders fully accountable.

“This kind of behavior not only affects the people who live near the mines. It affects everyone downstream. These headwater streams feed the waterways that are a major source of water for most of the state,” said Lane Boldman, Mountaintop Removal Mining Chair for the Cumberland Chapter of the Sierra Club.

The illegal stream destruction occurred at Frasure Creek’s mines in Floyd, Magoffin and Pike counties. The company has constructed at least three valley fills and eight sediment holding ponds in streams, in spite of federal concern about water pollution at the sites and without necessary approval.

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