US Senate Takes On Mountaintop Removal

Well, the roller coaster to end mountaintop removal has yet to end.  Tuesday afternoon, the media exploded with the news that the EPA was putting a freeze on new valley fill permits — then a few hours later we learned they were only looking at the permits.  Which, as other have said,  is still a point for celebration — even if it is pathetic we have to celebrate the fact that the government is going to start thinking about maybe following the law regarding mountaintop removal.  

This didn’t stop the coal industry from dissolving into a quivering mass of hysteria,  which included grandstanding from politicans, inspired some impressive  yellow journalism and of course the industry threatened to lay off every miner and everyone who ever thought about mining and practically eveyone who  has an “m” in their job title for good measure.  

It also inspired some very helpful and inspiring writing – noting that this decision isn’t a threat to Appalachia, it’s an opportunity to re-build and diversify our economy with safe green jobs — with 60,000 new jobs in Appalachia from energy efficiency alone!

And the excitement continues: Yesterday a Senate equivalent of the Clean Water Protection Act was introduced — wonderful news–and thanks to all the lobbyists at the End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington last week.  Stay tuned for updates.  Press release and full bill below. 

Continue reading ‘US Senate Takes On Mountaintop Removal’

Mountain Top Removal Bummer Correction

It saddens me to post a correction here — the AP stories and hundreds of news stories were overstating the victory against mountaintop removal yesterday. And they still are this morning, actually.  What really happened is the EPA took action to put on hold two valley fill permits and indicated that hundreds of other pending applications would come under much more strict review.

That’s right, “review” not “moratorium.” 

The confusion is so big the EPA put out this grumpy little press release–here’s a depressing clip for you:

EPA will take a close look at other permits that have been held back because of the 4th Circuit litigation. We fully anticipate that the bulk of these pending permit applications will not raise environmental concerns. 

You can still call the White House and leave a message thanking President Obama for taking this important first step and then ask for a real moratorium on these permits.   202-456-1111

EPA Puts Halt on Mountaintop Removal Permits

Call the White House and say thanks! They need your support! 1 (202)-456-1111 The coal thugs will be angry.

Amazing news for people whose homes were facing mountaintop removal mining — and a big win for those following the Coal River Wind Project.

As you may know, the 4rth Circuit Court made a horrible decision back in February and opened up hundreds of permits and over 200 miles of streams for destruction from mountaintop removal. Well, after a month of citizens lobbying them, the EPA has told the Army Corps to back off our streams — for now. Read on, my friends.

EPA halts hundreds of mountaintop mining permits

By DINA CAPPIELLOWASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is putting on hold hundreds of mountaintop coal-mining permits until it can evaluate the projects’ impacts on streams and wetlands.

The decision was announced Tuesday by EPA administrator Lisa Jackson. It targets a controversial practice by coal mining companies that dump waste from mountaintop mining into streams and wetlands.

It could delay more than a hundred permits being sought by companies wanting to begin blasting mountaintops to access coal.

Continue reading ‘EPA Puts Halt on Mountaintop Removal Permits’

Saving Appalachia’s Streams in DC!

Update: Call in Today! Click here to be connected to your Representative right now. Support the Clean Water Protection Act.

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day over 130 citizen lobbyists from across the US are working to keep our beloved Appalachian Mountains green. With perfect timing, there was a fabulous Op Ed on the need for Obama to take action on mountaintop removal in the NY Times this morning.
We’re here to support the Clean Water Protection Act, HR 1310 –which would stop mining companies from dumping millions of town of blown up mountaintop removal wasted into our streams.
We’ve hit the ground running with appointments beginning at 9 am this morning — a good thing too, since we have over 100 lobby visits scheduled this week.
If they haven’t — you should call in tomorrow, St. Patricks Day, on our national call in day to keep Appalachia’s Mountains Green! 

Say It Ain’t So, Congressman Markey!

By Carrie at The CLEAN cross posted from Today, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment held hearings on “The Future of Coal in Climate Legislation.” Considering that the Subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Ed Markey, who fired up the crowd at Powershift with his talk about “change, baby, change” and a “green revolution,” one might have hoped that these hearings would be a critical look at our dirtiest fuel source. Yeah, not so much. 

Of all the legislators and witnesses who spoke, NOT ONE of them spoke out against our reliance on coal in our energy future. Markey sang a very different tune than the one at Powershift as he expressed his support of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and wanting to help industry “realize its potential” to help global warming.

What happened to the champion of renewable energy we saw at the DC Convention Center? Investing America’s research dollars into unproven, expensive coal technology instead of renewables is a “green revolution?”  In fact, the consensus among the Representatives who spoke was that coal is abundant, cheap and vital for our future, and that developing carbon capture and sequestration technology is essential to solve our climate crisis. The only discussion was how quickly can we do it, when will it be ready and how much will it cost?

If this concerns you, email Markey here. 

Continue reading ‘Say It Ain’t So, Congressman Markey!’

Pennsylvania Coal Ash Spill Headed for Washington DC

More Breaking News: 

The New York Times ran a story  this morning saying “Major Damage averted” because “the bulk of the sludge spilled onto the West Virginia riverbank.” I get it that you don’t want sludge in a watershed that provides for millions of people, but I thought it was a nice example of environmental injustice and a total lack of analysis of why coal ash is bad.  My guess is people in that community in West Virginia don’t think major damage was averted — and no one has mentioned the repository in West Virginia they are pumping this coal ash into.  If they are still pumping that coal ash, we haven’t averted major damage. 

Breaking News in this edition of “As the Sludge Turns”:

The Maryland Department of the Environment  reported that a ruptured pipeline carrying wet coal ash into West Virginia sprung a leak and released 4,000 gallons of the toxic soup into the North Branch of the Potomac River, in Allegheny County, PA.

It is “only” 4,000 gallons (compared to over a billion in TN), but it would be impacting people in Washington DC, which as you know, is a place where very important people live.  Luckily the Obama Administration just announced plans to propose federal regulations for coal waste–but maybe this will spring them to action a little faster. 

NRDC is working to track the spill on their blog. 

Now we just need to make sure the media doesn’t forget to worry about the community in West Virginia that they were pumping that toxic coal ash slurry into when they had their spill.

Volunteer Arrested at TVA Disaster Site for Driving Grandmas Home

Speaking of getting arrested to stop coal, apparently 3,000 blocking the streets of DC doesn’t scare the government but one volunteer driving home a granny does.  Head to the March 14th March against TVA, to show TVA that this is unacceptable.  Remember, TVA is a government run company. 

On Thursday, March 5 United Mountain Defense member Matt Landon was arrested by TVA police while giving a ride home to an elderly disabled Swan Pond resident, Eva Hewitt.  The two were returning from the Tennessee Environmental and Conservation public meeting held earlier that day where Eva was one of several community members who spoke at a citizen’s press conference about health concerns relating to the TVA disaster.

Continue reading ‘Volunteer Arrested at TVA Disaster Site for Driving Grandmas Home’

Powering Past Coal

power-past-coal-action Power Past Coal…not just words on a placard.  Hundreds joined together for strategy sessions during Powershift to talk about how they can take action in their community to Power Past Coal — a grassroots effort to have more than 100 actions against coal and for a better future during the first 100 Days of the Obama administration — and on into the future.

So about those signs you held on Monday. The ones you had to grip so hard that your knuckles went stiff and numb in the cold. The ones with the sunburst, a young Rosie-the-riveter, and the words “Power Past Coal” boldly stenciled across the top. Those words you saw hovering above the thousands that gathered for the Capitol Climate Action are more than just a sweet phrase. They evoke a feeling of power – the power of the people – to take bold action in a positive direction, away from coal. Continue reading ‘Powering Past Coal’

From West Virginia to Obama: STOP MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL

This powerful letter has been criss-crossing its way across the internet–and I wanted to make sure folks got a chance to read it. This letter comes right before Powershift — where folks will have a chance to lobby for the Clean Water Protection Act — which would ban the dumping of mountaintop removal waste (aka exploded mountains) into streams.  For more information on Bo’s community visit and to support the Clean Water Protection Act and find out if your community uses mountaintop removal mined coal, visit

Dear President Obama,

As I write this letter, I brace myself for another round of nerve-wracking explosives being detonated above my home in the mountains of West Virginia. Outside my door, pulverized rock dust, laden with diesel fuel and ammonium nitrate explosives hovers in the air, along with the residual of heavy metals that once lay dormant underground.

The mountain above me, once a thriving forest, has been blasted into a pile of rock and mud rubble. Two years ago, it was covered with rich black topsoil and abounded with hardwood trees, rhododendrons, ferns and flowers. The understory thrived with herbs such as ginseng, black cohosh, yellow root and many other medicinal plants. Black bears, deer, wild turkey, hawks, owls and thousands of [other] birds lived here. The mountain contained sparkling streams teeming with aquatic life and fish.

Now it is all gone. It is all dead. I live at the bottom of a mountain-top-removal coal-mining operation in the Peachtree community.

Mr. President Obama, I am writing you because we have simply run out of options. Last week, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court in Richmond, Va., overturned a federal court ruling for greater environmental restrictions on mountaintop-removal permits. Dozens of permits now stand to be rushed through. As you know, in December, the EPA under George W. Bush allowed an 11th-hour change to the stream buffer zone rule, further unleashing the coal companies to do as they please.

During your presidential campaign, you declared: “We have to find more environmentally sound ways of mining coal than simply blowing the tops off mountains.”

That time is now. Or never.

Continue reading ‘From West Virginia to Obama: STOP MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL’

Ashley Judd and 1,000 Best Friends Say, “No More Mountaintop Removal”

“Not One More Mile!” Over 1400 miles of streams have been destroyed because of mountaintop removal, and Kentuckians For The Commonwealth gathered hundreds  in Frankfort, KY today to draw a line in the sand and say, “Not one more mile!”

A full count of the numbers attending isn’t in yet, but the AP is buzzing with the news that Eastern Kentucky native and world famous actress came out vehemently against mountaintop removal today at the I Love Mountains Rally.  Keep an eye out for the youtube version of her powerful speech, which calls out the coal industry for it’s systematic oppression of Eastern Kentucky and mocks the hysteria and lies and misinformation the coal industry is spewing forth.

Not One More Mile!

Another high point, for me, was the children leading the chants as we marched to the statehouse. “Save Our Mountains! Not one more mile!”

Feel like you missed out on something incredible? Does Ashley Judd inspire you to action? Head over to and see how you can contact Congress and Obama about ending mountaintop removal — and learn about attending the End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington March 14-18th.


Dana works on the national council of the Student Environmental Action Coalition in Charleston, WV Visit She likes to make papier mache stuff with five year olds. She likes mountains that haven't been blown all to hell. She likes communities that fight back when their mountains have been blown all to hell. She doesn't like coal, or blowing up mountains. She especially doesn't like (not so) Clean Coal (no such thing) and thinks Carbon Sequestration is a bad deal for communities and kids. And really, who else matters?

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