FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 15, 2008
Janet Keating, Executive Director, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, 304-522-0246
Vernon Haltom, Co-Director, Coal River Mountain Watch, 304-854-2182
Cindy Rank, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, 304-924-5802
Oliver Bernstein, Sierra Club, 512-477-2152
Community Members Want “Green Jobs” AND Clean Water for Families
Hobet 22 Strip Mine a Step Backward for Communities and Workers
HUNTINGTON, WV — In the wake of a new mountaintop removal permit, several community organizations have vowed to continue supporting and protecting communities affected by irresponsible strip mining. The groups contend that expanded mountaintop removal coal mining at the Hobet 21 mine in Boone and Lincoln counties would be another step backward for communities and that a clean energy future with long-term, sustainable “green jobs” is possible.
The U.S. District Court granted a temporary restraining order on August 11, putting a stop to mine expansion at adjacent “Hobet 22.” The order expires next week, and a hearing on August 20 in Huntington will determine whether additional, destructive mining will be allowed.
“Clean, safe water is a requirement not only for healthy people and communities, but for sustainable, economic growth for future generations. If our government will not look out for the long-term economic health and prosperity of southern West Virginia, then the citizens will be the leaders on this issue,” said Janet Keating, Executive Director of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC).
Mountaintop removal mining operations such as Hobet’s have resulted in consistent job loss across the state of West Virginia. From 1950 to 2004, coal production has remained steady, and in some years increased, yet jobs have declined dramatically. Rather than provide citizens with jobs, mining companies now rely on large machinery to replace workers. Direct mining jobs have fallen by 87%, from 119,500 in 1950 to 16,000 in 2004. Just since 1990, the number of mining jobs has decreased 45% due to mechanization.
“Mining jobs in West Virginia are not disappearing because of environmental regulation but because coal companies looking to improve their bottom line have replaced miners with heavy machinery and explosives,” said Cindy Rank with the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.
The proposed “Hobet 22” mine expansion would generate about 30.5 million cubic yards of mining waste and would permanently eliminate 4.2 miles of streams, destroying miles of habitat for fish and other aquatic life.
“West Virginians deserve a new, sustainable economy that will create lasting jobs and growth opportunities,” said Vernon Haltom, Co-Director of Coal River Mountain Watch. “West Virginia’s wind potential and chance at becoming a renewable energy leader will be lost as a result of continued, short-term mining operations such as this one. Projects such as the proposed Coal River Mountain wind farm are the future of the state.”
Data from mountaintop removal mine permits show that this destructive form of mining will only provide jobs and energy for another few years. When not strip mined, West Virginia’s mountains are home to some of the country’s best wind power potential, an energy source that will provide power for the foreseeable future.
Mountaintop removal mining is a destructive form of coal mining that has already buried more than 1,200 miles of streams and threatens to destroy 1.4 million acres of land by 2020. The mining poisons drinking water, lays waste to wildlife habitat, increases the risk of flooding and wipes out entire communities. For more information, visit: