Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Archive list of "E"- Notes newsletters

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March 2010
Contents

Coalfield Residents and Scientists Meet with Governor
A Victory in Fayette County
Carol Warren: Living the Dream of World Peace
EPA Approves Hobet 45 Mine
Sludge Safety Project Legislative Update
MTR Disproportionately Impacting Low-Income Americans
Before I Was Hungry
Coal Going Down, Naturally
Lindytown Twilight-ed into Darkness
Holding Government Accountable: Meetings, Meetings, Meetings
No CONSOL-A-Tion, Workers Misled About Possible Job Losses?
West Virginias Greatest Resource: Water
Alert Residents Contact DEP About Spill in Area Creek
WV Council of Churches Sets Legislative Agenda
Blair Mountains Historical Status Revoked, Group Will Appeal
Cemetery Protection Bills Introduced At Session
Supreme Court Ruling Makes Clean Elections Work Even More Important
The More Things Change ... Granny D on Campaign Finance Reform
20 - 30 Years of Surface Mining Left
Clean Elections Advance in West Virginia
OVEC Files Notice of Intent to Sue Massey Energy Over Water Violations
Coal-to-Liquid Plant: Jobs Over Health and Water?
End DC-Style Business As Usual Join Us in A New Campaign
Ken Do! Hechler Honored
We Hereby Resolve to Make a Difference
Meeting with the Governor and Kathy Mattea
Hundreds Rally at DEP For The Mountains
Organizing for the Mountains in Mercer County
Going Solar in Roane County - Off-Grid is Good
Watch It, Read It, Groove To It All to Protect It
Global Warming / Climate Instability in the Mountain State
Study: Mountaintop Mining Damage Pervasive and Irreversible
Eating For OVEC Keeps Raising $$$
Coal Company Depredations Endanger WV Family Cemeteries, Part Two
Byrds Words Rock the Coalfield Status Quo
Byrd - Old Senator, New Tricks Has King Coal Confused
A Yell Out to Yale
Standing Our Ground


For viewing the PDF version of the newsletter

 
Winds of Change Newsletter, March 2010     See sidebar for table of contents

Organizing for the Mountains in Mercer County

by Wendy Moye Johnston

My fight to save the mountains of my home from mountaintop removal coal mining began in March 2009, when a local company tried to quietly gain approval for a surface mine site in the small Mercer County, WV, community of Weyanoke.

I soon found out that this company had been operating a strip mine several miles from Weyanoke on the Browning Lambert Mountain near Matoaka.

To my knowledge, there is no other current mining in Mercer County. Not knowing about such things or how to fight them, my family and I felt quite alone and bewildered as to what to do about this situation. I grew up in Matoaka and my parents still live in the area, approximately 1.5 aerial miles from the proposed mine site.

The community impact statement for Weyanoke Surface Mine S400409 stated that MET Resources, LLC had requested a permit for the surface disturbance of approximately 173 acres above the community of Weyanoke for the purpose of highwall, auger, steep slope and surface coal mining. After doing some amateur community organizing, with the help of folks from Mountain Justice, Coal River Mountain Watch, OVEC and others, we requested a public hearing to voice our concerns.

We were told to watch the paper for an advertisement for public comment. This began appearing in the Princeton Times in September of 2009. The Princeton Times is a small paper with minimal circulation, and it does not reach the people of Weyanoke and Matoaka. The Bluefield Daily Telegraph is the Times parent paper and does have countywide circulation. When I questioned the DEP in Welch about this practice, I was told that they knew that it wasnt really fair but that it was within the guidelines of the law. MET Resources, LLC stated later that the Princeton Times was a cheaper place to print the announcement.

I knew that the people of Weyanoke and Matoaka didnt know about this situation, so my father Sid Moye and I set out knocking on doors. We were met by people who were dismayed and terribly upset that they had not been notified of the permit request.

Only about half of the people who live in this community had been notified of impending work to be done on the mountain above their home. The number-one concern of these people was their water. The community of Weyanoke has always obtained its water from an abundant source on the mountain, which is now threatened with blasting.

We were granted our public hearing on November 17, 2009. When we arrived, there were approximately 100 people at the town hall of Matoaka. Some of them were owners, interest holders, and/or employees of MET Resources, LLC. The others were activists, concerned Mercer County citizens, and the people who live in Weyanoke.

The moderator from the Welch office of the WV DEP allowed everyone who wanted to speak both for and against the proposed site the opportunity to speak.

Over and over, we heard people asking to be reassured about their water source and about large machines and trucks traveling on their inadequate roads and asking why the information about this was not made available to everyone who would be affected.

The mine owner spoke and assured folks that they would not be doing mountaintop removal*; they would only be ridding the area of dangerous high walls caused by illegal strip mining in the 1950s and it would in no way affect their water. As of early February 2010, this permit had not yet been approved.

We have also spoken out against proposed additions to the existing strip mine operation on Browning Lambert Mountain and were granted a hearing for this on Dec. 3, 2009.

* Note: Many coal mining companies now use other names for what we know as mountaintop removal mining.

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