Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
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December 2010
Contents

Celebrating Victory: Patriot Coal Under Court Order to Reduce Selenium Discharges; Precedent-Setting Federal Ruling Could Bring More Pollution Reduction Orders Throughout WV
Members’ and Supporters’ Picnic Draws Enthusiastic Crowd  
Study of Energy Expansion Fund Mandated by WV Legislature
EPA’s Region III Wants Historic Veto of Spruce No. 1 Mine Permit
Motion to Intervene: Defending EPA from Mining Industry Interference
Shale Shocked: Groups Meet with DEP Over Fracking
DEP Says Major Plant A Minor Source of Air Pollution
End-of-Year Reminder
New Marsh Fork Elementary School Coming!
A Decade Later Slurry Disaster Still Impacts People’s Property and Lives
Join SSP’s Annual Legislative Kickoff Event
Sludge Safety Project Works on Your LOCAL Water Quality Issues
Eating For OVEC and Raising $$$
Bo Webb wins Purpose Prize
Seeking Rest for the Dead and Justice for the Living
Consol Settles With Fayette Group, Will Strengthen Pollution Controls
Living Below Mountaintop Removal, Dealing with DEP
Appalachia Rising Elevates the Movement to End MTR; OVEC Members Among Those Arrested In Front of the White House
Appalachia Rising
Taking the Word Right to the President
Poet and OVEC Member Bob Henry Baber
WV Council of Churches Holds Annual Dinner For Unity; Mattea Attends
Lindytown Almost Totally Gone
Coal Companies Ask WV, Feds to Change Selenium Limits
Human-Powered Transportation: It’s Critical, Political - And A Lot Healthier For You
Manchin, Beshear, Buddy Up With National Mining Assoc.
Scholars and Artists Launch National Campaign to Save Blair Mountain, Labor History Landmark, From Imminent Destruction
The Science is In, MTR Should Be Out
Update on Efforts to Preserve Blair Mountain
Imagine if Renewable Energy Tech Got The Same Treatment…
Wood Co. Commission Learns About MTR Impacts
Burning The Future goes On Tour to Eastern Europe and China
A Letter to the EPA from an OVEC Member
Sen. Rockefeller Sticking His Head in “Clean” Coal Sand
Outrageous Pork - You Betcha!
Bees’ Buzz: Mega-Poster That Shows True Cost of Coal Complete
Security on Kayford Mountain Improved After Incident 
Mountain Justice Summit on Kayford Includes Special Tree Planting
Miscellany 


For viewing the PDF version of the newsletter

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

Update on Efforts to Preserve Blair Mountain

In September, OVEC, the Sierra Club and the Friends of Blair Mountain filed a legal challenge to reverse the decision by the National Park Service to remove the Blair Mountain Battlefield from the National Register of Historic Places.

Filed in federal district court in Washington, DC, the lawsuit alleges that the decision to delist Blair Mountain the site of a famous 1921 battle in Logan County, WV, involving 10,000 coal miners and law enforcement officials clashing over the right to unionize was arbitrary, capricious and contrary to the National Park Services own regulations.

In 2006, Dr. Harvard Ayers, an Appalachian State University archeologist, found 15 different battle sites within the Blair Mountain Battlefield. "These sites are in danger of being permanently destroyed unless the Park Service returns Blair Mountain to the National Register," said Dr. Ayers. "Coal companies have acquired a portion of the battlefield and have shown their willingness to play hardball to keep the site open to surface mining despite the clear historic value of the Blair Mountain Battlesite."

In the fall of 1921, Blair Mountain was the site of the largest domestic insurrection in the nations post-Civil War history. Over a five-day period, fierce battles raged across the West Virginia mining region, pitting union miners against municipal authorities and private armies hired by local coal companies.

At the height of the conflict, private planes were used to drop homemade bombs on union supporters. For many, Blair Mountain symbolized the huge disparities in wealth and power in America during the industrial age.

"The Battle of Blair Mountain was fought by the United Mine Workers of America to make a better life for coal miners throughout southern West Virginia to see their legacy be destroyed is unacceptable," said Kenny King, a Logan County resident who has been working to save Blair Mountain for the past 20 years.

Blair Mountain was named by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of Americas 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2006, and the fight to save it has been ongoing.

The National Park Service first listed Blair Mountain in the National Register on March 30, 2009, without objections from a majority of property owners. By law, a site cannot be listed in the National Register if a majority of owners within the boundaries of the site file notarized objections to the listing.

Nine months later, the Park Service, responding to pressure from coal companies eager to strip-mine the site, altered the list of property owners, based on one-sided "corrections" presented by the coal companies, and decided that a small majority objected to listing the site.

On this basis, the Park Service removed Blair Mountain Battlefield from the National Register. OVEC, Sierra Club and the National Trust for Historic Preservation asked the Park Service to reconsider its decision because it did not follow applicable regulations in removing the site, but the agency declined to do so.

"We strongly support the lawsuit because we believe that de-listing Blair Mountain was a mistake that violates federal law," said Robert Nieweg, director of the Southern Field Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "The decision to remove Blair Mountain from the National Register has gravely endangered this important site because the National Register listing would qualify Blair Mountain for special protection under West Virginia law."

"The Blair Mountain Battlefield is one of West Virginias most valuable historical resources," said Brandon Nida, a local resident and West Virginia native. "In addition to the historical significance, the potential for heritage tourism and small-business growth from the sustainable development of Blair Mountain is enormous. But, due to the short-term goals of the coal industry, all this potential could be destroyed forever."

Recent reports that the West Virginia Office of Historic Preservation is initiating a plan to re-nominate Blair Mountain for listing on the National Register are too vague to provide any comfort, said Regina Hendrix, an OVEC board member and West Virginia Sierra Club member who was involved in the original National Register of Historic Places listing process for Blair Mountain.

"There is no need to spend time initiating a process to re-nominate Blair Mountain for the National Register since the original listing, which took more than 13 years from start to finish, was proper the first time around and should be reinstated. Its a significant waste of time and resources to start the nomination process all over again and unacceptable to leave the site unprotected while this lengthy process begins again."

Hendrix added, "Were now engaged in the second battle of Blair Mountain one to preserve it for future generations. The jail that held the pro-union coal miners after the Battle at Blair Mountain was listed on the National Register. Does it make sense to list the jail and blow away the battle site?"

The plaintiffs are represented by Washington, DC, attorney Andrea C. Ferster and Sierra Club senior attorney Aaron Isherwood.

For more information on Blair Mountain, see www.friendsofblairmountain.org/.

 

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