Residents living near the Spruce No. 1 mine in West Virginia say that mining operations have continued unabated despite the EPA’s December decision to veto the mine’s permit.
The mine was the largest mountain top removal operation ever approved, covering an area larger than Pittsburgh. In its decision, the EPA cited the Clean Water Act, stating “discharges associated with the DA Permit in Pigeon Roost Branch, Oldhouse Branch and their tributaries will have unacceptable adverse effects on wildlife.”
It’s sad that the EPA refused to acknowledge the similar effects the mine would have on humans living in the area–effects that have continued despite revocation of the permit.
Climate Ground Zero (CGZ) recently spoke with resident James “Jimmy” Weekley, who has lived on the upper reaches of Pigeon Roost Branch for all of his 71 years, his family having moved here in 1734. He was a UMWA member and an underground miner for 15 years.
From his property, Weekley has a unique view on mining operations, and told CGZ reporters that if anything, they’ve only expanded since the veto.
“They are going forward as if the permit hadn’t been denied,” said Weekley. “They are moving in a dragline in now in pieces and have already run the power lines for it. They are doing it as fast as they can.”
Lawyers working with the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment are looking into Weekley’s complaint to see if he has any legal options to stop the work…even though the EPA should be enforcing their own decision.
Read more about Weekley’s story on Climate Ground Zero.
Email EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and tell her to inforce her agency’s decisions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image: Mountain top removal site near Rawl, West Virginia
Image Credit: ilovemountains.org