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Kanawha Forest Coalition Will Deliver Petitions to the Governor’s Office
The WV Department of Environmental Protection issued a surface mining permit on May 5, allowing Keystone Coal to blast off more than 400 acres of forested mountaintop. The petitioners are insisting that the permit be revoked because of the potential damage to nearby communities and to the ecology of the 9,300-acre Kanawha State Forest. The permit allows Keystone to use explosives to mine within 588 feet of the Forest and to restrict public access to roads, trails, and shooting range within the Forest for the next ten years. In addition, the company will be blasting within 1,500 feet of people’s homes in the community of Loudendale.
Daile Boulis is a resident of Loudendale, and her home, located within 1,500 feet of the blasting, is one of the six on Middlelick Branch on well water. She said, “It's difficult. We’ve seen what mountaintop removal does to well water and communities. We've lost homes and businesses to floods. This company has a history of violations and has already been in violation on this mine. We’re scared.”
On July 15, the WVDEP issued an imminent harm cessation order on the KD#2 mine due to significant drainage and sediment control structure violations directly upstream of Loudendale and Kanawha State Forest. Operations have since resumed. The company’s existing surface mining operations on nearby Rush Creek have received numerous water quality, blasting, reclamation, and drainage control violations in recent years. In addition, the Kanawha Forest Coalition asserts that the DEP improperly issued the KD#2 permit without the approval of the State Historic Preservation office as required by state law.
Chad Cordell, of the Kanawha Forest Coalition, said, “We are calling on Governor Tomblin and the WV DEP to take responsibility for improperly and illegally issuing the KD#2 permit. It’s bad enough that the DEP chose to allow blasting so close to our State Forest and so close to people’s homes. The fact that they issued this permit illegally is simply inexcusable. Governor Tomblin needs to instruct the DEP to immediately and permanently revoke this permit.”
Members of the Kanawha Forest Coalition include residents of Loudendale; Mt. Alpha; South Hills; Kanawha City; East End, West Side; other neighborhoods and towns in the region; Keepers of the Mountains Foundation; Coal River Mountain Watch; The Sierra Club; OVEC (Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition); WV C.A.R.E. Campaign (Citizen Action for Real Enforcement); individual members of the Kanawha Forest Foundation; the Kanawha Trail Club, and the Sustainable Business Council.