Quantcast

Appalachians Rally in DC to Demand Clean Water and an End to Mountaintop Removal

Energy

Appalachia Rising

Citizens from across the country traveled to the nation’s capitol today to urge an end to mountaintop removal coal mining, a radical form of strip mining in Appalachia that has destroyed more than 500 mountains and buried or poisoned more than 2,000 miles of streams in Central Appalachia.

Today, dozens of Appalachians brought hundreds of gallons of toxic water from their homes to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC, demanding clean water and an end to mountaintop removal coal mining.

Citizens met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill as well as the Obama Administration agencies. This year they collected toxic water from their home communities, and brought containers of it to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Citizens of Appalachia are sat on the U.S. EPA steps to demand that the EPA accept the water and acknowledge their demand for stronger water quality rules. There are more than 100 gallons of brown, black and red water that have been collected from water sources in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky.

“We want to show them exactly what the water situation is in the Appalachian region. This is what people deal with coming out of their faucets. We are being asked to use toxic water for drinking, washing and cooking,” said Laura Miller, who traveled from southwestern Virginia.

Citizens hope that bringing the dirty water to the EPA will alert agency officials to the urgency of toxic water in their communities. More than 20 peer-reviewed studies have shown devastating health impacts. Citizens near mountaintop removal are 50 percent more likely to die of cancer and 42 percent more likely to be born with birth defects compared with other people in Appalachia.

“There is no longer the luxury of time—we need the EPA to act now because people are sick and dying now,” said Dustin White, community organizer with Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC) who traveled from West Virginia.

Water contamination from surface mining is widespread throughout the Appalachian region and state regulatory agencies continue to allow companies to further destroy water resources. In southern West Virginia alone, more than 22 percent of the streams can be classified as impaired under state guidelines due to surface mining. The state governments have lied about the widespread pollution and continually fail to hold the coal companies accountable.

In a response to the state governments’ willful neglect to protect these waterways, a host of organizations, many represented in Washington this week, are petitioning the EPA for a rule-making that would set a water quality standard on mountaintop removal pollution.

“Sometimes the water runs orange, and you wouldn’t want to touch it, much less drink it. But what’s more dangerous is when toxic water from your tap looks and smells totally fine," said Josh May of Magoffin County, KY, a member of the Stay Together Appalachian Youth (STAY) Project. "People sometimes drink it for years without knowing that they’re drinking toxic water and that’s what’s making them sick. We are bringing this water to the EPA as a way of holding them accountable. We’re having them sign for it so that they can formally acknowledge the problems that we’re living with everyday in the mountains.”

Citizen pressure for the EPA to increase action on the issue comes shortly after Senators introduced legislation that would limit EPA’s authority to protect Appalachia’s water quality. An appeals court recently overturned a lower court ruling, affirming the EPA’s power to retroactively veto the Corps’ mountaintop removal pollution permits. This ruling revokes a permit that would have buried nearly seven miles of streams at a 2,300-acre mountaintop removal mine in Logan County, WV.

“We are here today to stand up for Appalachia, but the struggle for safe environment crosses all boundaries. Our fight is the one and the same as the Navajo Dine’ resisting coal mining on Black Mesa and inner-city communities of color fighting coal-fired power plants. Everyone deserves clean air and water,” said White.

This event comes at the end of several days of meeting with numerous agencies in the Obama Administration as well as Congressional offices, where citizens encouraged lawmakers to support the Clean Water Protection Act, a bill which would enact some basic protections for Appalachian streams.

This year's event was the eighth annual trip to Washington, D.C. In 2012, dozens of citizens took part in sit-ins in their legislators offices demanding that they take action to end mountaintop removal and protect citizen health. Twenty-one people were arrested as a result of the sit-ins last year.

Visit EcoWatch’s MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL page for more related news on this topic.

——–

Click here to tell Congress to Expedite Renewable Energy.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Scanning electron micrograph of Yersinia pestis, which causes bubonic plague, on proventricular spines of a Xenopsylla cheopis flea. NIAID / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A middle-aged married couple in China was diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a highly infectious disease similar to bubonic plague, which ravaged Europe in the middle ages, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Milk made from almonds, oats and coconut are among the healthiest alternatives to cow's milk. triocean / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.

Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Greta Thunberg stands aboard the catamaran La Vagabonde as she sets sail to Europe in Hampton, Virginia, on Nov. 13. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP via Getty Images

Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist whose weekly school strikes have spurred global demonstrations, has cut short her tour of the Americas and set sail for Europe to attend COP25 in Madrid next month, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
The Lake Delhi Dam in Iowa failed in 2010. VCU Capital News Service / Josh deBerge / FEMA

At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.

Read More Show Less

By Sabrina Kessler

Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Alex Robinson

Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.

The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.

Read More Show Less
People navigate snow-covered sidewalks in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Nov. 11 in Chicago. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
A general view of the flooded St. Mark's Square after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on Nov. 13 in Venice. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP / Getty Images

Two people have died as Venice has been inundated by the worst flooding it has seen in more than 50 years, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less