To: James.B.Pierce@wv.gov, Harold.D.Ward@wv.gov
Stop poisoning our community
Deny Contura Energy subsidiary Republic Energy's application for yet another 1,085-acre mountaintop removal coal mining permit on Coal River Mountain. Blasting on these sites engulfs neighboring communities with clouds of carcinogenic silica dust, linked to elevated rates of cancer, heart disease, birth defects, and other deadly diseases. This company has amassed violations of existing permits and failed to report most of them in their permit application. During a pandemic, it's more important than ever to protect public health. We urge you to deny permit number S301419.
Why is this important?
Contura Energy subsidiary Republic Energy has applied for another mountaintop removal permit on Coal River Mountain: 1,085 acres (1.7 square miles) adjacent to their existing 6,555 acres (10.2 square miles) of mountaintop removal and toxic waste sludge dams. This process involves blasting the mountain with ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, releasing clouds of dust, mostly carcinogenic silica, into the communities below. With some neighborhoods enduring the daily equivalent of 20 Tomahawk missiles (which the West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection calls a "small blast") and dozens of scientific studies documenting the significant health impacts, coal companies dismiss residents' concerns.
In response to Coal River Mountain Watch's objection to this permit, the $2-billion coal company Contura Energy states that they are "required to comply with WVDEP's air quality rules related to controlling fugitive particulate matter." However, we have aerial footage from Nov. 13, 2020, showing their massive dust cloud from an existing site filling the valley below, obscuring the homes in the neighborhood, and traveling more than two miles downwind. This new permit is right above another nearby neighborhood and comes within 300 feet of some homes.
Other hazards of mountaintop removal include structural damage to homes from blasting, pollution of streams from runoff, and increased risk of flooding.
West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection has the duty and obligation to provide and maintain a healthful environment. To approve this permit, subjecting neighboring residents to carcinogenic dust clouds during a deadly pandemic, is to abdicate this responsibility. WVDEP must do the right thing and deny permit S301419 proposed by Contura Energy subsidiary Republic Energy.