Citizen Enforcement

CRMW’s Citizen Enforcement Project addresses the problem of having a state regulatory system that is ineffective, at best, at protecting residents from coal industry threats to their health, homes, and communities.  The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is a captured and corrupt regulatory agency that does not actually enforce the laws around surface mining to protect community health and safety.  We provide resources to the community and empower citizens to to fight back effectively against irresponsible coal industry practices and force regulatory agencies to do their job.  

CLICK HERE for information on how to take action locally to deal with mining problems (including filing complaints and reporting violations to state and federal agencies).

Our goals and activities are as follows:

  • Train citizens to monitor coal activities, document and report violations, and follow through.  Some activities at the Edwight MTR site were halted for months when a local resident videotaped blasting violations and showed his footage to federal regulators.  State DEP inspectors had refused to take action, but one visit by federal personnel resulted in four violations and changes to the company’s blasting operations.
  • Closely monitor mining activities at the Edwight MTR site and others that are chronic violators endangering the community. We succeeded in having a show cause order temporarily suspend operations at the Edwight site for multiple violations that we discovered.  With local residents, we monitor the sites from the air via flights from Southwings and from the ground via hiking with cameras and GPS. We overlay aerial images and ground navigation with permit maps to identify areas mined out of bounds. 
  • Oppose new permits in the area as they are proposed.  We work with community members to scrutinize permits, call for public hearings and site visits, and appeal permits through regulatory and legal means.
  • Stop new and existing operations on Coal River Mountain
  • Work with partner organizations to sue the coal industry and other agencies for flagrant violations of laws designed to protect communities, public health and the environment.
  • Publicize court dates, outcomes, and penalties for individuals arrested for polluting the Coal River.  Because of citizen complaints, two executives of Mountaineer Grading were arrested for criminal violations of water pollution standards.  We hope to demonstrate that citizens’ vigilance and persistence can and will bring polluters to justice.