Congressional Oversight Hearing

Sep 24, 2011

Big Coal's friends in Congress will stage some political theatre in Charleston, W.Va. on Monday, September 26. Please come out and/or call your Congressperson in support of enforcing clean water protections in the coalfields!

The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources is staging  an "oversight field hearing" that they have titled "Jobs at Risk: Community Impacts of the Obama Administration's Effort to Rewrite the Stream Buffer Zone Rule".

Title aside, you can bet community impacts, especially the health impacts, will not be discussed by six of the eight invited panelists. The list includes members of the West Virginia and Ohio Coal Associations, a spokespersonfor the "Mountaintop Mining Coalition" and officials from West Virginia, Virginia and Wyoming environmental protection agencies, agencies that do far more to protect the coal industry's profits than human health and the environment.

Our good friends at Earthjustice and the Sierra Club in Washington, D.C. worked with the staff of Rep. Ed Markey, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee to ensure that this hearing won't be a complete coal industry public relations show. There will be two panelists who will authoritatively discuss the real and devastating community impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining, as they live them everyday: Boone County resident Maria Gunnoe and Raleigh County resident Bo Webb.

The hearing starts at 9 a.m. at the Kanawha County Courthouse, 407 Virginia St. East, in Courtroom 4, on the second floor. Please come out to Support Maria and Bo and the movement to end mountaintop removal. The courtroom won't hold very many people, so come early. At 8 a.m., pro-stream, pro-mountain folks will be there, handing out buttons and stickers. Your presence will show Congressional members in attendance that Appalachians want our protective stream buffer - our lives depend on stream protection!

One particularly outrageous aspect of this so-called hearing is that there is no proposal currently on the table in regards to the Stream Buffer Zone rule. The rule was established during the Reagan Administration, but was rarely enforced. As Bush left office, he gutted the rule, just in case the next administration was thinking of maybe enforcing it. There's good background information here, if you want to know more.

2. Contact your Congressperson

If you can't attend in person, once the hearing is underway, you should be able to watch the proceedings streaming live on the Internet by clickinghere.

Please take a few minutes to contact your Congressperson to tell her/him that Appalachians deserve stream protections. Ask your Congressperson to direct the Office of Surface Mining to re-instate the Stream Buffer Zone Rule and make sure it is actually enforced.