New Mountaintop Removal Planned for Coal River Mountain

May 28, 2016

Please stand with us to stop Alpha Natural Resources' latest mountaintop removal permit application on Coal River Mountain. The comment period ends June 3, 2016. The 561-acre “Center Contour” permit, S300316, would destroy the area between the active Collins Fork/Workman’s Creek mountaintop removal site and the not-started Eagle #2 permit and stretch a mile closer to the pending Long Ridge #1 permit. The site is two miles long and nearly a mile wide in spots. Alpha plans on 11 sediment ditches totaling 3.5 miles in length. Please continue reading to help us stop this new assault on our communities' health.

The application documents say, “This operation will utilize area mining, contour, and highwall mining methods to remove the maximum amount of coal reserves from the permit area.” What this really means is that Alpha plans to blast and bulldoze huge portions of the mountain to turn it inside out. The plan includes blasting off the top 500 feet of a section nearly a mile long and nearly 1,800 feet (6 football fields!) wide, leveling it, and then supposedly putting it back when they’re done. Several layers are potentially acid and selenium producing. That’s right: they’re going to dismantle layers of rock that have been buried for hundreds of millions of years, turn it into rubble, and put it back better than it was.

In the meantime, the carcinogenic blasting dust will wreak havoc on our community’s already-impaired health, streams will become polluted, and vast stretches of our mountain will be unusable for gathering ginseng, mushrooms, berries, ramps, and other traditional resources. Habitat for endangered bats, which control disease-carrying mosquitoes, will be destroyed.

Please join us in telling the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection's permit supervisor, Tom Wood, that he must deny this permit. And just so you know, the WVDEP is required by law to send your letter or email to the coal company, and it becomes part of the public record that anyone can access. Comments need to include the permit number (S300316). You can email them to Tom Wood at or send by US postal service to

DEP Regional Office
254 Industrial Drive
Oak Hill, WV 25901

Here's what we said:

Dear Mr. Wood,

Coal River Mountain Watch OPPOSES bankrupt Alpha Natural Resources subsidiary Republic Energy’s Article 3 permit application number S300316.  We request an informal conference at a time and place convenient to the citizens of Naoma, Dry Creek, Rock Creek, Arnett, Clear Creek, and Artie, all of Raleigh County. Liberty High School in Glen Daniel would be a suitable location.  In accordance with WV Code 22-3-20, we also request access to the proposed mining area for the purpose of gathering information relevant to the proceeding. We request that the site visit take place at least one week prior to the informal conference and that it include at least four citizens so that the information gathered may be used to inform others in sufficient time prior to the proceeding.

We oppose the permit for several reasons which will be elaborated upon at the informal conference. These reasons include, but are not limited to, the following.

This site will create a public health hazard. Numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies clearly demonstrate that this type of mining leads to significantly elevated rates of cancer, birth defects, heart disease, blood inflammation, depression, and other serious and deadly illnesses. A list of the studies with links to them is available at  Of particular interest is the study titled “Appalachian Mountaintop Mining Particulate Matter Induces Neoplastic Transformation of Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells and Promotes Tumor Formation.” Approving this permit would contradict WV Dept. of Environmental Protection’s mission “to promote a healthy environment.”

West Virginia’s taxpayers will be at risk of bearing the reclamation costs because of Alpha’s weak financial status. Reclamation at Alpha’s recently idled Edwight site and Twilight complex proceeds at a snail’s pace, contributing to public health impacts each day that these dusty plateaus remain as bare rubble. Even WVDEP has serious doubts about Alpha’s ability to live up to its reclamation obligations:  “DEP’s own estimates of Alpha’s reclamation and water treatment obligation in the State of West Virginia runs to roughly $1 billion on an undiscounted basis,” according to the article “West Virginia Regulators Question Alpha’s Apparent Intent to Abandon Mine-Reclamation Liabilities” at

Vast stretches of the mountain will be unusable for gathering ginseng, mushrooms, berries, ramps, and other traditional resources. Habitat for endangered bats, which control disease-carrying mosquitoes, will be destroyed.

WVDEP has a duty to protect the people and environment. To even consider granting this permit flies in the face of common sense and common decency. We urge you to do the right thing and deny this permit.