Read on for the story of the threatened Ison Rock Ridge and nearby communities. Click here to take action to Keep Ison Rock Ridge Standing.
The permit to mine Ison Rock Ridge would destroy over 1200 acres of land immediately above the town of Appalachia, and would severely impact the communities of Inman, Andover, Derby, Callahan Avenue and Ridge Street in the town of Appalachia. The Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, a community group based in Wise County, and a member of the Wise Energy Coalition has been fighting this permit since 2007.
The hollers of the five surrounding communities are narrow, and the permit boundary comes within 300 feet of some families’ homes. If the EPA grants the permit these families will have to deal with constant dust coating their counter-tops and lungs, and machine noise interrupted by the occasional foundation-shaking explosion. For several years they would have to watch their mountaintop flattened and their headwater streams buried with toxic mining waste – then the coal company will leave, and they will be left with the mess, the health bills, and a community diminished by almost every measure.
Despite pressure from federal agencies and outcry from the local community, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy approved their part of the highly controversial Ison Rock Ridge surface coal mine permit in 2010. Thankfully additional sign-off from the US Environmental Protection Agency is necessary before mining could begin. The EPA hasn’t made a decision on this permit thanks to continual public outcry asking for the permit to be denied. 32,000 comments were sent to the EPA and other decision makers from citizens across Virginia and the nation in 2011 alone. In November of 2011 members form the communities from around Ison Rock Ridge met with the EPA and held a rally, called Virginia Rising, outside their Washington headquarters that attracted 150 people in the cold rain. We plan on keeping up the pressure in 2012 so that the EPA has all the support and pressure they need to deny the permit.
Ison Rock Ridge is located in Wise County, in the southwest corner of Virginia. You can click the images above and to the right to see large, high resolution versions.
Even though the Environmental Protection Agency has signaled increased action to reduce water pollution from surface mines, state agencies, coal corporations and even local representatives are pushing ahead with plans for new surface mine permits that would cause unprecedented water pollution. Growing concerns from the medical, scientific and regulatory communities focus on the impact of mine waste on drinking and recreational water, and on the cumulative impact on already impaired streams.
“This is good example of them not caring about the people and taking care of the people,” said Sam Broach, President of SAMS. “They’re not looking out for the safety of the people and environment, and they’re going to blast this mountain despite the federal rules. Basically, we’re going to keep up the fight. We’re not quitting here. They only care about the bottom dollar, and we care about the future of our community.”
Locals explain the importance of Ison Rock Ridge
Please support the work of the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards by clicking this link tokeep up the pressure on the EPA in order to Keep Ison Rock Ridge Standing.
The Virginia Rising was held immediately after locals met with the EPA on Nov. 16th 2011
The bright red layer in this image represents already mined areas. Ison Rock Ridge is one of the last ridges in the area left in tact.