"Does this look "Clean?"

"Does this look "Clean?"

Brushy Fork holds back over 9 billion gallons of toxic sludge.

Brushy Fork holds back over 9 billion gallons of toxic sludge.

Whitesville, W. Va.—Over 70 organizations from throughout the United States and 12 countries have endorsed the West Virginia citizens’ group Coal River Mountain Watch’s call for an end to destructive coal mining practices and the term “clean coal.” In a letter circulated internationally, CRMW writes, “Join us in fighting mountaintop removal, fighting dirty coal power plants, and supporting renewable energy.” The letter summarizes the process and effects of mountaintop removal, including clear-cutting forests, blasting, worsened flooding, and toxic waste sludge dams near schools and communities.

“There is no such thing as clean coal,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, which endorsed CRMW’s letter. Kennedy’s book Crimes against Nature contains a chapter sharply critical of “King Coal’s” abuses and mountaintop removal.

“Coal is dirty when you mine it, dirty when you transport it, dirty when you burn it, and dirty when you dispose of the ash,” said Vivian Stockman, project coordinator for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition in Huntington, W.Va. “And it sure dirties up politics.”

“Massey Energy’s most recent sludge spill proves once again the effects of the clean coal myth,” said Vernon Haltom of CRMW. “We the People will not accept having our lives and homeland sacrificed on the bloody altar of supposedly cheap energy.” Massey’s December 10 waste spill affected five miles of streams and caused public water intakes to be shut down.

According to Alan Nogee, Director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Clean Energy Program, “Newer technologies may reduce emissions, but coal is far from being clean. The enormous impacts from coal mining—especially the devastating practice of mountaintop removal—cannot be ignored, even if they are far from view for most Americans.” The Union of Concerned Scientists has criticized the Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental impact statement on mountaintop mining and valley fills for its focus on streamlining mining permits, while ignoring scientific evidence of “enormously destructive environmental impacts” and a “devastating effect on many neighboring communities.”

The governors of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Montana, and Wyoming are now promoting factories to convert coal to liquid fuels, saying this technology is used in South Africa and was used in Nazi Germany. “Coal fuel liquefaction is one of the dirtiest businesses around,” said Bobby Peek, who endorsed the CRMW letter for Friends of the Earth South Africa. Peek was the 1998 Goldman Prize winner for Africa.

Some of the Appalachian regional groups supporting the letter are United Mountain Defense of Tennessee, Kentucky Heartwood, Christians for the Mountains, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, and the Sierra Club chapters of West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee.

“We welcome new signatories at any time,” said Janice Nease, Executive Director of CRMW. “The dirty little secret is out, and we all need to stand together and expose the truth.”

Please view the letter and add your name at www.crmw.net.