An open letter on behalf of my brothers and sisters at Coal River Mountain

salazar jackson

I wrote this letter this morning to policy-makers as a part of my responsibility as a citizen to participate in our governance.  Massey Energy has begun blasting on Coal River Mountain, a furtherance of their immoral crusade to make a tremendous amount of money at the expense of the people of the Coal River area, the ecosystem, wise industrial policy, our society, and the world at large.

Ancient Jewish teachers often reminded us that the actions of one are intimately connected to us all through sayings like, “Those who save one life, save the world.”  In Massey’s case, it is, “Those who destroy one life, destroy the world.”  Help Massey emerge from their sickness through writing persons with the power to make this stop. Join me by clicking this link to access the form letter to send to the EPA, Office of the Interior, Army Corps of Engineers, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality.  Feel free to use some of the ways I personalized the letter so the recipients could know I care about specifics beyond the form letter.

Secs. Jackson and Salazar, Director Sutley, and the leadership of the Army Corps of Engineers,

I, and many friends, are writing to ask that you put a stop to mountaintop removal coal mining operations on Coal River Mountain in southern West Virginia, the area’s last mountain untouched by mountaintop removal.

The blasting not only threatens communities in the vicinity, it will also destroy a project that had rallied local residents as a prime opportunity to create permanent jobs and renewable energy. Coal River Mountain has enough wind potential to house a 328-megawatt wind farm. Every blast reduces the existing potential for clean energy, permanent jobs, and a stronger and more diverse regional economy.

President Obama spoke forcefully during his campaign of the deep need for us to invest in a sustainable future; both in energy generation (connected with energy independence) and, more generally, a way of doing industry that unites communities with good jobs and a more healthy environment over the long-term. It is a reminder that each of us is “our brother’s keeper.”

Furthermore, the blasting is occurring near the Brushy Fork slurry impoundment, which holds 8.2 billion gallons of toxic coal slurry. Should the blasting cause the impoundment to fail, nearby residents would have just minutes to evacuate before they were overtaken by a 50-foot wall of coal slurry that could cost more than 1,000 lives. Not only does blasting near this unlined impoundment increase the risk of failure, but it will almost certainly cause more of the toxic coal slurry to enter the groundwater. In nearby Prenter Hollow, dozens of residents have become ill from drinking water contaminated with coal slurry.

Mr. Salazar, Mrs. Sutley, and Mrs. Jackson specifically, you have the power to direct your agencies to work together to halt the blasting, defend the safety of the nation’s citizens, and preserve some of Appalachia’s most valuable resources. I anticipate at least hearing back from your offices to know this is a concern for you, because my brothers and sisters in West Virginia don’t have the luxury to wait this one out. “We the people” of the United States need policies that are forward-looking, sustainable, and wise in shaping the nation. Please step up to the plate on this issue.

Thank you,

Nathan Myers


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