Kentucky Endangered by Mountaintop Mining

Our friends at Appalachian Voices have a campaign to save America's Most Endangered Mountains from "strip-mining on steroids" -- otherwise known as mountaintop removal mining.  The latest mountain in the cross-hairs of Big Coal is a ridge top above Wilson Creek in Kentucky.  Here is a helpful video profiling this special place, along with details on the company's plan to blow up the mountain and bury headwater streams under three "valley fills."  Nearly 100 families who live in small towns along Wilson Creek are fighting to save their homes and their way of life.  Learn more and take action to end mountaintop removal.

The good news is that some Kentucky politicians are starting to come around on this issue.  Recently, Gov. Beshear and other elected leaders spoke out strongly against the Bush administration's efforts to weaken mining pollution rules.  And yesterday state Rep. Don Pasley introduced his "stream saver bill" to prevent mining operators from dumping "overburden" waste from mountaintop removal sites into nearby streams.   

As quoted in the newspaper, Rep. Pasley doesn't oppose "responsible" coal mining -- all his legislation does "is simply call on the coal companies to leave the mountain largely as they found it."  He said "[i]t may not be as easy as burying a stream and leveling dozens of square miles in a matter of months, but it is the right thing to do."

Coal operators and their supporters in the state legislature have twice thwarted Rep. Pasley's attempts to force the industry to clean up it's act.  But Pasley remains undaunted in his crusade to protect the headwaters that feed his beloved Kentucky River -- and other streams in the state that routinely get buried under mining waste or choked with sediment and heavy metal contamination from coal mining upstream.

"I'm interested in the Bluegrass Region and the Kentucky River," Pasley said when he filed his bill for the third time.  "Nearly 800,000 people depend on the Kentucky River for their drinking water."

Although previous attempts to pass the stream saver bill have fallen short, Pasley -- and supporters like Kentuckians for the Commonwealth -- realize this time it's even more critical.  The health of hundreds of streams are at stake in the wake of the Bush administration's new regulation removing the required 100-foot buffer area between streams and the disposal of the mining waste.

One thing's for sure -- the people of Kentucky are lucky to have a few solid environmental champions like Rep. Pasley who are willing to fight against those who prefer the Bluegrass State to be the Big Coal State.