Proposal Could Halt Mountaintop Removal

By: Peter O'Connor Email
By: Peter O'Connor Email

A proposal that some say could halt mountaintop removal in Kentucky is expected to be voted on soon in the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee. Environmentalists love the bill, coal companies hate it.

Coal insiders say if the measure passes, it will slow any growth to Eastern Kentucky's economy but environmentalists say they don't care about more jobs if it means they have to bathe in and drink bad water.

Environmentalists say they are tired of getting bad water from coal companies.

"I suffer from that, where I live nobody has adequate drinking water," said Raul Urias.

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth Member Raul Urias says enough is enough and that is why he supports House Bill 569. The measure would prohibit coal companies from dumping dirt and rock from mountaintops into streams and valleys.

"Unfortunately I have to bathe in it, my family has to bathe in it but we do have a small amount of drinking water supplied to us through the coal company agreement," Urias said.

Others say the legislation will impose unfair restrictions on the coal companies.

"In the Bluegrass, they call it industrial development. In the mountains, they call it destruction," said Hazard Mayor Bill Gorman.

Gorman says it could hurt the region's ability to grow and create jobs.

"The development of the mountains has come by proper development and I'm not saying go out there and do anything, but I'm saying at the right place at the right time we're furnishing jobs," Gorman said.

Environmentalists like Raul Urias say more jobs is good, but not at the expense of others.

The legislative panel expects to vote on the measure soon.

The bill was scheduled to be voted on by the legislative panel Wednesday, but lawmakers say not enough members were present.


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  • by Annoymous on Jul 28, 2009 at 04:49 AM
    Scott, hundrends of people are out of work "because" of mountain top removal mining. It takes less men to so called mine that way, so the real miners are all laid off, and their mountains are destroyed. by the way, manufacturing and tourism offer more jobs than the coal industry, and we would probably have more of those type jobs in the South eastern part of the state if it wasnt for King Coal. antoher thing why, when the coal industry makes so much money, are we in poverty?
  • by Hazard girl on Jul 28, 2009 at 02:31 AM
    Coal Mining profits organizations like Massey Coal. It does nothing for the hardworking people of Ky. Myth: Mountaintop removal mining increases employment. Fact: Mountaintop removal strip mining is so profitable for the coal companies precisely because it replaces most of the need for labor with highly destructive, but nonetheless efficient, explosives and machinery. Although coal production rose 32 percent between 1987 and 1997, mining jobs dropped by 29 percent over the same period. Source: Citizens Coal Council Fact: The number of people employed by the coal industry in West Virginia peaked around 1940 at over 130,000 people employed, producing approximately 130,000 short tons of coal annually. By 1997, less than 20,000 people were being paid by coal companies to produce over 180,000 short tons of coal annually. Source: Coal Productivity, WV Office of Miners Health, Safety & Training Myth: Mountaintop removal mining improves local economies. Fact: Tourism pumps far more money into West Virginia economy each year than does the coal industry. Source: Citizens Coal Council Fact: Surface mining (which includes MTR mining), accounts for only 1.2% of jobs in WV and brings in just 2.6% of the state’s total revenues. The counties where surface mining predominates are some of the still poorest counties in the country. Source: 2002 economic census data;
  • by Hazard Girl on Jul 24, 2009 at 04:31 AM
    I grew up in Hazard, and I love the people, but I wish you all would take a closer look at what you are giving up. Beautiful forests, clean streams, adequate drinking water, clean air, wild life...and you are replacing it with saw grass and briers, silt ponds, no trees. I know you hurt for money, I was raised in a house w/no running water, and a pot bellied stove, but I would prefer that to to the destruction of our environment for the greed of the Coal Companies. It wont last forever, the coal will be gone, then what will you have? you wont have your land anymore!
  • by Dawn Location: martin on Apr 1, 2009 at 09:06 PM
    I support mountain top mining!!It puts food on my table every day and clothes and shoes on my childs feet. If we take away coal mines what willl ky and wv have? These jobs lead back to other jobs not oly mine jobs .What about air planes private jets they polute the air .These people who worked for the mines and now drawning a check and want say stuff about the mines .That is wrong it was good when you were supporting your family.
  • by skip Location: stutler on Mar 24, 2009 at 06:12 PM
    im from massachusetts and my heart goes out to you suffering from black water from mtr,,,this is our mountains to not just kentucky`s,the south,this land is my land too!i have looked forward to fishing in tennesse and kentucy but hey now i got to be worried im fishing some coal swamp.i dosagree with the coal miner who said"we take a chance on our lives underground"!!! why is better that children die from arsenic poisening above ground...such brave men them coal miners are,guess the health of all the above ground life doesnt matter...and then these same miners cant see that mtr is taking there jobs slowly like robots took jobs at GM...we were watching in Massaxhusetts,keep up the good work citizens..what took you soo long..300 mountaintops already gone
  • by Scott Location: knox co. KY on May 4, 2008 at 09:24 AM
    I live and work in the coal business as most of people do in this county and all counties around us.The coal industry is the only thing we have.I can think of hundreds of people I know personly that would be out of work if this bill passes including me.It real easy for someone to be against something then it ain't going to effect them.If all the tree hugger get there wish they should help bear the wait of thousands being out of work.The last thing we need is more people on SSI.Nothing you can do in life makes everbody happy but to listen to a few people and destory thousands to make them happy wouldn't make much sense either.This area only MTR has provided much more usable land.Instead of bluffs that you cant even walk up now we have pasture land,wildlife management areas,and absolutely stunning views.
  • by Angela Location: Minnesota on Mar 15, 2008 at 11:49 AM
    Mountaintop removal coal mining must be banned, we cannot afford to wreck natural resources for cheap coal
  • by Caitlin Location: McAteer on Mar 13, 2008 at 07:44 AM
    As a native of WV, I've seen what happens to the land after the strip mines have come and gone. The coal companies cannot restore millions of years of bedrock and thousands of years of old-growth trees and other flora. I've seen the resulting drainage (nothing in nature has ever been neon green) and while I'm no chemist, I can attest to the fact that whatever's coming down from those sites is NOT good. Finally, strip mining is not a permanent job. Once the coal's been stripped, the job disappears until another mine opens up on another hilltop. It's a quick "fix", a little extra money for people who will never see the majority of the profits the mining companies reap from their labor. King Coal is alive and well, and growing ever fatter off the backs of Appalachians.
  • by Erica Location: Phyllis on Mar 12, 2008 at 05:58 PM
    This is directed at Pink John Deer. Please get your facts straight before you write anything. First the coal industry did have a say at the hearing. The coal assoc. president spoke along with some of their experts. Also, Those who are fighting this bill, live in KENTUCKY. Hence the organization KENTUCKIANS FOR THE COMMONWEALTH. Raul is my husband and he was raised in KENTUCKY. His family has lived on this land for over 150 yrs. Also my well water is contaiminated with arsenic and we HAVE a septic tank and the only above us is a mine. So Thank you for knowing all your facts. And another thing we are not trying to put everyone out of their jobs. We just want things done right. You apparently have no common sense either. I have bathed my daughter in water that had high levels of arsenic in it, now if you are a mother what do you think about that? I could not protect her. I cannot protect her from playing outside with coal dust and dust and noise. Thank you!
  • by The Pink John Deer (Part 2) Location: Laurel on Mar 12, 2008 at 09:57 AM
    Their is evidence out there that after coal companies mine the land, they restore it to it's natural landscape.Land becomes economical, it can become farmland, home areas, forests, etc.The Coal mining industry isn't the one to primarily blame for bad streams.It's homes that don't have septic systems and let it run out into the rivers and streams!It's people who throw garbage, old vehicles, chemicals into these waters. The coal mining industry cleans that all up! They are not the ones responsible for regulating people to have septic systems, for keeping junk out of the streams and rivers.Why doesn't these Environmentalists and State do something about this, instead of trying to blame the coal industry and put nearly 18,000 coal mining employees out of work.The Environmentalists and some government officials apparently does not have much common sense when it comes down to such subjects.Environmentalists are just out there to try to take down the coal mining industry with no real reason.

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