Sierra Club and Kentuckians For The Commonwealth Expose Illegal Mountaintop Removal Mining in Eastern Kentucky
June 11, 2008
Mountaintop Removal mining (MTR) is just what it sounds like. Instead of digging tunnels to reach coal deposits, mining companies simply blow off the forested tops that conceal the coal. To minimize costs, the resulting dirt, rock, and often even trees are chucked into surrounding valleys, burying and contaminating important waterways and destroying communities. In order to dump mining waste into streams, mining companies must receive a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Following visits to a proposed mine site in the Fish Trap Lake area of Eastern Kentucky, Sierra Club and Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC) members were astounded to discover that the area already had been mined by Clintwood Elkhorn Mining Company (owned by Florida-based TECO Energy, Inc.) – even though the company had not yet received the legally required permit under the Clean Water Act!
The company mined through two stream segments, burying them in the process.
After the site visits, Sierra Club officials contacted the local Sassafras office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to obtain information, and a Corps official confirmed that the mining had taken place without the required permit. The Corps official noted that the company had "self-reported" the violation back in March, but to date neither the Corps nor state agencies have taken any enforcement action.
Accordingly, the Sierra Club and KFTC, on June 10, 2008, notified Clintwood Elkhorn of their intent to initiate a legal challenge. The Sierra Club and KFTC are represented in this matter by attorney Joe Lovett with Appalachian Center for the Economy & the Environment and attorney Jim Hecker with Public Justice.
This situation represents yet another outrageous example of mining companies blatantly ignoring the law at the expense of local communities and the environment. While the Bush administration cozies up to mining companies and their well-paid lobbyists, local residents and their allies at Sierra Club and KFTC are left to suffer the impacts of these devastating mining practices and must take it upon themselves to defend their health, environment, and communities. This legal action aims to force TECO to comply with the law and to clean up the mess it created. Hopefully, TECO will get the message.
Photo: "Mountain views" in Fish Trap Lake area, Pike County, KY. TECO Energy's Clintwood Elkhorn Mining Company illegally mined a site in this region.
Details and Documents:
Sierra Club and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth Final Notice Letter, June 10, 2008
Environmental Groups to Sue TECO
June 12, 2008, by Russ Cassady, Appalachian News Express
See other "Stopping Mountaintop Removal and Other Destructive Mining" cases.