Sierra Club and Allies Challenge Army Corps for Failing to Consider Human Health Impacts of New MTR Mines
October 17, 2012
On October 17, the Sierra Club and its allies filed two separate lawsuits against the US Army Corps of Engineers for issuing new Clean Water Act Section 404 permits that authorize mining at the Raven Crest Contracting Boone #5 mine in West Virginia and the Leeco, Inc. Stacy Branch mine in Kentucky. The groups allege that the Army Corps violated the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act by failing to consider the established evidence that communities who live near mountaintop removal mines experience a disproportionate number of serious health problems.
An increasing body of published, peer-reviewed studies shows a correlation between mountaintop removal mining and serious public health concerns including higher rates of birth defects, certain forms of cancer, higher heart, lung and kidney disease rates and a lower life expectancy than for the average American The two lawsuits represent the first time citizens have brought suit to compel permitting authorities to consider these human health impacts when issuing new permits for mountaintop removal mines.
“In my practice as a family physician in Huntington, West Virginia, I see many patients who live in the West Virginia coal fields. There is a growing body of peer-reviewed research showing a correlation between certain chronic conditions and morbidity with the prevalence of mountaintop removal mining in nearby counties. I have seen unexplained health disparities in my patient population and I'm concerned that mountaintop removal mining could be affecting the health of my patients," said Dr. Syndee McElroy. "For the health and safety of Appalachian citizens, the Army Corps of Engineers must take these health concerns into account.”
“Mountaintop removal mining has put the health of our mountain communities at risk for far too long. I have been exploring the streams in this region for many years and have seen many healthy streams degraded over time from mining impacts. I am greatly concerned for the people who live, fish and play downstream from these mining sites. It is irresponsible for the Corps to approve any permit that doesn’t take the devastating health impacts of mountaintop removal mining into account,” said Lane Boldman of the Kentucky Sierra Club.
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, and Coal River Mountain Watch join Sierra Club in challenging the Raven Crest mine in West Virginia. The groups are represented by attorneys with Appalachian Mountain Advocates.
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth joins Sierra Club in challenging the Leeco mine in Kentucky. The groups are represented in that case by attorneys with Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Earthjustice, and the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center.
See other "Stopping Mountaintop Removal and Other Destructive Mining" cases.