Sunday, November 8th, 2009- Philly activists protested and flyered today outside the Opening Session of the American Public Health Association’s 137 Annual Meeting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was a keynote speaker.
The activists were demanding that Ms.Jackson end blasting on Coal River Mountain in Coal River, WV. The mountain is the site of a campaign by local residents for a commercial-scale wind farm. A wind resources assessment and economic study commissioned by the group Coal River Mountain Watch in 2008 revealed that Coal River Mountain has enough wind potential to provide electricity for over 85,000 homes.
Instead, the EPA has allowed Massey Energy, one of the largest coal producers in the country, to begin blasting at Coal River Mountain as part of mountaintop removal mining excavation. The blasting is occurring near the Brushy Fork impoundment, the largest slurry dam in Appalachia. Critics of mountaintop removal argue that an estimated 1,000 lives are at risk if the dam at Brushy Fork were to fail. Last December, a containment pond in Kingston, Tennessee burst, flooding the area with over one billion gallons of coal ash sludge, producing the largest environmental disaster in United States history.
Attendees to the APHA’s annual meeting were given flyers on their way into the opening session urging them to “Tell Lisa Jackson: Save Coal River Mountain.” Ms. Jackson and the EPA have been the targets of a campaign by a coalition of environmental groups working to end mountaintop removal for several months.