There has been a lot of grassroots pressure on the EPA in the last few weeks on the issue of Mountaintop Removal. Last Friday I was able to meet a new coalition of youth activists in Philly that has emerged when they were speaking out at the Region 3 EPA headquarters.
The group, Philadelphia Coalition Against Coal, was demanding that the EPA reject all new permits for mountaintop removal as well as intervene to stop the blasting on Coal River Mountain. They even mocked up a few example citations to illustrate to EPA what they should be doing.
After a few hours of flyering the employees and others passing by, Jeff Lapp, EPA staff in the Watershed division came down to speak with the youth. Read more about their conversation here
You will recall that the EPA is holding 79 permits for “enhanced review”, and of those 23 fall within the Region 3 jurisdiction. Lapp was able to clarify the status of these permits and invited the group to sit down and meet with him to discuss their concerns. The group happily accepted this offer and gave him a letter they had prepared as well as the mock citations.
The group also demanded that the EPA intervene to stop blasting on Coal River Mountain which has been the target of much recent grassroots pressure.
UPDATE: Late in the day Friday, EPA sent a letter to the operator of this mine, Marfork Coal (Massey Energy subsidiary) demanding answers to some very tough questions. Read Dana’s blog for more on the letter.
Stay tuned for a report back from their meeting, the Region 3 office includes West Virginia and Virginia, so its a critical decision-maker on the future of MTR operations in these states.