Virginia Residents March to Celebrate Ison Rock Ridge and Protest Mountain’s Pending Demise

Written by Scott Parkin

Topics: Coal, Direct Action

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Ison Rock Ridge is a mountain in southwest Virginia under attack by coal companies seeking to blow the top off of it for seams of coal. Today in Appalachia, VA, 50 Virginia residents and Mountain Justice activists marched through the town to celebrate Ison Rock Ridge and protest it’s pending demise.

via SAMS

Here’s the press release:

Local Residents March in Downtown Appalachia to Celebrate Ison Rock Ridge and Protest Mountain’s Pending Demise

Appalachia, VA – Over 50 people marched through downtown Appalachia, calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to deny the proposed surface mine permit for Ison Rock Ridge and keep the ridge standing. People marched with puppets of Ison Rock Ridge, King Coal holding Governor McDonnell and Representative Morgan Griffith, and signs saying “Keep Ison Rock Ridge Standing,” and “Friends of Mountains and Miners,” while musicians played traditional Appalachian tunes.

“The EPA is our last line of defense, here in Appalachia. We support what they have done to date to hold up this permit and we just want them to stick to their guns and stand strong,” said Sam Broach, former miner and president of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards.

The event was kicked off with a rally at 10 a.m. downtown with speakers from SAMS and allied organizations representing 10 different states. After the rally, the group marched through downtown Appalachia with the signs and puppets while chanting “Keep Ison Rock Ridge Standing.” People marched to the Andover Community Center where they celebrated the mountain’s 460 millionth birthday with a fish fry and birthday cake. The party was a celebration that the mountain remains standing, its cultural value preserved and the health of neighboring communities protected for generations to come.

“If this permit is approved, we will only see an increase in the already-devastating health impacts on our people as result of mountaintop removal coal mining,” said Jane Branham, a nurse and vice-president of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards. “Our people are dying from the pollution in the water and air and the EPA is the only agency that is willing to take a stand to protect us.”

Since 2007, the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards and the Sierra Club have been fighting the proposed 1,200-acre surface mine that, if approved, would impact over 1,800 residents with increased blasting, noise, coal dust and water pollution. The EPA has objected to this permit for violating the Clean Water Act and the concerned groups are supporting the EPA’s efforts to protect Appalachian waterways. Participants in the march signed postcards urging the EPA to deny the permit and next week, allies from across the state will also sign postcards and call the EPA’s offices with the same message.

The Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards were joined by allied organizations, Mountain Justice, Heartwood, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and the Sierra Club. Members of these groups came from as far away as Indiana and even Australia to support local organizing efforts that have been rooted in the immediate community.

1 Comment For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Tommy says:

    Many people here in the Appalachian Mountains support the coal companies. You see those “Friends of coal” stickers everywhere. The reason for this is that coal and natural gas wells provide the majority of the jobs here.

    Many of the people don’t realize what a bad deal they are being offered by the coal companies. They do pay their employees well, for this area, in most cases. Also, it normally doesn’t even require a high school diploma to get a job with them. The down sides of this deal are: you will probably be working at least 10 hours a day, 6/7 days a week, without many vacation or personal days. You also have a good chance of dying while you are at work and if you do make it you still have a chance of dying from black lung when you are 45/50 years old. On top of that is all of the things they do to the land here.

    I grew up here and had many of the same ideals the people here have. I moved away for about 13 years and learned to look at things in a different way. Now I’m back and everyone here thinks I’m weird. haha I do think people in this area just need to be educated on how these companies work and understand that they don’t care at all about the people or the mountains. Thanks Scott for writing about this stuff.

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