Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
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Winds of Change
May 2005

Contents

Citizens FED UP with the WV DEP; Agency Must Consider Needs of Coalfield Residents, Not Just Coal Barons

Grievances and Demands to DEP

The Fifth Interstate Summit For The Mountains

Big Coal is Back, and Not For The Better
Michael Morrison: Super Volunteer!
More Disturbing Facts About Coal Sludge - Really BIG Dams
Appalachia Hopes Cultural Heritage Map Boosts Region's Tourism

Death of A Mountain

Just What Does DEP Stand For? It Sure Doesn't Protect Anything
Don't Forget FAITH
Paper Trails the Holy Grail for Voters Basic Rights!
Money = Access and Influence
Real Campaign Finance Reform - To End Fascism
March Mineral Madness
This Years Legislative Session Underlines Need for Fair and Clean Elections in West Virginia
Kick-Off Rally & Concert; Mountain Justice Summer Underway
Outsiders??? Yeah, Right!
Mountain Justice Summer Follows Friends of Coal Rally at Capitol
Mountaintop Removal in Mingo County - Without a Permit!
Island Creek - A Growing List of Serious Environmental Issues
E-Day! at State Capitol - Activists and Others Honored at Annual Event
These Are Your Mountains... These Are Your Mountains on Massey. . . or Arch . . . or . . .
Evangelical Leaders Join Global Warming Battle, Cite Stewardship
Voices of the Coalfields, Voices of Mountain Lovers Heard Near and Far!
A Commitment to Dismantle Racism
THANKS - To all our members and supporters!

We Need Your Help!

Miscellany


For viewing the PDF version of the newsletter

 

Citizens FED UP with the WV DEP

Agency Must Consider Needs of Coalfield Residents, Not Just Coal Barons

On Feb. 10, although snow blew and temperatures dropped, about 40 people converged on the West Virginia Department of (so-called) Environmental Protection. We came to air our grievances to DEP Secretary Stephanie Timmermeyer, who had recently told state legislators that she was striving to speed up the mountaintop removal permitting process.

Our action, organized by Coal River Mountain Watch and OVEC, was part of a multi-state, multi-group day of action against mountaintop removal coal mining. We were joined by French TV news, here to film a story about coal and global warming.

Click here for Grievances and Demands Given to DEP
 

We kept our convergence upon DEP secret, as the last time we tried to meet en masse with Timmermeyer (when she fired Matt Crum), she got wind beforehand and avoided us. This time, she knew that we knew she was in the building. We milled around in the lobby, waiting for her to agree to see us and singing a song led by singer/songwriter T. Paige Dalporto. We were soon escorted back to a meeting room, where we presented a list of demands.

 
Coal River Mountain Watch volunteer Bo Webb gives new, true meaning to DEP.
Coal River Mountain Watch volunteer Bo Webb gives new, true meaning to DEP.

Timmermeyer was angry that we didnt book a meeting with her via proper channels and said she would meet with us anytime we asked. (Thats funny, as that is not what we found to be the case in the past she prefers to have her underlings meet with us.) She denied she had told legislators, at a meeting about expediting mine permits, that she would speed up the permitting process, despite the Jan. 10, 2005, Beckley Register-Herald article, Environmental Chief Predicts Faster Permits. Nine days after this meeting, in Timmermeyer Touts Faster Mine Permitting, the Charleston Gazette reported:

Coal companies are getting new strip mining permits faster and will continue to see the regulatory process streamlined under the Manchin administration, Environmental Protection Secretary Stephanie Timmermeyer told industry officials Friday

Timmermeyer told coal representatives that she is eager to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a new, streamlined permit process approved by the Bush administration.

Coal River Mountain Watch told Timmermeyer they had asked the DEP for quite some time for citizen trainings on how to read permits, as well as for earlier citizen input into the permitting process. Many citizens feel that by the time we are allowed to comment on mountaintop removal permits, the permits are already a done deal. Someone asked Timmermeyer if she had ever denied a permit.

After a pause, she said she was unprepared for the meeting and couldnt answer. Someone did remind her that she had denied one in a northern trout stream. She noted that the company changed its application, and the permit was granted. (That permit is under appeal.)

One disabled former mineworker (sick from coal prep plant chemical poisoning) described the dangers of coal sludge impoundments. He knows he helped construct them. Timmermeyer promised to meet with him and a DEP engineer for further discussions.

Timmermeyer agreed to hold citizen trainings, perhaps see about getting citizens involved in the permit process and to look into the matter of a coal siloat a coal prep plant very close toMarsh Fork Elementary, where several students and teachers have died from cancer.

As we left, we thought that before sleeping that night, perhaps Timmermeyer considered the anger, frustration and extensive problems her agency causes coalfield residents and water drinkers and air breathers across the state.

 
In the lobby, making our voices heard!

But, on Feb. 28, Timmermeyer wrote Coal River Mountain Watch and OVEC a letter, which proved she really didnt bother to reflect on why coalfield residents are angry. She rehashed our grievances, without really saying what she would do about them. She accused us of being unprofessional, deceitful and dishonest. She tried to shift the focus away from the issues that forced our meting, and onto the way we met.

In reply, OVEC volunteer Michael Morrison and OVEC staffer Abe Mwaura wrote, in part:

Please understand, in our view, that if you had been acting professionally all along, we would not have felt the need to force you to meet with us on Feb. 10. In fact, it should not disappoint you, but rather shame you that citizens of West Virginia feel like they have to use the means we did in order to have a government official listen to them.

We arrived at DEP headquarters as we did, because of the problems in your agency - people feel like your agency never listens to their concerns, is highly dishonest, and can be bought and sold by wealthy corporate interests.

You claim that our members used dishonest means to get you to meet with us. We cant change your opinion, but remember who is the public and who is the public servant here. The very week you accuse of us of being dishonest, your agency had been dishonest with residents about the flocculent spill in Boone County. Your agency failed to warn residents of Boone County that they were in danger due to this spill.

Your continued dishonesty (this being only a single example) puts peoples lives at risk every day.

French TV news cameraman and reporter, foreground, film as we crowd the DEP lobby.

 

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