Meeting Four: Is Coal Slurry Poisoning Well Water?
January 9, 2007
Photos by Vivian Stockman
here to read about the first meeting,
here for the second and here for the
Committee Passes Study Resolution
Coal Industry Shocked - Shocked! - These Hearings Happening
It appears the coal industry is shocked shocked!
that We, the People would bring our concerns directly to our
Quite frankly, we questionwere trying to find
the origin or basis of this issue being brought before this committee
and are a little lost in trying to find out what the basis was for, the
actual origin of this issue. So said Chris Hamilton, vice president of
the WV Coal Association, as he addressed a legislative subcommittee on
the problems of coal slurry injection and groundwater contamination.
Hamilton inaccurately contended that the only area
where theres controversy surrounding coal slurry injection and
groundwater contamination is in certain areas of Mingo County, where the
matter is in court.
that litigation is advancing, positions are being
taken, and the whole issue is being prepared for trial. Given that, we
would question why this committee of the legislature would have interest
in substituting itself for the judiciary, Hamilton said.
The Associated Press reported, The West Virginia
Coal Association may not understand why legislators are asking about
coal slurry and groundwater when the matter is before a Mingo County
Circuit Court judge.
But lawmakers said Monday that they cannot
ignore their constituents concerns about the possibility of coal waste
contaminating drinking water and endorsed a resolution calling for a
comprehensive study of the matter.
The Associated Press continued, Delegate Robert
Tabb, D-Jefferson, told Hamilton that lawmakers cannot ignore the
volume of complaints and entreaties from residents.
Tabb told Hamilton, Im not content on this issue
or any other to wait until the court system makes a decision to do what
I believe to be the right thing. Im a little offended that were kind
of being talked down to I havent looked at this as a judge. I look at
the issues that are brought forward and its looking at possible
solutions to problemsthe judicial system doesnt wait on us to decide
what to do, and I dont think its prudent to wait on them if theres a
change that needs to be made.I appreciate you coming forward, but I
take a little personal offense at being told that I dont need to look
at any of this stuff until I hear a courts made a decision.
Our interactions with legislatorsbe they personal
visits, phone calls, e-mails or lettersare making a difference! Lets
keep up the pressure, and involve more people. It is our government, and
our duty to make it work for us. (Be sure to support
to make advancements on this issue a whole lot easier!)
On the day Hamilton spoke, the last day of the 2006
interims, the Subcommittee voted unanimously to pass the study
resolution. The next day, the entire Joint Judiciary Committee also
voted to pass it.
During the 2007 Legislative Session, SSP members
have walked the halls of our State Capitol. We've looked our
representatives in the eye, asking: Will you stand with us?
Will you support SCR 15,
the resolution for a study on sludge injections and how they have
impacted the water and the people of West Virginia? Will you
co-sponsor the Sludge Safety Bill to ban sludge injections and
impoundments and to study the dangers of existing impoundments?
|Crowding the hallway before the hearing. Over
40 Sludge Safety Project supporters attended the final Legislative
Interim hearing on coal slurry injection and groundwater
|Standing room only.
|Almost full attendance by Senators and
Delegates of the Subcommittee.
|Do not mess with these ladies' water!
|West Virginia Coal Association Vice President
Chris Hamilton speaks to the committee. He appeared shocked that the
Legislature would take up a coal-related item that the industry
itself didn't bring up. He said, "We are not sure how this came up."
You looking at me?
|Chuck Nelson speaks with a reporter after the