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Transcript of the Hearing

 

Meeting Four: Is Coal Slurry Poisoning Well Water?

January 9, 2007
Photos by Vivian Stockman

(Click here to read about the first meeting, here for the second and here for the third.)

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 legislators. 

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 Clean Elections 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?

Please help the Sludge Safety Project.

Crowding the hallway before the hearing. Over 40 Sludge Safety Project supporters attended the final Legislative Interim hearing on coal slurry injection and groundwater contamination.
Crowding the hallway before the hearing. Over 40 Sludge Safety Project supporters attended the final Legislative Interim hearing on coal slurry injection and groundwater contamination.

Standing room only.
Standing room only.

Almost full attendance by Senators and Delegates of the Subcommittee.
Almost full attendance by Senators and Delegates of the Subcommittee.

Do not mess with these ladies' water!
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?
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 hearing.
Chuck Nelson speaks with a reporter after the hearing.

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