Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
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August 2009
Contents

Floods ... Again
OVEC Organizer Wins International Recognition with Green Nobel
JOBS and Energy Answers for Our WV Mountain Communities
Picnic for Green JOBS
MTR Mining Equipment Taken Off Gauley Mountain For Now
Board Adds Conditions to Disputed Fayette County Mine Permit
Lets Make Sure the Transition to a Clean, Green Energy Future in WV is a Peaceful One
Calling All Potential New OVEC Board of Directors Members!
Congress Doesnt Always Want to Come CLEAN
The CLEAN Citizens Leading For Energy Action Now
American Clean Energy Security Act: Coal Rewarded
Good Gosh, We Could Have Used That Money to Jump Start the Clean Energy Future in America!
Slurry Lawsuit Settlers Frustrated With Wait for Money
Mountains Aided With First-Ever Fundraising Concert in North Carolina
Sludge Safety Project Legislative Session Wrap-Up
DEPs Sludge Study Results: Agency Still Dont Know Nuthin
OVEC Organizer Testifies at Senate MTR Hearing
Thanks for All the Volunteers Who Helped After the Floods
Fighting For Our Ancestors Resting Places
Lobbying for Green Jobs in DC
Growing Movement Demands Protection for Mountains, Climate, Humanity
Environmental Groups Ask EPA to Take Over WV Pollution Permitting
Byrds Eye View: Staffers Get Close-Up Views of Mountain Range Removal
A Good Win in A Critical Federal Court Case Against MTR
Judicial Bill Pulled by Governor
Supreme Court Case Makes WV A National Laughingstock
Eating For OVEC Keeps Raising $$$
Photovoice Participants Capture their Communities in Images
Photovoice Exhibitions Well Covered By Local and Statewide Media
You Dont Have to Go to Copenhagen to Make a Difference
Obama and Mountaintop Removal Mining: The Roller Coaster Ride
New CD Celebrates Coalfield Resistance to Mountaintop Removal
Blair Mountain and the National Register of Historic Places
Ashford Yesterday, Today and Maybe Tomorrow?
Come Home to West Virginia? Buyer Beware!
Louv-ley Day in Charleston
Who Are They Kidding?
Web Extras:
Open Letter to Governor Manchin about Blair Mountain
Matewan, West Virginia


For viewing the PDF version of the newsletter

 
Winds of Change Newsletter, August 2009     See sidebar for table of contents

Sludge Safety ProjectSludge Safety Project Legislative Session Wrap-Up

by Natalie Vanderpool, SSP Legislative Coordinator Intern

The 2009 Legislative Session was a hopeful time for the Sludge Safety Project (SSP). We made significant strides to further legislation and to raise awareness about the threat of coal sludge to our drinking water supplies and our communities.

Legislators introduced two bills pertinent to SSP. One, introduced by Sen. Randy White, would have placed a moratorium on underground coal slurry injection until it was proven safe. Sen. Mike Green, chairman of the Energy, Industry and Mining committee refused to bring the bill up for discussion, so it died in committee.

 
SSP supporters at one of several press conferences and hearings held the past few months.

Delegate Mike Manypenny introduced the House bill, which would have banned production of all coal slurry and required dry processing methods. This bill was unfortunately introduced too late to have a fair chance.

The fact that two bills were introduced to ban coal slurry in West Virginia (one on each side of the Legislature) is important because it put our issue back in the legislative and public spotlights. Just a few years ago legislators didnt even want to talk about coal slurry; now they are taking a stand against contaminated water and for public health because of the organizing of SSP supporters!

When Sen. White introduced his bill, he gave a moving speech and drank a bottle of brown, tainted water. White told his fellow senators that if people in southern West Virginia have to drink water that looks and smells awful, then legislators at the capitol should, too! He gained public attention and helped to educate legislators on the importance of the issue.

We also succeeded in keeping the heat on the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Due to our lobbying efforts, DEP Secretary Randy Huffman gave a "preliminary report" on the SCR-15, the study of coal slurry injection SSP won in 2007. DEP had missed three deadlines to conclude the study, so Huffman was grilled by legislators on the Judiciary Committee.

At this meeting, Dr. Ben Stout from Wheeling Jesuit University was able to show the committee his own findings and a scientific, rather than political, side of the story.

SSPs citizen lobbyists provided education and the political will to move this issue forward this legislative session. We made sure that all legislators knew of the dangers of sludge contamination and that there are alternatives! Many times, we heard legislators quoting our words when they spoke with DEP officials.

We held two successful press conferences during the 2009 Legislative Session, the first of which highlighted the release of our SSP Citizens Report on Underground Sludge Injection. You can find a copy of the report at ohvec.org/sludgesafety. We compiled existing data, including the DEPs own data from the SCR-15 study that the agency had yet to release. (See related story, DEPs Sludge Study Results: Agency Still Dont Know Nuthin, page 9.)

As the 2009 Interims progress, we are working on gathering commitments so we have co-sponsors at the start of the 2010 Legislative Session. We have a fair number of legislators on our side already, but we must keep fighting the good fight and gain supporters.

Thanks so much to everyone who helped SSP make significant progress for the future health and safety of all West Virginians. Thank you to everyone who lobbied, made calls, wrote letters, forwarded e-mails, and offered encouragement.

We refuse to give up; we will not tolerate contaminated water. We will continue to stand up for our water and our health, and we will make sure we are heard.

 

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