Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
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October 2009
Contents

Major News: EPA May Do Its Job!
DEP Biologist: Agency Chief Huffmans Testimony to Congress Was Ill Informed

Thinking About Your Legacy: An Open Letter from Dr. Ken Hechler

Reflecting on EPAs Announcement
JOBS in the Coalfields, the Right Way
Families in Mingo Co. Sue Over Flooding
Asking the Highest Court in the Land to Hear Our Case
Dear Friends at OVEC
Lindytown - Threats, Dead Horses and Shattered Dreams As the Draglines Creep Ever Closer
Lindytown - From Nice Little Mountain Town to Virtual Ghost Town
EPA Moves to Block WVs Largest MTR Mining Permit
Corps Approves Controversial Permit Despite EPAs Objections
The Trail of Tears - History Is Repeating Itself in WV
Policy Efforts on Family Cemetery Protection Issues
Join the Cemetery Protection Group And Help Find Long-Term Solutions
Awareness is Where Its At
Please Pray for Webster County
Cook Family Cemeteries: Ancestors No Longer Rest In Peace Due to Mountaintop Removal Mining
Coal Slurry: New York Times Nails Clean Water Act Crimes (Many) and Punishment (None)
Victory! Public Water Lines Finally Coming to Prenter
Goodbye Patricia, Welcome Stephanie! - New Organizer Joins SSP Effort
WVU Studying Effects of Coal Slurry Injection on Health
Working to Reduce Coal Prep Plant Air Pollution
Six Southern WV Communities to Benefit from EPA Grant
Judge Thornsbury Disqualified from Presiding in Slurry Injection Case
Coal Country - the movie: Film Debuts To Packed Crowd After Concerns Almost Cancel Showing
Help End MTR and Help Coal Country Have a Party!
OVEC: Power With!
What Happens In Valleys Is As Important As What Happens On Mountain Peaks
Plundering Appalachia - The Book, Is Here!
Chemicals and Their Dangers Force People From Kanawha Valley
Clean Elections - Saving WV From Future Scandals
Why Manchin and Co. Dont Care About Health in the Coalfields
Eating For OVEC Keeps Raising $$$
Carbon Tax: Our ACES in the Hole for Real Change
Report: Global Warming Causes 300,000 Deaths A Year, Toll to Increase
Remembering Conley Branch - May It Always Be In My Heart
United Against MTR:
Red Bandanas, Dreadlocks, Clean-Cut, Old Folks and Young
TV News Fails to Cover Mountaintop Removal Well, Or At All
Nominations for OSM Chief
University Divesting of Massey Stock, Others May Follow
Toxic Legislation: Selenium at the Legislature; OVEC Appeal to EPA


For viewing the PDF version of the newsletter

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

Policy Efforts on Family Cemetery Protection Issues

The combined efforts of OVEC staff and our faith community allies obtained an important tool for helping to protect family cemeteries on private land.

 
A family cemetery in WV seems peaceful enough until you realize what is in the background - a mountaintop removal mining operation. How long will it be before this cemetery, too, simply 'disappears'?

The Catholic Social Ministries Office arranged a meeting with the Attorney Generals Consumer Division staff person, Jill Miles, to discuss gaining access to such cemeteries. Todd Garland of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and Jeff Allen from the West Virginia Council of Churches joined Carol Warren and Robin Blakeman in expressing concern about protecting sacred spaces and assuring citizens access to the resting places of their ancestors and loved ones.

The group explained that having access is important when there are industrial operations such as surface coal mining, timbering and oil and gas drilling taking place near a cemetery.

Being able to visit the cemetery allows family members to monitor the effects of the operations and make sure that the cemetery is not being damaged or undermined and that headstones are not being moved or destroyed. Those present pointed out that there are documented cases of cemeteries disappearing entirely or being "moved" without the familys knowledge.

The faith community strongly supports the protection of cemeteries as places of prayer and ritual that are important in remembering and honoring those who have gone before. Many people choose a location that they have loved as their resting place, and that choice should be respected.

West Virginia families often have a long history with a particular cemetery, with several generations of relatives being buried there.

Under the current law, if a person is denied access to a cemetery on private land, the only recourse is to take the landowner to court.

The purpose of the meeting was to seek an intermediate step by which the issue of access might be resolved. The Attorney Generals Consumer Division agreed to receive complaints from families being denied access through the same process by which it receives other consumer complaints.

This includes filling out the consumer complaint form, which can be found online at www.wvago.gov/pdf/general-consumer-complaint-form.pdf.

Much of the information on the form does not apply to cemetery access, but there is a section on the third page of the form where citizens can describe their problem and how they would like it resolved. One of the divisions mediators will then be assigned to the complaint.

On the legislative front, thanks to volunteer and staff efforts during the 2009 session and beyond, a Study Resolution on cemetery issues was assigned to Judiciary Subcommittee A.

OVEC staff have been in touch with House Judiciary Chair Carrie Webster and with the Subcommittee Co-Chairs Delegate Bonnie Brown (a co-sponsor of our 2009 legislation) and Senator Herb Snyder.

Both are supportive and have stated that the study resolution will be addressed during the interims.

We hope that a solid piece of legislation can be crafted for introduction in 2010.

 

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