MTR opponents call for permits to be stopped

MTR removal opponents gathered in Charleston Monday.
MTR removal opponents gathered in Charleston Monday.


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — “Stop issuing permits!” was heard in front of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Headquarters in Charleston Monday in an effort to end mountaintop removal permits throughout the state.

The People’s Foot, a coalition of groups, hosted the “Put Your Foot Down” rally to fight against the issuing of permits that allow the coal industry to blast mountains with high explosives that release particles of silica, aluminum, and molybdenum dust that results in health issues.

Maria Gunoe, a community outreach organizer for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, said the removals promote the growth of lung cancer cells, causes asthma, and heart defects in children. Gunoe said on average, there are 4,000 people a year that lose their lives because of the impacts of MTR.

“It needs to end. It’s killing people in communities. The only people it’s unaffected by is our politicians,” said Gunoe.

According to a November study conducted by the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, the dust that was collected throughout Coal River Valley and the community were exposed to human lung cell tissue. The study showed an immediate change that promotes the growth of tumors in human lungs.

“We don’t need any more research. That’s just a delay tactic. They have 25 plus peer reviewed research papers that are previewed by scientists all over the country that says this is real and it needs to end, so let’s just stop it,” said Bo Webb, leader of the Appalachian Community Health Emergency.

Webb blamed the coal industry for much of the mountaintop removals. He said the industry should not have to blow up mountains to get coal. He said there should be an effort to go underground to get it instead.

“You cannot be threatening and killing innocent citizens,” said Webb, “We are the people and we’ve had enough. It’s time for our government to act.”

The rally featured other speakers who communicated their frustration with the issuing of MTR permits by blaming the DEP and coal industry workers for not taking their jobs seriously. For that reason, Webb said The People’s Foot are going to keep the pressure up until the DEP acts.

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