Appeals Court Reverses Ban on Mountain Top Removal
In 2007, when Federal District Judge Robert Chambers ordered an injunction on valley fills because they violate the Clean Water Act, Dorsey Green, who lived next to one of the blocked fills, was ecstatic.
“I am so thankful for this ruling. I’ve been a coal miner my whole life and this valley fill would have destroyed my homeplace and everything I have worked for. This ruling will restore my sleep – and my retirement years.”
Tragically, the relief of coal field residents ended on Friday the 13th when the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Chambers’ decision. The reversal marks the third time that the 4th Circuit has reversed a Federal Judge’s decision that would end mountain top removal.
One Coalfield activist had this to say about the decision:
The 4th circuit has just signed a death warrant for those of us being blasted and poisoned by strip mining. I can’t believe that these men –here in America-would continue to allow the men, women and children living in mining communities to live in this hell–. Today the coal industry –aided by coal corrupt government–is allowing our water to be poisoned but tomorrow it will be the east coasts water supply as the mining discharges will reach downstream water sources. Everyone lives downstream. Shame on the 4th circuit.
The 4th Circuit is infamous for its right-wing leanings. It was “stacked” by Reagan and Bush I with corporate yes-men.
Opponents of mountain top removal must now rely on the executive and legislative branches for change. And since the 4th Circuit’s reversal will probably lead to the immediate authorization of permits backlogged since the Chamber’s decision, change must come quick while there is something left to save in Appalachia.