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The Charleston Gazette, October 27, 2009

Massey begins blasting on Coal River Mountain
By Ken Ward, Jr.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Massey Energy has begun blasting at its Bee Tree Surface Mine, a Coal River Mountain strip-mine operation environmentalists had promoted as a potential wind-energy production site and a symbol of their campaign against mountaintop removal coal mining.

Massey began blasting at the site last week, and had set off at least seven rounds of explosives by Thursday, according to state Department of Environmental Protection inspectors.

DEP officials have said Massey has all of the needed permits, and Gov. Joe Manchin has rejected pleas from local residents and environmental groups that he intervene and shut down the mine.

Massey has shown no interest in dropping its mountaintop-removal plans in favor of a wind facility, but environmentalists said this week they plan to continue promoting the idea.

"This mountain has enormous symbolic value, representing the crossroads we're at in our energy future," said Matt Wasson, director of programs for the group Appalachian Voices.

Environmental groups are urging supporters to call the White House and ask President Obama to call Manchin and urge the governor to intervene to stop Massey's operation.

Citizen groups argue that a windmill project would provide more long-term jobs without blasting apart the hilltops and burying nearby streams. The Massey operation has been among those targeted by growing peaceful protests by environmental activists from around the country.

In March, citizen groups lost an appeal of a permit change they said allowed Massey to mine without getting a federal Clean Water Act permit that would have required U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval.

Copyright 1996-2008 The Charleston Gazette

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton