Save Coal River Mountain, endangered Appalachian hope for wind energy.

Authors: Sandra Diaz, Appalachian Voices

Sandra Diaz is a Green For All Academy Fellow, class 2. She is also the National Field Coordinator for Appalachian Voices.

There is a new symbol of hope in the southern Appalachian coalfields, where mountaintop removal coal mining has ravaged the area, tearing apart communities and their mountains. But that symbol of hope is about to be literally blasted away.

Coal River Mountain is the last intact mountain in the Coal River Valley of southern West Virginia and local residents have rallied around the idea that this mountain can be saved and a sustainable economic future can be built - with wind power.

Investing in wind power on the peaks and ridges of Coal River Mountain would create enough wind potential to provide electricity for over 150,000 homes and would create a substantial number of skilled-labor jobs. A recent study also found that the proposed wind farm would help diversify the local economy in an area historically dependent upon temporary coal mining jobs, and would pump $20 million per year to the local economy in direct spending during construction and $2 million per year thereafter.

But Massey Energy, one the largest coal mining companies in central Appalachia, has started blasting on Coal River Mountain. The blasting is taking place near the Brushy Fork impoundment, an enormous retention pond holding 8.2 billion gallons of toxic coal slurry waste. Calls to West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin to stop the mining have gone unheard.

So now we have to take it to the next level, and by we, I mean all of us. President Obama simply should not allow Coal River Mountain and the Coal River Wind Project to be blasted to bits. He cannot talk about a new energy future and at the same time allow this tragedy to happen. There are thousands of youth and adults working on clean-energy issues, who are have taken his motto, “Yes, we can!” to heart. They have also taken the cause of building a wind farm on Coal River Mountain to heart as well.

The Coal River Wind Project is not just a symbol for the Appalachian coalfields, but for the nation as a whole. If we can help realize the wind potential on Coal River Mountain, we will then know our “win” potential to create a new energy future that is “Green for All”. This is a battle that a nation trumpeting out a message of change and hope cannot afford to lose.

Please go to http://www.ilovemountains.org/coalriver/ to take action today.

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