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Appeal, Lawsuit Planned Against Strip Mine Near Kanawha State Forest

Reported by: Send eMail Kera Mashek
Videographer: Shelby Spradling
Reported: Jul. 8, 2014 11:05 PM EDT
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Strip Mine Controversy
Eyewitness News Photo

Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia

New action and organization is now underway in the fight against a Kanawha County strip mine. The mine's been controversial for months, when the permit was first filed and it's all because of where that mine is located and the potential threats that brings.

The Keystone strip mine is now starting to take shape on a mountaintop right next to the Kanawha State Forest. The disruption to the park area is drawing fire from hundreds of people who live in the neighboring Loudendale area and environmentalists. Now, they're organizing an effort to stop the mining operation.

"We can see the mountain that's about to get cut off from our house and I don't want that to happen. I think that mountain is very pretty with all the trees and all of that is beautiful. I don't want it to be gone," a little girl named Chloe said.

Chloe bravely spoke out Tuesday night about her concerns with a new strip mine being built beside the Kanawha State Forest, and she's not alone. About 200 people turned out for a public meeting, many wondering why the state ever approved it.

"The permit application met all the requirements to be issued," said Dennis Stottlemyer, DEP Environmental Advocate.

But that's not a good enough reason for the local residents and environmentalists gathered Tuesday. They're pushing to get the mine's permit pulled and have an appeals hearing with the surface mine board is scheduled next month. A lawsuit is also in the works.

People who live near the Kanawha State Forest and those who frequent the park are concerned about these new blasting zones being so close to the trails, saying it could actually stop people from visiting the area and could leave people hurt.

"You can get onto these trails from inside the park. So even if they close off the shooting range road...how are they going to know if there are hikers or mountain bikers that've come in from another part of the park? How are they going to be able to keep them safe? And it certainly is a different experience using the forest when you hear big booms and hear heavy machinery clanking around," said Jim Waggy with the Kanawha Forest Coalition.

There are also concerns that this kind of strip mining operation could lead to more flooding with rain coming straight down the mountainside, along with reduced property values and more. This group just hopes that together their voices will be loud enough to stop the strip mining operation before any damage is done from pulling coal off the mountain.

Keystone, the company operating the mine, did not attend tonight's meeting and has not responded to requests for comment. Early work to build the strip mine is already underway, and keystone is planning to keep the mine in operation for at least 10 years.



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