A U.S. District Court in Kentucky yesterday ruled in favor of clean water by halting the destruction of streams at Leeco Inc.’s Stacy Branch Coal Mine, near the town of Vicco. The decision ensures that Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, and the Appalachian Citizens Law Center, will get a decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals before Leeco Inc. can begin mining that directly impacts streams. At issue in the appeal is whether the Army Corps of Engineers, when issuing permits to large surface coal mines like this one, is allowed to ignore evidence that surface coal mining may cause cancer, birth defects, and other serious health problems.
Neil Gormley, Earthjustice attorney: “Families in eastern Kentucky can sleep easier tonight knowing this destructive mining has been put on hold. But this fight won’t be over until the government starts prioritizing people’s health as much as they do coal company profits.”
Lane Boldman, Sierra Club Kentucky Director: “We are enormously relieved that Appalachian communities and our streams will continue to be protected until our appeal can be decided on the merits. Numerous studies have shown that mountaintop removal mining poses a grave threat to the health of mountain residents, and the Army Corps of Engineers should fully address that issue before issuing permits allowing more of these highly destructive mines.”
Alice Whitaker, Director of the Lotts Creek Community School and Wellness Program and member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth: “As a teacher I work with children and families who are hoping they will be able to live their lives in eastern Kentucky. The impacts on their health from these mines needs to be taken very seriously as we try and look at the type of future we are creating for our students and their families.
“Therefore, we are relieved to hear that a hold was put on the destructive mining above our community. We cannot carry on the way we have in the past especially when job-creating alternative sources of energy are readily available. That’s how we can work towards a brighter future, and it starts with our leaders and regulatory agencies acknowledging the importance of the health and well-being of our communities.”