Electricity for Our Homes: Wind Power or Mountaintop Removal

The Last Mountain: Mountaintop RemovalIn a world of rising energy prices, rising global temperatures, and rising sea levels, Americans are looking for clean and affordable energy. Yet under the influence of big energy companies, policy-makers are stubbornly clinging to the old, dirty fossil fuel technologies of the past. Along with global warming, mountaintop removal is an egregious example of the destructive impact of our addiction to coal.

For years I’ve been saying, “I would RATHER have our mountains than this extremely environmentally damaging coal industry, I will do everything within my power to get  off of the grid and make much wiser choices!”

View the Google Earth Tutorial to see what’s going on, the Appalachian Mountains are in our backyards… this IS the high cost of coal!

The Last Mountain: A Sundance Official Selection, The Last Mountain is described as, “…a passionate and personal tale that honors the extraordinary power of ordinary Americans when they fight for what they believe in. The Last Mountain shines a light on America’s energy needs and how those needs are being supplied. It is a fight for our future that affects us all.” Find theatre showings.

Wendell Berry has this to say about the clean coal industry…

Not a Vision of Our Future, But of Ourselves

The only limits so far honored by this industry have been technological. What its machines have enabled it to do, it has done. And now, for the sake of the coal under them, it is destroying whole mountains with their forests, water courses and human homeplaces. The resulting rubble of soils and blasted rocks is then shoved indiscriminately into the valleys. This is a history by any measure deplorable, and a commentary sufficiently devastating upon the intelligence of our politics and our system of education. That Kentuckians and their politicians have shut their eyes to this history as it was being made is an indelible disgrace. That they now permit this history to be justified by its increase of the acreage of “flat land” in the mountains signifies an indifference virtually suicidal. Continue reading.

Study Shows West Virginia Mountain Could be Permanent Power Source for 150,000 Homes

Unlike “One Shot” Despoiling of Mountain by Mountaintop Removal Mining, Utility-Scale Wind Farm Would Generate Ongoing Supply of Energy, Jobs and Taxes.

WHITESVILLE, W.Va., Aug. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire

Should Coal River Mountain — which stands as one of the last mountains still intact in the beautiful Coal River Valley of West Virginia — vanish as the result of 6,600 acres of strip mining and 18 valley fills that would increase the flooding of residents along the Clear Fork River? Or, should the site be devoted to developing large-scale wind power that would generate enough clean energy to keep the lights on in 150,000 homes while preserving the mountain for future economic and community use?

Massey Energy is seeking to use controversial mountaintop removal mining methods to destroy nearly 10 square miles of Coal River Mountain for the “one shot” removal of coal from the site. However, a new study based on the use of a wind speed model provided by national wind development modeling firm, WindLogics, and conducted by members of Appalachian Voices and Coal River Mountain Watch — outlines a strong new alternative in a 440-megawatt wind farm. The proposed wind farm would preserve Coal River Mountain while providing energy and much needed jobs for the Coal River Valley communities, forever.

The WindLogics study conducted for the Coal River Mountain Project shows that Coal River Mountain is ideal for utility-scale wind. “Coal River Mountain can accommodate 220 two-megawatt wind turbines — enough energy to power over 150,000 homes,” says Rory McIlmoil, campaign coordinator for the wind project. “You can\’t put wind power on a strip mine, because the wind patterns are impacted, and the land is rendered unstable for supporting wind-turbines.”

“We’re optimistic about the potential for local leaders to support this project and put Raleigh County on the map. This would be the biggest wind farm proposed on the East Coast, and could provide a model for other counties in West Virginia looking for affordable, clean energy and safe, healthy jobs in their own communities,” said Matt Noerpel of Coal River Mountain Watch.

Permit data shows that the mountaintop removal operation will only provide jobs and energy for 14 years, and will eliminate any potential for alternative economic development, such as wind energy. A wind farm, by comparison, would allow for other uses of the land that would benefit the local communities, like sustainable forestry, tourism, and the harvesting of ginseng and other wild plants.

“I live in the west end of the county, which has been heavily impacted by coal mining,” said Lorelei Scarbro of Rock Creek. “Our concern today is our homes, our environment and the sustainability of the environment. The house I live in and raised my children in, which my husband built and he is buried in the family cemetery next door, would be in danger from this mine. The wind farm would preserve the mountain.”

“Economic development is of the utmost importance, but concern for the well being of citizens is a priority. This wind farm could save local communities, people\’s lives, and our way of life, while also bringing new economic development to the area. This idea is an excellent alternative, and maybe the only alternative for our lands which are being permanently destroyed,” said local resident and former coal miner Chuck Nelson.

The proposed wind farm would generate over $20 million per year in direct local spending during construction and $2 million per year during the operational period. It would create 200-plus construction related jobs over the first two years, and 40-50 permanent on-site operation and maintenance jobs that would last as long as the wind farm exists. The project would also provide a minimum of $400,000 in State Tax Revenues, and between $750,000 and $3,000,000 in County Tax Revenues annually. Also, this wind farm could potentially provide the city of Beckley and the whole of Raleigh County with clean wind energy.

McIlmoil said: “The national conversation on energy and global warming makes it clear that America needs to start investing heavily in renewable energy, as well as get ourselves off foreign sources of energy. Carbon taxes could make coal more expensive in coming years, and West Virginia needs prepare itself by developing innovative, affordable, new sources of domestic energy before that happens.”

For information on the Coal River Mountain Wind study, visit Coal River Mountain “Resources“.


The Coal River Wind Project is a joint effort between Coal River Mountain Watch, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Appalachian Voices and the Student Environmental Action Coalition. Coal River Mountain Watch has been working for community preservation in the Coal River Valley for over 10 years.


Ailis Aaron Wolf, (703) 276-3265, or aawolf@hastingsgroup.com

Rory McIlmoil, (304) 854-2182 or rory@coalriverwind.org

Lorelei Scarbro, (304) 854-2182 or lorelei@crmw.net

EDITOR’S NOTE: Maps and other details about the proposed Coal River Mountain wind farm are available here.

SOURCE: Coal River Mountain Wind Project, Whitesville, WV; Co-op America

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