1. Call your electric utility and ask about their “green power” programs.
Fifteen utilities and four municipalities in Kentucky offer customers the ability to obtain electricity from renewable energy sources rather than from coal-fired power plants. By creating demand for non-coal powered electricity, you use your consumer clout to help transform the utility industry, one customer at a time! For more information about green power, contact your electric utility at the number on your electric bill or call the Public Service Commission at (502) 564-3940.
2· Ask your utility to stop purchasing coal from mountaintop removal and “area” mines in the Appalachian Region.
Typically, coal companies purchase coal from the lowest cost provider, regardless of how responsible or reckless that company’s health and safety or environmental record may be. By adding a note in your utility bill asking your utility to pledge not to purchase coal from mines using “mountaintop” or “area” mining methods in the Appalachian region, you let them know that you want whatever coal they do purchase to be mined in the most responsible manner.
3· Write to Governor Beshear and ask that he direct the Department of Mine Reclamation to rigorously enforce the requirements of the state and federal surface mining laws.
When Congress passed the Surface Mining Act in 1977, they anticipated that mining operations removing all of the rock, dirt, and vegetation above a coal seam and leaving that area flattened (so-called “mountaintop removal”) would be the exception, rather than the rule, and would only be approved if a specific post-mining land use were built. Weak enforcement of the law has resulted in a failure to require that all mined dirt and rock (called “spoil”) be returned to the mined site to the extent possible, with only the excess material placed in valley fills. Instead, thousands of tons of rock and dirt are end-dumped into valleys as a matter of economic convenience, and Congress’s goal of assuring that mined lands would be restored to productive use is ignored.
A letter to Governor Beshear, similar to the sample letter on the next page, will let him know that the public expects more from him than simply a continued destruction of Eastern Kentucky’s mountains and the indiscriminate filling of headwater streams. Feel free to use this letter or to write your own, and either mail it or email it by going to www.governor.ky.gov/contact/contact.htm
The Honorable Steven L. Beshear, Governor
700 Capitol Avenue, Suite 100
Frankfort, KY 40601
Dear Governor Beshear,
I am writing to ask that you take prompt and effective action to end the needless destruction of Eastern Kentucky’s mountains and headwater streams. Your Department of Mine Reclamation has the tools to greatly decrease both the ecological footprint of mining and the toll that it has taken on coalfield communities, yet decisive leadership has been lacking and is needed to fundamentally reform the regulation of mining.
To that end, I ask that you direct that:
1. mined lands be restored in elevation and aspect to approximate original contour;
2. mountaintop removal mines no longer be mischaracterized as “area” mines;
3. valley fills be required to be minimized in number and size by directing that excess mine spoil be placed on old mine benches wherever possible, and by using compacted, constructed fills rather than end and wing-dumped fills;
4. post-mining land uses (like “hayland / pasture”) no longer be approved where such uses are infeasible or unrealistic; and
5. mining companies be required to design mine plans to minimize disturbance rather than to maximize profit.
The public expects more from a Beshear Administration than a continued tolerance for mediocrity in mine planning and reclamation. Please do what is right to lessen the heavy footprint of coal on the land and people of the Commonwealth.
cc: Dr. Len Peters
Energy & Environment Cabinet
12th Floor, Capital Plaza Tower
Frankfort, KY 40601