Fourteen months after poorly regulated coal-washing chemicals contaminated the Elk River in West Virginia, coal country residents and supporters are gearing up for an epic showdown on March 16 with the state's Department of Environmental Protection -- and the U.S. Congress -- over the mounting death toll and health crisis from mountaintop removal strip mining.
Over the years, it has been sickening to watch politicians, coal company hacks and sycophantic journalists defer judgment and split hairs over the connections between massive mountaintop removal operations and public health hazards in the same way black lung disease for coal miners had been denied for decades.
As the onslaught of the nation's fast-growing coal-mining boom tears across the heartland, citizens in southern Illinois have filed a Writ of Mandamus in Federal District Court against the US Secretary of Interior, in an attempt to revoke the state's control over its notoriously inept and rogue mining agencies.
Despite an appeal over the controversial Rocky Branch strip mine permit still pending with an administrative judge, Peabody Energy defiantly crossed closed public roads and moved massive mining equipment in Saline County yesterday, in preparation to carry out its already violation-ridden and state-subsidized mine operation.
With the death toll still mounting at a coal mine in Turkey, another southern Illinois coal miner lost his life this week, along with two West Virginia miners. The state of Illinois, meanwhile -- called out at public hearings for a brewing coal ash catastrophe -- handed out a controversial permit for a Peabody Energy strip mine in southern Illinois.