Rising above a picturesque valley in southern West Virginia, like an oasis in the midst of coal country, Coal River Mountain represents the last, best hope for a community resisting the legacy of dirty energy in this part of Appalachia. For the past two years, local residents have been waging a fight against time -- and an industry behemoth -- to save their beloved mountain from the fate of mountaintop removal coal mining.
Mountaintop removal strip mining has leveled hundreds of other Appalachian peaks already, leaving scarred landscapes, polluted water and impoverished communities. But creative residents proposed a clean energy alternative that would keep the last remaining mountain in the Coal River valley intact. Their proposed wind farm would place 200 turbines on a ridge that would power more than 70,000 homes with clean electricity, provide hundreds of much-needed jobs and pump millions of dollars into the local economy through the project's construction and operation, as well as annual tax revenue.
Local politicians, however, have once again succumbed to industry influence by rejecting this obvious windfall to the community. Recently, Massey Energy -- the nation's fourth-largest coal company -- began blasting on Coal River Mountain in preparation for a massive mountaintop removal operation. (Click here to view aerial photos of the recent mining activity.) This mountain has the highest peaks ever slated for mining in the state; turning it into a pile of rubble would lower the elevation by several hundred feet, eliminating the height required to tap the wind speeds necessary to spin turbines.
West Virginia's governor has ignored requests to stop the blasting, but it's not too late for the Obama administration to step in and save Coal River Mountain from the fate of so many others in America's oldest mountain range.
Please take a moment to send a message right away urging the Obama administration to immediately halt the blasting on Coal River Mountain.
This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.