Open Comment Period: Pine Fork Surface Mine On Blair Mountain Battlefield

Update from Friends of Blair Mountain:
There is currently an open comment period for the Pine Fork surface mine  ( reference number LRH-2008-1104-GUY). The proposed permit would overlap the battlefield. This comment period is for the Corps of Engineers portion of the permit, and we have a strong chance at the federal level to stop this permit. We are asking you to send in your comments in support of the preservation of this valuable historical site.

The deadline for comment submissions is February 22nd, 2012 . It is important that you get your comments in by this time!

We have provided a sample letter below, but remember that it is always stronger if you put it in your words. So, do what you’re able and it will be a huge help. All the relevant information is below.

Sample Letter (including address to send it to)

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District
ATTN: LRH-OR-FE Public Notice No. LRH-2008-1104-GUY
502 Eight Street
Huntington, West Virginia 25701-2070

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to express my concern over the proposed operations on Pine Fork, referenced as LRH-2008-1104-GUY. My concerns encompass three distinct issues – 1) environmental cumulative impacts, 2) human health impacts, and 3) the immense significance of the Blair Mountain Battlefield.

To begin, the area around Pine Fork has already been heavily mined, with even more permits just starting up. Pine Fork is right now providing freshwater dilution to Dingess Run, which is already noted as a severely impaired stream. The coal seams in this area are also high in selenium, and if more gets into the waters it will have a significant negative impact on both wildlife and local residents.

Even more significant than environmental impacts, there is a growing body of scientific evidence correlating mining activity with adverse, long term human health impacts. Impacts are present from birth through adulthood, often resulting in a higher risk of disease related mortality. Many diseases have been shown to be present at elevated levels in adults compared to non-mining communities, including respiratory, kidney, cardiopulmonary, hypertension, musculoskeletal, urogenital, and gastrointestinal diseases. Cancer rates are doubled in these areas.

The Pine Fork permit is one of five permits that impact the Blair Mountain battlefield, which is eligible for listing on the National Register. The Pine Fork area has not had systematic archaeological work conducted at it. In addition, the very topography of the battlefield is an artifact in that is a critical element of the dynamics of the battle. In general, the Blair Mountain battlefield is one of the most important historical sites in the United States, and the Pine Fork will negatively impact the battlefield. All the other permits around the battlefield should be taken into consideration. Once an archaeological site is destroyed, it can never be replaced.

Because of these extremely significant issues with this permit, I respectfully request that it be denied. Thank you very much for your time.