Letter to Alpha Natural Resources

UPDATE: There’s now two letters on this page.  The first one is signed by Coal River Mountain Watch, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards and the RAMPS campaign.  The second letter is from Sam Broach, the president of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards.


Letter No. 1:

To Alpha Natural Resources:

We write to you today as a group of concerned citizens and victims of the irresponsible mining practices of Massey Energy in the Coal River Valley of West Virginia. We demand that with your purchase of Massey Energy, you stop surface mining on Coal River Mountain and on all other permitted mountaintop removal sites. We demand that you work with the communities that are impacted by your company’s operations and begin to restore Appalachia after the devastation it has suffered.

The communities that live on and around Coal River Mountain have used it to hunt, dig roots, gather wild plants and explore for generations. Air and water pollution from mountaintop removal mining causes asthma, cancer, and gall bladder disease in our communities. We would like to invite your management and employees to come enjoy this place with us and to see for yourselves what surface mining has done to us, so you can understand why it is so crucial to immediately cease these destructive mining practices.

There are ways your company can responsibly profit from Coal River Mountain. In 2007, a study, which we have enclosed with this letter, determined it is possible to place wind turbines generating 328 MW of energy on Coal River Mountain, enough to power 70,000 West Virginia homes and create jobs that won’t disappear after the coal has been mined. Meetings regarding this study demonstrated strong community support for this option over continuing to surface mine Coal River Mountain. There is also strong national support for this; the campaign for the wind farm on Coal River Mountain was featured in the New York Times in August, 2010. We fear that this possibility will be forever foreclosed if the leveling of Coal River Mountain continues.

Kayford Mountain used to be a thriving community, with general stores, farms, and more. Now, mountaintop removal and the depopulation that accompanies it has devastated the land that so many people hold dear. Studies have shown that Kayford Mountain would have had great potential as a wind farm if its ridges still existed- but they have been dropped hundreds of feet.  It is far past time energy companies help develop a local economy based around long lasting jobs that do not destroy the environment, as Kayford Mountain has been destroyed.

In the words of our late friend and champion Judy Bonds, “In Southern West Virginia we live in a war zone. Three and one-half million pounds of explosives are being used every day to blow up the mountains. Blasting our communities, blasting our homes, poisoning us, trying to intimidate us. I don’t mind being poor. I mind being blasted and poisoned.”

In fact, with our mountains and streams intact, we do not feel poor. We become impoverished when our mountains are destroyed; our water and air are poisoned; and our birthrights and culture are obliterated by mining.

Alpha Natural Resources has the opportunity to become the nation’s most forward-looking energy company by ending mountaintop removal in the Coal River Valley and in every other watershed where Massey has been practicing this destructive form of coal mining.  It is time to work with the community instead of against us.


Coal River Mountain Watch

Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards

the RAMPS campaign



Letter No. 2:

To Alpha Natural Resources:

As President of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards it is our duty to demand that Alpha Resources stop the destruction of our mountains, our water, and the air we breathe here in Southwest Virginia. The first thing that a company should consider is the people not the profit. You wouldn’t be the huge company that you are if you didn’t have people that looked to the future for the company. What we are asking is that you be a good neighbor and look to the future for the good of the people in the area. As you know Massey doesn’t have a good record of trying to be that good neighbor. Why now plow some new ground here for your future and the future of our children. Don’t destroy the mountains that could possibly be sites for wind turbines because you, I, and the forecasters know that coal will run out one day and a lot of folks WILL be in the dark then. Let’s try to work together before it’s too late to save our water, too late to clean the air, and too late to save the future of our heritage.

I would hope that one day our children and grandchildren can look back and say they worked together to make sure we had a future here in Southwest Virginia. It would be terrible, instead, if our children said “What Were They Thinking”?

It’s better to leave a legacy behind that says we were “caring and creative” than one that says “they were destructive and greedy”.

Thank you

Sam Broach, President Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards

“Our lives begin to end
the day we become silent about
things that matter.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.