Posted by: wjlayton | December 15, 2011

And the (Legislative) Rider’s Name was Mountaintop Removal . . .

Two things happened within the last week to put mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR) in the news. Oddly enough, the first came to my attention when I returned to the office after a meeting in which I happened to mention that MTR hadn’t been in the news since the EPA objected to 19 mining permits  back in September.

Returning to my desk, I decided to check the latest news from the budget debates in the House of Representatives, and saw that, among many other anti-environment riders (additional items attached to a bill, which may have little or nothing to do with the original bill), was a provision to prohibit the EPA from creating or enforcing stream buffer A Mountaintop Removal Site: For perspective, note the house-sized rules at surface coal mining sites. Stream buffer zone rules stipulate that land may not be disturbed within 100 feet of a stream, and are of some help in protecting watersheds from the effects of mountaintop removal mining. Thankfully, this rider, and most of the worst anti-environment riders, did not get included in the final version of the budget bill, but the incident serves as a reminder that God’s mountains and flowing streams, and the homes, health, and livelihoods of our neighbors in Appalachia, continue to be vulnerable to attacks by proponents of mountaintop removal mining.

Almost simultaneously, a new scientific study was published in the prestigious peer reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study, by researchers at Duke University, offers more strong evidence of the destructive effects of MTR on water quality, and thus on everything and everyone downstream from MTR sites. You can read the full text of the study here.

Now is the time to speak out as faithful voices against the destruction of our Creator’s majestic mountains and the polluting of the homes of some of our most vulnerable neighbors. To help the NCC take action against mountaintop removal, sign our petition to stop this destructive, unjust practice. You can also share our new worship resource  on MTR with your faith community.

For more information, contact me, Will, at



  1. THANKS so much for raising awareness about the continual vulnerability of “my” mountains and streams; I’m a West Virginia resident who has painfully watched the increasingly rabid attack on the mountains and streams I love, as well as the culture of the place I call “home” (where my family has lived for 8 generations). It will take people from beyond my state and region calling their elected representatives in order to get the help that they need. It is a sad reality that we live with – in West Virginia and Central Appalachia – that the politicians owe their souls and their votes to the Coal industry. They don’t listen to the needs and pleas of average people who are getting sick and dying, getting forced off their property, and watching the places they love and depend upon for life get destroyed everyday. Please help us stop MTR!

  2. […] Mountain Top Removal coal mining: Will Layton, from the NCC Eco-Justice Programs, blogs about recent updates regarding MTR (including the fact, thankfully, recent budget struggles did not include the feared anti-environmental  riders, like the one on MTR): […]

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