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Mountain Top Removal for Coal Production in Kanawha County, West Virginia, USA

Residents roll back Keystone's Mountain Top Removal Plans in West Virginia in 2016. The fight against mountain top removal mining continues with great difficulty under the new Republican Administration.


In 2014, the KD#2 permit was granted by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP) to Keystone Industries for mountain top removal coal production activities. The permit relates to a tract of land situated between the eastern boundary of the Kanawha State Forest and the Kanawha River near Marmet, WV. The 5,000 acres were purchased in 2000 from then Senator Brooks McCabe by Tom Scholl, the owner of Keystone Industries. The mine is located within 588 feet of the Kanawha State Forest boundary and 1,500 feet of residential communities in Kanawha County including Loudendale, South Hills, Louden Heights, and Mt. Alpha, and the mine is being operated by Revelation Energy. The mine poses health and environmental risks to the communities surrounding the mountain top removal site including soil, sediment, and water contamination, flooding from increased surface water runoff from the mine site, noise and disturbance from blasting, birth defects, higher rates of pulmonary disease, cancer, and heart disease, and reduced life expectancy.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict: Mountain Top Removal for Coal Production in Kanawha County, West Virginia, USA
Country:translation missing: en.countries.united_states_of_america
State or province:West Virginia (WV)
Location of conflict:Marmot
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Coal extraction and processing
Specific commodities:Coal
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

Keystone Industries LLC received a permit for KD Surface Mine No. 2 on May 5, 2009 to begin surface coal mining operations on a 413-acre parcel owned by Florida resident and principle owner of Keystone Industries LLC Tom L. Scholl. The parcel is located near Kanawha County, West Virginia adjacent to two Revelation Energy surface mines and its estimated permit-life coal production was 7,320,420 tons of coal. Work on the surface mine was set to take place over eleven phases, over the course of 24 months.

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Project area:167
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:186,241
Start of the conflict:01/08/2014
End of the conflict:22/08/2016
Company names or state enterprises:Keystone Industries
Revelation Energy
Relevant government actors:State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Kanawha State Forest (KSF), Governor Tomblin, West Virginia Coal Association
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Kanawha Forest Coalition
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Recreational users
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
Other Environmental impactsincrease risk of flood due to runoff
Health ImpactsVisible: Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsbirth defects, pulmonary disease, cancer
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactsloss of property value
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Despite the ongoing damage to environmental health stemming from the mine, the Coalition's community activism brought a stop to the mining activities with only one fourth of the total area mined.
Mining operations continued for two years despite persistent data collection, appeals, and direction action by the KFC. Keystone Industries LLC carried out mining in 100 of the 413 acres with a faulty permit prior to the successful closure of the mine. The fight against mountain top removal mining continues with great difficulty under the new Republican Administration.
Sources and Materials
Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

New WV Senate Bill weakens water quality protections
[click to view]

Kanawha Forest Coalition (KFC)website
[click to view]

Keystone Industries ordered to stop all mining
[click to view]

WV mine halts operations
[click to view]

WV halts mining
[click to view]

Kanawha Forest Coalition Prevails in halting polluting strip mine:
[click to view]

August 2014 post-permit protests
[click to view]

Coalition applauds DEP order to stop mountaintop surface mining near Kanawha State Forest
[click to view]

West Virginia permanently halts coal mine by state forest
[click to view]

Other documents

Kanawha Protest Protesters gather in Charleston, WV
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Julie Snorek, [email protected]
Last update08/05/2017
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