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 Mountain Top Removal for Coal Production in Kanawha County, West Virginia, USA
CountryUnited States of America
ProvinceWest Virginia (WV)
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 CommoditiesCoal
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsKeystone 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.

Project Area (in hectares)167
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population186,241
Start Date01/08/2014
End Date22/08/2016
Company Names or State EnterprisesKeystone Industries
Revelation Energy
Relevant government actorsState Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Kanawha State Forest (KSF), Governor Tomblin, West Virginia Coal Association
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersWest Virginia Rivers Coalition, Kanawha Forest Coalition
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Recreational users
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-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
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
Otherincrease 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
Otherbirth defects, pulmonary disease, cancer
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Otherloss of property value
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Project cancelled
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.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

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

West Virginia permanently halts coal mine by state forest
[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]

Other Documents

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

Meta Information
ContributorJulie Snorek, [email protected]
Last update08/05/2017