Patriot to Phase out MTR

Today, November 15, in federal court in Huntington, W.Va., Patriot Coal Corporation announced its intention to immediately begin phasing out all large scale surface mining in Appalachia. The announcement follows an historic agreement with the Sierra Club, OVEC and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, so ably represented by attorneys from Appalachian Mountain Advocates. We owe a huge thank you to AppalMAD! (Help thank them by attending their November 17 fundraiser; info below.)

Along with its commitment to end large scale surface mining in the region, the company also acknowledged the impact this destructive form of mining has on local communities and announced its commitment to reduce its environmental footprint. Patriot is among the largest mountaintop removal coal mine operators in Appalachia.

Patriot will also retire significant infrastructure required to perform mountaintop removal mining, including the dragline at its Catenary mine complex on Kayford Mountain, which will be retired immediately, and the dragline at its Hobet mine complex (pictured below, chewing up Berry Branch in Lincoln County, W.Va.), which will be retired in 2015.

In a statement read in court, Patriot CEO Ben Hatfield said:

Patriot Coal has concluded that the continuation or expansion of surface mining, particularly large scale surface mining of the type common in central Appalachia, is not in its long term interests. Today’s proposed settlement commits Patriot Coal to phase out and permanently exit large scale surface mining and transition our business primarily toward underground mining and related small scale surface mining.

Patriot Coal recognizes that our mining operations impact the communities in which we operate in significant ways, and we are committed to maximizing the benefits of this agreement for our stakeholders, including our employees and neighbors. We believe the proposed settlement will result in a reduction of our environmental footprint.

This settlement is consistent with Patriot Coal’s business plan to focus capital on expanding higher margin metallurgical coal production and limiting thermal coal investments to selective opportunities where geologic and regulatory risks are minimized.

Patriot Coal urges the Court to approve the settlement because it strengthens the Company’s ability to continue operating with our nearly 4000 employees, and significantly increases the likelihood that we will emerge from the chapter 11 process as a viable business, able to satisfy our environmental and other obligations.

OVEC founder Dianne Bady said, "We hope that this agreement, while holding Patriot responsible for its legacy of mining pollution, puts the company in a strong enough financial condition, through its underground mining, that it can honor its obligations to its retirees and workers."

Read more here. (Dragline photo: Vivian Stockman) Return to Index Take Action
You can keep up the pressure and help speed up the end of mountaintop removal coal mining by taking the following actions:

1. The ILoveMountains website has an action you — and everyone you forward the information to — can take right now. Click here to tell President Obama, "No More Excuses, End Mountaintop Removal Now."

2. Folks working to save Blair Mountain in Logan County, W. Va., are in the midst of a campaign to challenge and block Arch Coal’s attempt to renew the Adkins Fork permit on the mountain.

This permit is one of the most significant, as it lies in the heart of the battlefield and is the permit closest to the town of Blair.

Watch a video here, and then take the first step in this campaign by writing a letter to the WV Department of Environmental Protection by November 23. For greatest impact, please take the time to compose your own letter and mail it (rather than e-mail). Click here for all the info you need to write your own letter (or cut and paste, print and mail the sample letter if you just don't have time to compose your own). This is just the first step of the campaign, so stay tuned. Return to Index AppalMAD Event November 17
We urge you to thank the good folks at Appalachian Mountain Advocates by attending their November 17 fundraiser in Lewisburg, W.Va. The afternoon of poetry, music and discussion runs from 3 to 6 p.m.

OVEC board member and Affrilachian poet Crystal Good will read poetry and lead a discussion and the Black Twig Pickers will provide lively music. AppalMAD will serve regional autumn appetizers, along with beer, wine and fresh-pressed cider.

Suggested donations for this special event are $75. Note that there is a special rate offered to OVEC members; reply to this e-mail for details. If you can't attend, you can still thank AppalMAD for their great work by clicking here to donate online or sending a check to Appalachian Mountain Advocates, P.O. Box 507, Lewisburg, WV 24901.

Find more upcoming events on OVEC's online calendar, and e-mail any events you would like us to consider posting online to: [email protected]. Return to Index Feeling Thankful
Speaking of thanks, we have so much to be thankful for as we begin the holiday season with today's great news, which comes as OVEC celebrates 25 years of organized voices and empowered communities. We sure are thankful for all the support OVEC members and friends have given us during these 25 years.

Many members and supporters turned out for our 25th Birthday Bash, held on October 27. Thanks to everybody who came out and thanks to every group and individual who took out an ad in our 25th Birthday Bash program.

Thanks to you, we are making positive change for our region.