Wind or Mountaintop Removal?: Study Shows West Virginia Mountain Could be Permanent Power Source for 150,000 Homes

2008-08-19 08:30:00




    Unlike "One Shot" Despoiling of Mountain by Mountaintop Removal Mining,

Utility-Scale Wind Farm Would Generate Ongoing Supply of Energy, Jobs and

Taxes.



    WHITESVILLE, W.Va., Aug. 19 /EMWNews/ -- Should Coal

River Mountain -- which stands as one of the last mountains still intact in

the beautiful Coal River Valley of West Virginia -- vanish as the result of

6,600 acres of strip mining and 18 valley fills that would increase the

flooding of residents along the Clear Fork River? Or, should the site be

devoted to developing large-scale wind power that would generate enough

clean energy to keep the lights on in 150,000 homes while preserving the

mountain for future economic and community use?



    Massey Energy is seeking to use controversial mountaintop removal

mining methods to destroy nearly 10 square miles of Coal River Mountain for

the "one shot" removal of coal from the site. However, a new study based on

the use of a wind speed model provided by national wind development

modeling firm, WindLogics, and conducted by members of Appalachian Voices

and Coal River Mountain Watch -- outlines a strong new alternative in a

440-megawatt wind farm. The proposed wind farm would preserve Coal River

Mountain while providing energy and much needed jobs for the Coal River

Valley communities, forever.



    The WindLogics study conducted for the Coal River Mountain Project

(http://www.coalriverwind.org) shows that Coal River Mountain is ideal for

utility-scale wind. "Coal River Mountain can accommodate 220 two-megawatt

wind turbines -- enough energy to power over 150,000 homes," says Rory

McIlmoil, campaign coordinator for the wind project. "You can't put wind

power on a strip mine, because the wind patterns are impacted, and the land

is rendered unstable for supporting wind-turbines."



    "We're optimistic about the potential for local leaders to support this

project and put Raleigh County on the map. This would be the biggest wind

farm proposed on the East Coast, and could provide a model for other

counties in West Virginia looking for affordable, clean energy and safe,

healthy jobs in their own communities," said Matt Noerpel of Coal River

Mountain Watch.



    Permit data shows that the mountaintop removal operation will only

provide jobs and energy for 14 years, and will eliminate any potential for

alternative economic development, such as wind energy. A wind farm, by

comparison, would allow for other uses of the land that would benefit the

local communities, like sustainable forestry, tourism, and the harvesting

of ginseng and other wild plants.



    "I live in the west end of the county, which has been heavily impacted

by coal mining," said Lorelei Scarbro of Rock Creek. "Our concern today is

our homes, our environment and the sustainability of the environment. The

house I live in and raised my children in, which my husband built and he is

buried in the family cemetery next door, would be in danger from this mine.

The wind farm would preserve the mountain."



    "Economic development is of the utmost importance, but concern for the

well being of citizens is a priority. This wind farm could save local

communities, people's lives, and our way of life, while also bringing new

economic development to the area. This idea is an excellent alternative,

and maybe the only alternative for our lands which are being permanently

destroyed," said local resident and former coal miner Chuck Nelson.



    The proposed wind farm would generate over $20 million per year in

direct local spending during construction and $2 million per year during

the operational period. It would create 200-plus construction related jobs

over the first two years, and 40-50 permanent on-site operation and

maintenance jobs that would last as long as the wind farm exists. The

project would also provide a minimum of $400,000 in State Tax Revenues, and

between $750,000 and $3,000,000 in County Tax Revenues annually. Also, this

wind farm could potentially provide the city of Beckley and the whole of

Raleigh County with clean wind energy.



    McIlmoil said: "The national conversation on energy and global warming

makes it clear that America needs to start investing heavily in renewable

energy, as well as get ourselves off foreign sources of energy. Carbon

taxes could make coal more expensive in coming years, and West Virginia

needs prepare itself by developing innovative, affordable, new sources of

domestic energy before that happens."



    For information on the Coal River Mountain Wind study, visit

http://www.coalriverwind.org. Additional resources are available under the

"Resources" tab and throughout the website.



    ABOUT COAL RIVER WIND PROJECT



    The Coal River Wind Project is a joint effort between Coal River

Mountain Watch, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Appalachian Voices

and the Student Environmental Action Coalition. Coal River Mountain Watch

has been working for community preservation in the Coal River Valley for

over 10 years.



    CONTACTS: Ailis Aaron Wolf, (703) 276-3265, or

aawolf@hastingsgroup.com; Rory McIlmoil, (304) 854-2182 or

rory@coalriverwind.org; and Lorelei Scarbro, (304) 854-2182 or

lorelei@crmw.net.



    EDITOR'S NOTE: Maps and other details about the proposed Coal River

Mountain wind farm are available at

http://www.coalriverwind.org/?page_id=9.





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