FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 15, 2012
COMMUNITIES LOCKED TO DIRTY WATER
The EPA Holds the Key to Clean, Healthy Water for Communities in TN, WV, VA & KY
April 15, 2013 — Appalachian citizens and allies from across the region are having a unified day of action at the regional EPA offices in Philadelphia and Atlanta to tell EPA that the state governments of Central Appalachia are failing to protect communities against devastating water pollution caused by surface coal mining. The EPA has the responsibility to stand up and protect the people of Central Appalachia.
Water contamination from surface mining is widespread throughout the region and under state regulatory regimes companies continue to destroy water resources. In Kentucky, 92% of the Big Sandy River is impaired by resource extraction. The state governments have lied about the widespread pollution and continually fail to hold the coal companies accountable.
“I live downstream of a surface mine and more times than I can count the creek outside of my home has run orange. Every time it has happened I’ve called the state government, but they have failed to act. This water contamination does not stop outside of my home. Downstream from my home is a public water intake–this contaminated water goes straight to peoples taps for their families to drink,” said Jimmy Hall. “We are at the headwaters of a stream,” said Elaine Tanner from Letcher County, Kentucky. “Jimmy and I have been trying to obtain safe drinking water for our community for several years. We just need the EPA to require the state of Kentucky to do the job we pay them to do.”
In Kentucky, citizens were forced to file a lawsuit against the state and 2 coal companies after they discovered tens of thousands of water violations that the KY government failed to pursue. State governments have shown willful neglect in enforcing the Clean Water Act and systematic failure to protect the people and places of Appalachia.
Chris Yonts, who lives up on Mill Creek in Letcher County, Kentucky, says: “The drinking water out of my tap runs black. I believe that clean, healthy drinking water is a right and my state government is denying me that right. The EPA has the tools to protect my water. We need the EPA to support the people of Appalachia.”
“A few months after the mining started on Zeb Mountain (Tennessee) my well water turned orange and we had to start buying bottled water. The EPA is the key to stop this – the EPA has the tools and the authority to protect the people and water of Appalachia” says Ann League from Tennessee.
The EPA is being called on to step up and protect US citizens from dangerous water pollution. In 2012 the EPA passed a conductivity guidance, however, it was reversed in the courts on a technicality. Based on the same science and facts that have already been established and proven the EPA needs to pass a strong rule creating a conductivity standard.
The EPA needs to do what state governments are failing to do, protect Appalachian communities and restore clean water protections. EPA holds the keys to unlock a brighter, healthier, and more prosperous future for Appalachia.
People from all over are standing with Appalachians today. Vincent Hall, a Sierra Club member from Atlanta, GA said, “Dirty Water is not limited to the Appalachian community. If the EPA does not exercise its authority to help the people of Appalachia, what will happen when environmental injustices occur in Atlanta? Clean water is a right and a necessity.”
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