Save Blair Mountain – Adkins Fork Press Release

Here is the press release in full, as well as links to the campaign video and our letter writing campaign:

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJPhBDykMZM

Campaign Info: http://blairmountain.org/letters-for-adkins-fork/

Press Release:

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 19, 2012

Contact: Brandon Nida

Organizer, Blair Mountain Heritage Alliance
304-583-5437
blairheritage@gmail.com

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Preservationists Initiate Campaign to Block Surface Mine Permit on Blair Mountain
Say Adkins Fork Permit will Destroy Important Part of the Battlefield

BLAIR, W.Va. — Community members, local organizations, and national groups are coming together in opposition to the renewal of an Arch Coal surface mine that threatens the Blair Mountain battlefield and town of Blair in Logan County, West Virginia.

The battlefield is where in 1921 the largest labor conflict in US history occurred. An estimated ten thousand coalminers fought for five days against a coal-operator backed army until federal troops were finally able to peaceably halt the conflict.

“The Adkins Fork permit would destroy one of the most important areas of the battlefield,” says Brandon Nida, an archaeologist from UC Berkeley and organizer with the Blair Mountain Heritage Alliance (BMHA) located in Blair. “From archaeological surveys, this is the one of the only areas we positively know was occupied by the miners. We’ve found ammunition from the miners, we know where they fought and died. This is some of the most hallowed ground in labor history.”

“The importance of this battle in both West Virginian and US history is enormous,” continues Nida. “It propelled the UMWA to become the backbone of the labor movement and helped them form the United Steelworkers and the United Autoworkers. This battle significantly shaped the course of the American 20th century.”

“As a West Virginian and a union steelworker, I feel it is extremely important to preserve this battlefield,” says BMHA board member Jeremy Hatfield. “Every work shift I go without an accident, every weekend I get to spend with my family, every day that I get to clock out after eight hours, I thank the miners that fought at Blair Mountain for those rights”.

The town of Blair already has had extensive mountaintop removal mining in the area, and the Spruce No. 1 surface mine is currently in operation above the community. Since the 1990s the town has dropped from a population of 700 to roughly 70 people today.

“This permit adds to the cumulative impacts for the Spruce Fork watershed which has an estimated 17,000 acres permitted or with current operations,” says Kenneth King, a local resident who has worked to preserve Blair Mountain for the last twenty years. “And its not just the environment, I’m also really concerned about how this is going to affect people’s health.” Recently, numerous peer-reviewed health studies have linked mountaintop removal mining to health hazards such as rare forms of cancer, respiratory issues, and birth defects. Last week, Patriot Coal, one of the largest surface mining companies in Appalachia, publicly recognized the impacts of surface-mining on nearby communities.

The Adkins Fork campaign is being initiated with a letter writing campaign during the WV DEP’s open comment period for the permit, which ends Nov. 23rd. “We need everyone to write in, but that is just the first step. This is going to be a tough campaign against one of the largest coal companies in the world. We need people to stay involved as we take this campaign to the national level,” says King.

More information about the letter writing campaign can be found at www.blairmountain.org

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