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Local Residents Call Attention to Destructive Mining Practices

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 22, 2013

Local Residents Call Attention to Destructive Mining Practices
Sustainable Appalachian Stakeholders Meeting Held Outside Alpha Shareholders Meeting

Abingdon, Va. – A group of about 50 local residents and activists held an “Appalachian Stakeholders” rally today outside the Alpha Natural Resources annual shareholders meeting, to call attention to the harmful impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining on human health and communities. One of their immediate concerns is the proposed Coalfields Expressway, a four-lane highway that would be built using mountaintop removal mining and would largely bypass Appalachian communities.

The activists marched with signs showing two potential roads for the region’s future. One was a “Road to Ruin”, with poisoned water and sick families from mountaintop removal strip mining. The other is a path to a bright future for Appalachia, with healthy families, drinkable water and prosperous communities where strip mining is replaced with clean energy, secure jobs and sustainable economic growth.

Judy Needham of Appalachia, VA said, “We wanted to show there’s a better path for our families. Alpha’s long history of destroying Appalachian mountains, streams and communities can’t continue. We need healthier solutions that will safeguard our air, water and health.”

The Coalfields Expressway is a public-private partnership between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Alpha and Pioneer coal mining companies. The road threatens jobs by bypassing local business districts, poisons critical waterways through mountaintop removal coal mining and takes over private lands through eminent domain. Major controversy began when Virginia agreed to allow the companies to strip mine along the route, which was then significantly changed in order to maximize coal extraction.

“Alpha has no business building highways. This road was supposed to help local communities, but instead with Alpha’s involvement it now threatens our drinking water, recreation areas, private lands and local jobs,” said Ben Hooper of Norton, VA. “This partnership with Alpha is a disaster that has totally changed the route of the road by moving it away from communities that need transportation solutions in order to maximize Alpha’s profits from our public tax dollars and private lands.”

The demonstration aimed to put a human face on Alpha’s practices that harm families in Virginia and throughout Appalachia.

Organizers hope the event will bring greater scrutiny to the Coalfields Expressway project as they urge the Federal Highway Administration to take a closer look at how the road has changed since coal companies like Alpha were brought in, significantly changing the nature of the project.

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