Black Warrior River Mining Petition Denied in Flawed Decision


Shepherd Bend, Black Warrior River, AL | © Nelson Brooke

© Nelson Brooke

Tell the University of Alabama, the major owner of land and mineral rights at the proposed mine site, to say NO to Shepherd Bend Mine.

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Recently, we posted a blog from the Black Warrior Riverkeeper talking about the support that has been growing in the basin for protection of the river against coal mining. The Black Warrior River provides drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people near Birmingham, Alabama. American Rivers listed the Black Warrior as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2013 due to this threat.

Last week, the Alabama Surface Mining Commission (ASMC) refused to declare 40,300 acres of land adjacent to the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River as off limits to coal mining, missing a historic opportunity to protect the drinking water source for 200,000 residents in the greater Birmingham area.

Black Warrior Staff Attorney Eva Dillard commented, “It is a shame that state regulatory agencies are not doing more to ensure that the citizens of Birmingham have a safe, dependable and affordable supply of drinking water, both now and for the future.”

Riverkeeper Nelson Brooke believes: “This stretch of river deserves full protection as a vital source of water, and as a recreation resource for the general public. The state should not be allowing companies to discharge water pollution from coal mines into the daily source of water for 200,000 greater Birmingham-area drinking water consumers.”

Black Warrior Riverkeeper filed a petition with the ASMC on September 10, 2012 to designate this area as unsuitable for coal mining under a provision of Alabama’s Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, which was specifically enacted to preserve public resources like drinking water. The designation is required when surface mining could potentially result in a substantial loss or reduction in the long range productivity of the water supply.

Riverkeeper submitted extensive public comments and evidence to support their petition, including an analysis of Birmingham Water Works Board water quality data, as well as preliminary data recently compiled by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management demonstrating that even after reclamation occurs, surface coal mining has negative effects on downstream water quality.

Citing concerns about potential treatment cost hikes or even an inability to treat the water under certain circumstances, the Birmingham Water Works Board intervened in the petition process to represent their concerns about the impacts of surface coal mining on source water quality.

John Kinney, Enforcement Coordinator for Black Warrior Riverkeeper notes that “After initial review, it appears the ASMC severely misinterpreted the available data as well as the standard of review for the petition.” Despite the fact that ASMC made a flawed decision, Riverkeeper will continue to oppose current and potential threats to the largest water source for Alabama’s largest city.

Meanwhile, in a separate effort, Riverkeeper and a growing coalition remain steadfast in their opposition to the proposed Shepherd Bend Mine. The ASMC has granted the Shepherd Bend Mine a permit – still contested – to mine across from the same Birmingham Water Works Board intake that Riverkeeper sought to protect with its Lands Unsuitable for Coal Mining Petition.

Urge the University of Alabama System, the major owner of land and mineral rights at Shepherd Bend, to oppose this threat to a major drinking water source!

24 Responses to “Black Warrior River Mining Petition Denied in Flawed Decision”

Freddie DiPlacido

Please oppose the Shepherd Bend Mine permit. Surface coal mining has negative effects on downstream water quality.

    Dr. Joel C. Brothers

    Where is the EPA in all of this? Isn’t this part of their function? And why has the ASMC not been sued by the residents of Birmingham?

    I’m glad I don’t live there. I would move.

      Stephanie

      Rivers connect vast areas & cannot be isolated to one area. This coal mining Right next to a major river is the most ignorant, evil, idea I have heard of! I think it will be pretty hard for 200,000 people to just move. WE need to make those in charge realize that a lot of people every where will NOT put up with this rape of OUR lands, NO MATTER WHERE THEY MAY BE!!!

Alice Dugar

A new born baby’s body is 90% water. How important it is that the water not be contaminated with toxic leachate of mine tailings.

Alice Dugar

I urge the University of Alabama System to oppose this mining permit that will create a threat to drinking water.

Christopher Kirchwey

lease do not allow coal mining on the land you control.

Tom Brinkman

Please oppose the Shepherd Bend Mine permit. Surface coal mining has negative effects on downstream water quality. Hillside runoff and underground seepage will easily reach the river and the fresh water intake for Birmingham. This must be obvious. -

C. J. Aldrich

Unless we all pay close attention to threats to our environment, big business (money) will gladly pollute more and more to make a profit and this includes oil, gas and big farm operations that produce mega methane. In many rural areas, homeowners spew out wood smoke from furnaces and wood stoves used to heat their homes. We need to stop and we need to stop now. Wind power works well. Solar power works well. We suck up too much electricity in our homes and businesses and we waste fuel every day. Delivery trucks that sit idling and spewing out fumes, etc. We know what needs to be done, but we’re too damn lazy to do it.

Gary Kuehn

Even politicians know you don’t s*** where you eat. Makes you wonder who all (on both sides of the river) will benefit from this brainless proposal. Industry should NEVER be allowed to dump toxic waste into ANY waterway.

Tara Stone

I have to ask. Why would ANYONE risk the lives of their fellow human
beings, all river life (including the water itself)! for ANY reason?? How
can the University of Alabama SYSTEM justify even the possibility of
harming another SYSTEM; and one that was established so long
ago for our very survival?

Oppose the Shepherd Bend Mine permit. Surface coal mining has
negative effects on downstream water quality.

    Danny

    Danny- I agree. It happens every day in eastern Kentucky, in the state where I live. It is WAY past time to leave coal in the ground and move on to other forms of energy.

ANITA HARTMANN

IT IS UNCONSCIONABLE THAT YOU WOULD REFUSE TO PROTECT THE CRITICAL LAND ASSOCIATED WITH SAFE DRINKING WATER FOR THE CITIZENS OF THESE AREAS! HOW CAN YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT? HOW CAN YOU LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR?
DO THE RIGHT THING AND PROTECT THIS WATER! THE WORLD IS WATCHING!
ANITA HARTMANN
MOBILE: 303-356-0644

David

All I can say is the people of Alabama are getting just what they voted for, corporate rulers. Why are they surprised? Somebody needs to WTF up and realize the Repugnantlicans have soled their asses out,lock, stock and barrel. Keep voting red, keep getting black,lungs, water and forests that is.

Mary

T IS UNCONSCIONABLE THAT YOU WOULD REFUSE TO PROTECT THE CRITICAL LAND ASSOCIATED WITH SAFE DRINKING WATER FOR THE CITIZENS OF THESE AREAS! HOW CAN YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT? HOW CAN YOU LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR?
DO THE RIGHT THING AND PROTECT THIS WATER! THE WORLD IS WATCHING!
Mary Bloxham 925 943-1667

    patricia koelling

    who is going to benefit from the mineing of the coal. only those people who own the mine. they do not care if the drinking water is contaminated.

Ricky

The mining of Shepard’s Bend will be in accordance with all applicable laws of the State of Alabama, Federal Mining, Safety, and Health Administration (MSHA), as well as all other mining regulations. Land will be reclaimed to better than original condition and jobs will be created for several hundred people. And there will not be a gallon of diesel used and oil dumped in the water puttering up and down the river in a diesel using, oil polluting riverboat, drinking beer and having a big ole time protesting the mining of Shepard’s Bend.

    Lisa

    Ricky, you are full of it. There is no way to “put back” the land to its original condition, no way to bring back the wildlife that has been driven away. Go tell your environment-killing overlords to go to Hell, and you go with them. Tool.

      Ricky

      Lisa,
      Let’s talk about wildlife for a minute. This year so far 600,000 bats, hundreds of thousands of various types of birds, including our Bald and Golden Eagles, have been killed by wind turbines. Alabama Power is spending hundreds of millions of dollars installing scrubbers to clean up coal gasses. One nuclear accident could cause the whole of Alabama to become a vast wasteland for a million years. I only ask you to do one thing for me. Call your power supplier and ask them to come out and turn off your electrical power for 30 day, only 30 days. No power, no heat, no lights, no hot water, no tv, no radio. Then come back here and tell me if you prefer that life style or not. If not please rethink your stance and issue some realistic solutions instead of condemning good hard working people to hell. Although I thought it an excellent yet ignorant comeback. Pretty funny that one.

marc s. fried

You need to revolt folks – plain and simple. Take over the offices of the government – in this case local and state and take power. When the present holders of that/office is destructive to your life, health and lifestyle for the benefit of the few just remember the phrase in the Declaration of Independence; “that when any government is destructive of these ends it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.” Elections are not the only way to change a decision or a govt policy – on any level. You have the power – it’s time to use the “FORCE”~!!!

Marc S. Fried

Bill Eisen

A coal mine surrounded on 3 sides by an environmentally sensitive river used for drinking water makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Carolyn Snow

University of Alabama needs to oppose the Shepherd Bend Mine permit. To quote the reply from Mr. Tom Brinkman, “Surface coal mining has negative effects on downstream water quality. Hillside runoff and underground seepage will easily reach the river and the fresh water intake for Birmingham.” The health of residents drinking contaminated water will be compromised which can only result in expensive lawsuits later on

    Ricky

    Charles,
    Thank you for the information. I like you am a proud American. What I know is that coal helps generate about 38% of the United States electrical demand. So, I think a better solution is to find a way to make sure the coal that will be mined is mined in a fashion that will not effect the water at the Birmingham intake. So, let’s think solutions, not mining stoppages. There are solutions.