The Black Warrior River — listed as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2013 and 2011 — is the subject of this update from guest author Charles Scribner, Executive Director of the Black Warrior Riverkeeper.
Friday, June 19, Black Warrior Riverkeeper received inquiries from several reporters about a press release that Drummond Company had just sent to them related to their interest in the Shepherd Bend Mine. Drummond’s press release stated that they will not renew their permit to mine coal at Shepherd Bend. Needless to say, that was a very important announcement for the river, the people who enjoy it, and the 200,000 people in the Greater Birmingham area who receive their drinking water from the Birmingham Water Works Board’s intake across from Shepherd Bend.
This appears to be fantastic news for water consumers, however, lacking certain key details, including whether this decision is permanent, it would be premature to declare victory. Even if Drummond is permanently shelving its plan to mine at Shepherd Bend, we must keep the pressure on The University of Alabama to promise that they will never sell or lease their land or mineral rights to any mining company at Shepherd Bend. Our opposition to mining at Shepherd Bend was never specifically focused on Drummond, and if another company ever showed interest in Shepherd Bend, we would mount the same opposition.
The University of Alabama is still the major owner of land and mineral rights at the proposed Shepherd Bend Mine site across from a major drinking water supply area on the Black Warrior River’s Mulberry Fork. We have been partnering with American Rivers to battle this potential coal mine for a few years now. The university has a great opportunity to do the right thing NOW, and declare the Shepherd Bend site permanently closed to coal mining prospects.
We will continue to monitor the situation. We deeply appreciate American Rivers’ help with this issue, and ask that our tens of thousands of partners on this issue continue to stand with us in opposition to harmful coal mining at Shepherd Bend. To stay updated, please visit this page: www.blackwarriorriver.org/shepherdbendmin
The Black Warrior Riverkeeper is a citizen-based nonprofit organization dedicated to improving water quality, habitat, recreation, and public health throughout the Black Warrior River watershed.