Grass Roots Environmental Effort Newsletter

May 2000

Spring Gathering Planned at Sustainable Fair June 17 & 18th

The E-Council invites you to join us at Watters Smith Park near Lost Creek, Harrison Co. for our Annual Spring Gathering at the Sustainable Fair 2000!

This is a one-day professional education conference on such topics as: Sustainable energy, applied enviro education, funding resources, agriculture production methods, housing technologies, shelters, water resources, and food & fiber.

We are excited to be co-sponsoring this initiative, and welcome the opportunity to share information and ideas with other non-profit organizations, green businesses and gov. agency representatives. Other sponsors include: WVU Extension Sustainable Agricultural Center, WV Dept. of Tourism, La Paix Herb Farm, and Natural Lifeways Co.

Come and share your ideas! Gain new information on how you as an individual, organization or business can grow and prosper. Meet some on the best, brightest, interesting, fun folks around who share the same value system and belief in the future of West Virginia!

Children's activities are also planned throughout the day - music provided by John Lozier and Crazy Jane in the evening!

On Sunday, June 18th, the WVEC Board Meeting will be held in the Pavilion from 11 am ~ 2 pm. All current members as well as those interested in the WV Environmental Council are welcome to attend. See the attached brochure and registration form for full details and participants.

For additional info - or if you would like a space for your business or organization (at no extra expense - indoor and outdoor space avail) contact Denise Poole at: (304) 346-5905 (WVEC office) or dpoole@wvwise.org.

Accommodations: No camping or housing is available at Watters Smith Park, Lost Creek, WV.

Area Hotels: Jane Lew - Wilderness Plantation Inn - exit 79 - 884-7806

Weston - - - Super 8 Motel, 12 Market Place - 269-1086

Weston Motor Inn, US Route 19S - 269-1975

Bridgeport - Sleep Inn, 115 Tolley Dr. - 842-1919

Econo Lodge, Meadowbrook Rd. - 842-7381

Knights Inn, I-79 & Rt.50 - 842-7115

Clarksburg --Ramada Limited, I 79 & Rt. 50 - 623-2600

Days Inn, 112 Tolley Drive - 842-7371

Camping: Wilderness Waterpark & Campground, Wolfsummit - 622-7528 or Call: 1-800-CALL-WVA INFO

Bed and Breakfasts:

Natural Seasons B&B, uptown Weston 269-7902

Ingeberg Acres B&B, Jackson's Mill 269-2834

Stone Farm B&B, near Walkersville in rural southern Lewis county 452-8477

Gillum House B&B in Shinnston 592-0177

Acacia House B&B in Fairmont 367-1000

Tygart Valley Star in Phillipi, 457-1890

Deer Park Inn near Buckhannon, 472-8400

High Street B&B in West Union, 873-2049

All these B&B's are owned and operated by West Virginia citizens supporting sustainable community development.

Additional information on WV B&B's is available toll-free at 1-800-call-wva, through our colleagues in the WV Division of Tourism. Betty Carver in the Community Relations office at WVDT has provided financial and spiritual support to our efforts. She is also working with Peter Maille and John Williams from MABB to develop an ecological tourism program in WV.

Coal River 6th Most Endangered River in America

Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Burying West Virginia River

Charleston, W.Va. - West Virginia's Coal River is listed as the sixth Most Endangered River in America, according to American Rivers, a national river conservation organization.

Organizations who nominated the Coal River for this designation are: West Virginia Rivers Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal River Mountain Watch, Trapp Hill Watershed Association, Horse Creek Community Association, and Coal River Watershed Preservation Association.

"This is a bittersweet announcement to make," said Nathan Fetty, program associate for the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, and writer of the nomination. "In the Coal River watershed, at least 220 miles of streams have been buried under millions of tons of waste from valley fills. Today, segments of the Coal River, which used to run twelve feet deep, are now at depths which even canoes cannot navigate." Sediment from mountaintop removal mining and the associated deforestation is filling in the river, altering it and the habitat and water quality it provides.

"The Coal River has lost a multitude of headwater streams to valley fills associated with large scale strip mining, and it is targeted to lose many more," said Cindy Rank, mining chair for the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. "In March, there were an additional 30 or more fills in the Coal River basin included in mine plans for a dozen new permits that are already in the pipeline awaiting approval."

"Simply, if coal was mined according to the law, much senseless destruction of West Virginia's exceptional rivers and streams would end," said Jeremy P. Muller, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.

Efforts are either on-going, or have been attempted, to alter the law so that mountaintop removal coal mining can continue to be permitted as before. Currently, the Clinton/Gore administration has instructed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to re-define what constitutes fill material. This would legalize the disposal of mining waste in our rivers and streams, and would gut the Clean Water Act, setting water quality degradation precedents for the entire nation.

"We are very concerned about the Clinton/Gore administration's efforts to change the definition of fill material, due to its impact on West Virginia's rivers and streams, and the country as a whole," said Muller.

As part of the settlement of a federal lawsuit, state and federal regulatory agencies must develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for mountaintop removal and valley fills. A draft EIS will go out for public comment this summer.

"West Virginians need to call on the appropriate regulatory agencies, like DEP, EPA, and the Army Corps, to develop an EIS that protects people and our rivers and mountains from this destruction," said Fetty. "The fate of the Coal River and hundreds of rivers and streams affected by valley fills hangs in the balance of a couple of crucial decisions to be made in the upcoming months."

The Coal River's ranking as the sixth most endangered river in America this year is the sixth consecutive year that West Virginia has had a river listed on the American Rivers report. "This designation brings even more national attention to the damage valley fills are doing to our rivers and streams," said Fetty. "But it's disheartening to have the Coal named an endangered river two years in a row."

The Coal River was listed as the country's ninth most endangered river in 1999. The Cheat River was listed in 1995 and 1996 for acid mine drainage, and the Potomac River was listed in 1997 and 1998 due to pollution from factory poultry farms.

In a separate report released earlier this year by U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG), West Virginia's Ohio and Kanawha rivers were recently ranked 4th and 15th respectively in America for the amount of toxic materials released into them.

Earth Day 2000

by Donald S. Garvin, Jr., WVEC President

Saturday, April 22, was Earth Day 2000, the 30th anniversary of what has become an annual celebration of the natural bounty of our planet and the environment. Citizens and groups across West Virginia are still gathering to celebrate this event, and will continue to do so for the next several weeks.

For the West Virginia Environmental Council, every day is Earth Day. On this particular anniversary of the first Earth Day thirty years ago, we felt it was important to reflect on the state of the environment in West Virginia in the year 2000, and to express our vision of an improved environment for the twenty-first century.

West Virginia, the Mountain State, is blessed with an uncommon abundance and diversity of natural resources. No where else can you find the combination of green, rugged land, wild rivers, fresh air, lofty rock formations, and wilderness - West Virginia is a place apart.

Yet, because of this very abundance of nature's bounty, West Virginia has also been cursed with an equal abundance of short-sighted and destructive exploitation of our mountains, minerals, streams, and timber that has resulted in severe threats to the health of the people and the environment in this state.

Generations of extractive uses have resulted in acid mine drainage, siltation, and dams on the state's rivers and streams. Industry has produced increasing amounts of toxic discharges and acid rain. Development has contributed sewage discharges. Polluted runoff from factory farms has degraded our drinking water to unsafe levels. Politics and unemployment have continued to drive inconsistent regulatory and administrative remedies.

According to "Poisoning Our Water: How the Government Permits Pollution" a U.S. PIRG report released in February 2000, in 1997 (the year for which data is most recently available), more than seven million pounds of toxic pollution were released into West Virginia's waters which ranked the state as the 12th highest in the nation.

West Virginia ranks thirty-fifth in state population, but in 1997 the state was ranked sixth in the nation for sulfur dioxide emissions and seventh for nitrogen oxides. According to former EPA regional administrator Michael McCabe, "West Virginia power plants spew more nitrogen oxide into the air than all the power plants in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and the District of Columbia."

During the summer of 1998 state citizens breathed unhealthy air one of every three days.

Between 1987 and 1994 timber harvested every year doubled to more than one billion board feet and harvest levels have increased greatly since that time. Between 1992 and 1999 timber companies targeted more than two million acres for logging, which is about 13 percent of the land in West Virginia. Meanwhile, catastrophic flooding of areas downstream of this activity increases every year.

In recent times, valley fills from mountaintop removal mining have obliterated more than 500 miles of West Virginia headwater streams, resulting in the loss of aquatic habitat, terrestrial wildlife habitat, deciduous hardwood forest, herbaceous plants - with devastating impacts to entire watersheds and ecosystems.

According to U.S. EPA data, during a recent test period, 27% of West Virginia's major municipal and industrial facilities were in significant noncompliance with their Clean Water Act permits.

And according to data published in industry's own publications, West Virginia annually spends less per resident on environmental protection (air quality, drinking water, hazardous waste, pesticides control, solid waste, and water quality) than any other state in the nation.

The West Virginia Environmental Council sees a great need - and much room - for improving the record for environmental protection in the twenty first century. We will continue to work for a cleaner, safer, more sustainable environment for the citizens of the Mountain State, and for all the future generations of West Virginians.

The mission of the West Virginia Environmental Council is to facilitate communication and cooperation among citizens in promoting environmental protection in West Virginia, to assist in organizing grass roots groups, to facilitate interaction among established environmental organizations, and to correspond with all appropriate local, state, and federal agencies involved in the management of West Virginia's environment.

Note: this was Don's address at the E-Council Earth Day press conference in Charleston.

WVU Earth Week and Cash Cows

By Rick Eades

On April 17, Julia Bonds, Larry Gibson and I joined Denise Giardina on a panel at WVU discussing Mountaintop Removal mining. Denise again delivered a showstopper. With an uncanny metaphor, she told the story of coal in West Virginia, with quite a twist for an ending. Paraphrased, Giardina described coal historically as a bull in a china shop that destroyed everything in its path while pampering onlookers sighed, "nice bull." She said the industry has now worked to change its public image, trying to depict itself as this giant, gentle milk cow that provides so much for the state. Denise then dreamed the next chapter out loud. She said West Virginia should grab on to its udder and milk that cow for everything it has, before it dies. And, when the milk runs dry..... we should have a barbecue! The quality of WVU students in attendance reminded us how important it is to further involve college-age folks in our initiatives. Students pursuing degrees in public relations, parks and recreation, biology, and mining engineering offered refreshing depth and insight, not to mention some strong anti-corporate values. Seems like people from every demographic are nauseated by corporate greed - oh, except for those with reserved front row seats at the trough.

Clean Energy?

Citizens Coal Council and Earthjustice, Legal Defense Fund and other national enviro groups have printed up postcards featuring a picture of a mountaintop removal site with the words "Clean Energy?" The postcard, addressed to the Whitehouse, says:

"Dear President Clinton and Vice President Gore; This year's Earth Day theme is Clean Energy," but you cannot truly support clean energy while allowing mining companies to blow the tops off Appalachian mountains and bury thousands of miles of streams under millions of tons of waste to extract coal, a dirty energy source.

"Your Administration has signaled that you may let this continue. But mountaintop removal strip mining conflicts with your positions on the environment. Please do not do anything that would weaken Clean Water Act rules in order to permit this destruction of mountains and streams. For Earth Day and every day, do the right thing for Clean Energy and Clean Water."

There's space to sign your name and address on the postcard. Let's flood the Whitehouse with these cards! Some of you will receive the postcard in this issue of the Green. If you didn't get a postcard, but would like one, e-mail vivian@wvadventures.net or call Vivian at 522-0246. If you have lots of friends who will send in postcards, you can order 100 for $11.00.

Environment Action Center

Sixteen of the nation's largest environmental advocacy organizations have collaborated on a website that contains information on many of the current national and international environmental campaigns, and which allows the visitor to send e-postcards on each of those campaigns to legislators. Issues include global warming, Everglades restoration, wild forest protection, land and water conservation fund funding, and clean energy.

Check it out! www.SaveOurEnvironment.org

Actions for Satisfaction

by Viv Stockman

"What do we want? JUSTICE! -- When do we want it? NOW!"

This was one of several chants heard outside the federal Office of Surface Mining in Charleston on April 19th. About 25 Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition members and supporters circled in front of the building, calling out for justice and demanding that former OSM Director Kathy Karpan be fired.

In mid-March Karpan announced she was pursuing an offer to head the National Mining Association, the nation's largest coal industry lobbying group. At that time, she recused herself from further mining-related work at OSM. Angry citizens demanded that her boss, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, fire Karpan. Instead, he effectively promoted her to another position within the Department of Interior.

The protesters presented a list of demands to OSM, including the demand that Karpan's actions, especially those that instituted policy changes, be investigated. If an investigation reveals that Karpan's actions were motivated by the possibility of future employment in the coal industry, then those policy changes must be ditched.

If you missed this protest, don't worry, you will have more opportunities to join in future direct, non-violent actions. At the second Interstate Summit for the Mountains, held March 31-April 2, activists from WV, VA, OH and KY decided that we need many more of these kinds of actions-from street theater to protests. Many summit-goers worried that publicity about the settlement in the WV Highlands Conservancy mountaintop removal (MTR) lawsuit will lull people into thinking our MTR troubles our over. Direct actions will help build awareness that our mountains, forests and streams are not yet safe from the insatiable, ecocidal greed of coal companies.

Some may not believe that protests are an effective way to affect change, preferring to work directly within "the system." But, after participating in the inspiring Seattle action last year and in DC in April, I am more convinced than ever in the power of people working together-both within and outside the system. Direct actions really up the pressure on the bad guys, while giving us a chance to get creative, have fun, think outside the box, to plain old agitate. As Jim Hightower says, our country was founded by agitators, and the agitator is the central post in the washing machine that gets the dirt out.

If you want to know about our next direct action, make sure you are on OVEC's MTR action alert list. Send your name and e-dress to vivian@wvadventures.net. Or leave me a message at 304-522-0246.

Another Path to Activism

by Hugh & Gabriel Rogers

People get involved in road resistance because the road would affect them directly. That's the usual way. People stand up to the excesses of mountaintop removal mining when a mine would put the mountain in their hollow. People come forward to defend a river because they can no longer float there, or because their kids develop rashes from what's going into the river. Self-interest is a strong spur to action. There's a term in law for a person who steps forward to assert the public good: "private attorney general." Our system depends on such private AG's.

In my case (this is Hugh speaking), it began when I was asked. My neighbors knew more about Corridor H than I did; they wanted me to catch up and speak up. Most activists are self-starters. Some want to use their special skills on interesting, difficult work; for others, it is enough that they are citizens of this state, this country, this earth. At the Conservancy's board meetings, I look around at the twenty or thirty people in the room and I admire them all. Their motives, I know, are broader than self-interest. But I notice they're graying. I'm graying. Some of these stiff white hairs have come from worries about posterity, about "passing it on."

So I'm pleased that the Student Environmental Network has been revived here in Elkins. SEN had been active in several West Virginia high schools in the mid-90's. The students worked on local issues and environmental education, and they organized a few statewide gatherings for planning, encouragement, and fun. They were a familiar presence at E-Day! But SEN lapsed when its leaders graduated. Last December, Trenton Harper, a former SEN member who graduated from Elkins High in 1997, returned from adventures and training in other big woods with a different approach. He and his friends KiTeya Belford-Smith and Matt Hollen have been mentoring a dozen young people, and they were back at E-Day! this year. Here's one student's experience with a different path to activism.

In December, when we decided to revitalize SEN (this is Gabriel speaking), we made a tentative plan to focus equally on activist work and nature awareness, which included tracking and primitive skills. I wasn't convinced that the latter deserved equal status. I saw it as a hobby, albeit a valuable one, that should not take up the time of an environmental organization.

Sitting and tracking, two effective paths to awareness, changed my mind. My "sit spot" is a place where I spend fifteen or twenty minutes a day as nature ebbs and flows around me. Tracking involves much more than simply following an animal, rather it is learning as much as possible about that animal through the signs it leaves behind. With experience and trust, these two practices can heighten awareness.

Awareness was essential to human life; only the primitive who had intimate knowledge of natural systems survived. We have evolved from that primitive, whose knowledge and world-view are integral to our grasp on life. The possession of such skills may not now be essential to our survival in the same way, but it is still a key to our basic consciousness, and a way to develop environmental ethics on a fundamental level.

I used to do environmental work and support green causes because I loved the mountains and felt some obligation from acquaintances. Now I have reasons that are truer to myself. I am excited about environmentalism because I have developed a relationship with the land and a sentiment for its protection. Through tracking and sitting, stronger bonds tie me to the green movement.

Dredging Threatens Kanawha

by Rick Eades

A public meeting to address a dredging permit for coal recovery was held in Chesapeake in April. Sediment from above the Marmet Locks on the Kanawha River will be the source of new coal reserves, graciously deposited their by barge, train, and up-basin mine workings. DEP has already issued its permit for water quality, and the Army Corp. of Engineers (COE) had already issued its dredging permit. So it's a done deal, unless actions are pursued in the courts. Up to 2,000,000 cubic yards of material can be exhumed over a 1.25 mile stretch of the Kanawha River. Required public notice only reached 2 Chesapeake addresses, the legal bare minimum. Not one comment or letter opposing the plan was received. That's quite a streamlined permitting process.

Maybe the permitting process goes a lot faster when the oversight agency also doesn't require a single sediment sample from the area to be dredged. The COE was not aware of, nor did it collect data from, nor did it require data from, one single core sample of the sediment to be dredged. If Y-O-U were proposing to dig up 2,000,000 cubic yards of silt and sludge (over 1,000,000 giant refrigerators full), would you be allowed to: a. Collect zero sediment/core samples from the entire area to be exhumed? b. Offer zero analyses of the silt/sludge for any suspected contaminant? c. Ignore the fact you are downstream of DuPont and the old Alloy Chemical Plant, which have likely contributed a boatload of nasties to the silt over time? d. Disregard the concerns of Charleston, the recreational boaters on the Kanawha, and all Lower Kanawha drinking water intakes - each of whom can anxiously await the drippings of this mystery muck? e. Operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, beside residential areas? f. Receive the blessing of the Army COE and DEP, with a documented approval that says it's in the "best interest of the public?" g. All of the above? Oops, I forgot Y-O-U aren't a coal extracting special interest. Probably no reason to worry though. We have rigorous government oversight in place to protect people and the environment, should any problems arise.


Mine Wastes 20 Years, Monitoring Wells 1

by Rick Eades

At an April 12 Surface Mine Appeal Board Hearing, the Coal River Mountain Watch had to rely on my very limited review of the permit modification (an incidental boundary revision) for the Brushy Fork slurry dam/impoundment, at the headwaters of the Coal River. That's the impoundment that was originally going to have a vertical profile higher than the New River Gorge is deep. DEP approved only a portion of the modification (to only 600 feet in height versus the proposed 920 feet). Still, the site is available for up to 20 years of mine waste disposal. So, Coal River folks appealed the permit modification anyway. Turns out the dam, constructed of coal refuse and slurry fines, sits in places only 200 feet above portions of an old room-and-pillared deep mine. Fractures could provide a pathway for slurry water to escape in the deep mine, which could lead to a blowout into the Coal River. The permit modification did not require any groundwater monitoring, and we found out during the hearing that Marfork Coal Company only had 1 monitoring well in its existing permit. That's right - one well, nowhere near the area where coal refuse would be piled high over the old mine. The Board heard us. Although they refused our appeal to deny the permit, WVU hydrogeology professor Henry Rauch did add that a new groundwater monitoring plan and new wells would be required. The Board allowed the permit issuance only on the condition that groundwater monitoring was expanded. In this instance, the public hearing process and the Board Appeal resulted in meaningful changes to the permit. Coal River citizens earned some respect and tangible responsiveness in both settings.

Environmental Justice?

by Rick Eades

A new definition of Environmental Justice (EJ) is needed in West Virginia. The old one relies on toxic polluters (i.e industrial facilities, landfills, incinerators) moving into economically and politically disempowered communities. However, during a DEP-TV program taping in April with the WVEC, a newly expanded view of destruction selectively visited on broad reaches of rural communities was offered. Examples best relate this view: Would you see hundreds of tons of MTR explosive blasting in South Hills, Charleston? Would OSM, DEP and the coal industry undermine and cause immediate subsidence under Tamarack or the FBI Fingerprinting Center? Would oil and gas companies be allowed to leave thousands of miles of old leaking, corroded pipelines above ground at the Greenbrier Resort? Would timber sediment control be essentially unregulated in trendy sections of Teays Valley? Would an explosion of poultry coops or lagoons drop from the sky onto South Park, Morgantown? No. Our environmental injustice is brutally evident in less empowered rural communities, while reaching more regional scales of environmental dimunition or degradation to groundwater, surface water, and quality of life. The program will also indicate that lower income folks are probably at the highest risk for eating dioxin-contaminated fish from the Kanawha River. This classic form of EJ is tied to the denial and complicity of industrial and governmental officials, that Monsanto's numerous disposal sites do not warrant Superfund designation and cleanup. In one regard, this situation is no different than those of MTR blasting or poultry pollution. The denial and complicity of so-called leaders, and those profiting from the destruction, enable them all.

OSM - King Coal's Farm Team

By Rick Eades

OVEC organized an April 19 protest at the federal Office of Surface Mining, and asked that Kathy Karpan be fired, instead of rewarded with a promotion. Of course, Karpan steered OSM to many pro-coal positions in the past months, simultaneously sailing into the lead for the position of President of the National Mine Association. She may soon be the highest paid lobbyist/mouthpiece in the coal industry. Karpan's recent record at OSM speaks for itself, including such gifts as: 1. Joining the appeal to oppose the Haden ruling that valley fills at MTR sites have been illegal. 2. Seeking "mine waste" redefinition, to change the Clean Water Act and allow stream burials. 3. Issuing a policy statement to enable mining-induced subsidence under cemeteries and homes (a nice kiss to the Pie Community in Mingo County). 4. Opposing EPA efforts to regulate power plant dumping of toxic materials in old mines. 5. Ignoring damages to coalfield residents from blasting, by complicitly ignoring requirements in law to prevent damages. How could any other candidate compete with that resume? Richard Lawson, outgoing NMA President, must be humiliated. Though Lawson out-earned Karpan nearly 5 to 1 last year, she certainly deserved Coal's Most Valuable Player award. After the protest, John Taylor and I visited OSM staff deep in their bunkers. I offered some ideas to improve OSM's damaged reputation. Suggestions included revisiting the subsidence policy, new and unannounced inspections, and an open-file day where OSM staff would quickly lead citizens to file entries of inspection and enforcement oversight actions. Roger Calhoun later responded, saying "(we) have given (him) some things to contemplate." Yawn.

Celebrate the Forest!!

Come to the Kanawha State Forest on Wednesday, May 17 at 5:30 to celebrate this year's legislative victory that prevents logging in the Forest!!

The event will be a cook-out and gathering for folks who want to enjoy the Forest and get together to celebrate the fact that chainsaws and logging trucks are prohibited in this wonderful recreational area so close to our state's capital.

For more information, call the Citizen Action Group office at 346-5891. Pass the word!!

WV-CAG Endorsements: Primary Election, May 9, 2000

Statewide Races

Supreme Court: D Bob Bastress

State Senate

1stDistrict: D Tal Hutchins

2ndDistrict: D Jeffrey Kessler

6thDistrict: D John Pat Fanning

14thDistrict: D Jon Blair Hunter

15thDistrict: D Dave Rao

16th District: D Herb Snyder

17th District: D Larry Rowe

State Delegates

5th District: D Dave Pethtel

11thDistrict: D Oscar Hines

12thDistrict: D Michael Dunlap

13thDistrict: D Dale Martin, Brady Paxton

15thDistrict: D Arley Johnson

16thDistrict: D Susan Hubbard

18thDistrict: D - Don Perdue

20thDistrict: D Tracy Dempsey

22ndDistrict: D Cathy Patton, Lacy Wright

23rdDistrict: D Richard Browning, Richard Staton

24thDistrict: D Phil Alson Hancock

25thDistrict: D Mark Wills, Richard Flanigan

26thDistrict (U): D Mary Pearl Compton

27th District: D Virginia Mahan, Warren R.McGrawII, Sally Susman

28thDistrict: R James "Jim" Gerl

29thDistrict: D John Pino, D Tom Louisos

30th District: D Cubert Smith, Barbara Hatfield, Bonnie Brown, Jon Amores, Page Hamrick, R Priscilla Haden

31stDistrict: D Perry Bryant

34thDistrict: D Brent Boggs

36thDistrict: D Randy White

37thDistrict: D Phillip Hudok

40thDistrict: D Mary M. Poling

41stDistrict: D Ron Fragale, D Larry Linch

42ndDistrict: D Diane C. Parker

43rdDistrict: D Mike Caputo, Paul Prunty

44thDistrict: D Eugene Claypole, Barbara Fleischauer, Nancy Houston, Charlene Marshall

51stDistrict: D Claiborne B. Lashley

54thDistrict: D Laura Rose

55thDistrict: D John Doyle

56thDistrict: D Dale Manuel

Sierra Club Primary Endorsements:

State Offices:

Governor - Jim Lees (D)

Attorney General - Darrell McGraw (D)

State Senate

District 8 Kanawha County: Larry Rowe (D)

District 14 Monongalia, Preston, Barbour, Taylor, Tucker, Grant & Mineral County: Jon Blair Hunter (D)

House of Delegates

4th Marshall & Ohio County, Jerry Tighe (D)

16th Cabell & Wayne, Susan Hubbard (D)

26th Monroe & Summers: Mary Pearl Compton (D)

27th Raleigh & Summers: Virginia Mahan (D), Warren McGraw (D)

28th Greenbrier: Dale McCutcheon (D)

30th Kanawha: Barbara Hatfield (D), Bonnie Brown (D)

31st Kanawha: Perry Bryant (D)

40th Barbour: Mary Poling (D)

41st Harrison: Ron Fragale (D), Larry Linch (D)

44th Monongalia: Barbara Fleischauer (D), Cindy Frich (R)

56th Jefferson: Dale Manuel (D)

Jefferson County Commission - Doris Milstead

The Sierra Club Political Committee has surveyed hundreds of candidates, checked voting records, conducted interviews, and contacted many of our members to assure that endorsed candidates are truly committed to environmental protection. Endorsements require a two-thirds vote of the Political Committee AND a two-thirds vote of the Chapter ExCom. These are high hurdles to meet and there are many more candidates that may be deserving of our support, but we believe that those we have endorsed candidates will make a difference for West Virginia.

One of the more important races is for the Governor's Office. Incumbent Governor Cecil Underwood declined to respond to our survey, but did supply a copy of a recent speech in which he claimed to have helped "put pressure" on the coal industry to meet tougher environmental standards for mountaintop mining. In fact, it is well known that Underwood has consistently defended the mining industry, both in court and in the press, while attacking environmentalists. He has also attacked EPA for implementing clean air rules, made virtually no progress on Blackwater Canyon, and consistently put pro-industry advocates in charge of environmental regulatory agencies.

Among the leading Democratic contenders, Congressman Bob Wise has had some environmental successes in years past, but has been in a steady decline in his pro-environment voting record in Congress. He co-sponsored the House version of the Byrd amendment to overturn the 1999 Haden court ruling on mountaintop mining, and supports continued exemptions fro the Freedom of Information Act for the WV Development Office.

Democratic underdog Jim Lees has never held elected office, but has a long history of involvement in many issues. He helped fight the Apple Grove Pulp Mill, opposes Valley Fills i perennial streams, is an active supporter of saving Blackwater Canyon, and believes that all state agencies, including the Development Office need to be accountable to the people. But just as importantly, Lees has a well-developed Strategic Plan for economic development in WV. His vision of economic development is one that will empower citizens, protect the environment, reduce our dependence on out-of-state corporation, and lead to a sustainable economy built on local businesses that are compatible with the environmental values we love in WV. He is an impressive candidate with a new vision for state government for West Virginia.

Please help Lees campaign. Talk to your friend, neighbors and co-workers about our support. Volunteer with his campaign. Show your support at campaign appearances. Contributions are always welcome. Most of all, remember to vote on May 9.

Citizens To Get Wet

By Rick Eades

The Plateau Action Network had a planning meeting in April to consider options for summer monitoring on Laurel Creek in Fayette County. In addition to water quality monitoring, interests being considered include mapping old coal seams and monitoring above and below their stream outcrops and identifying bank erosion areas for possible riparian restoration efforts. Citizens are seriously looking at constructing a wetland at the discharge point from an old deep mine, or restoring a special stretch of the stream and installing educational kiosks. Randy Boyd has been a strong leader in past PAN efforts, and was joined by Doug and Sally Hurst, and last year's PAN intern Clayton Scott. Further south, Shelli Turner, executive director of the Pipestem Folklife Center has a stream cleanup planned for Mercer County's Brush Fork on May 13. Contact her at (304) 466-0626 for details. A cookout and music will follow at the Folklife Center.

Dear Friends of Creation

Welcome to "Creation's Corner", a new feature of WV E-Council's G.R.E.E.N. newsletter. The purpose of "Creation's Corner" is to provide a forum for the exploration of the different spiritual sides of the environmental movement, as it is experienced through contact with God's Creation itself.

We will be offering an opportunity for reader participation with each issue of G.R.E.E.N., and will seek essays and contributions from different faith, cultural and philosophical backgrounds. We will welcome poems, prayers, personal observations, inspiring quotations, and suggestions for enhancing our perceptions of the spiritual in Creation.

All submissions will be subject to editorial review by necessity, but the intent here is to make "Creation's Corner" responsive to our readership, and a way for people of whatever faith, tradition, or philosophy to connect with one another. In this way we can nourish each other in our struggles and draw inspiration and comfort from one another's traditions and experiences. Peace be with you. Please contact Mary Ellen O'Farrell at 304-346-3303, or godfrey@citynet.net.