Cordia High School senior Tiffany Skiles has been organizing in her school and community against Leeco�s permit after being alarmed after learning the devastation the mining would bring.
�If this permit is approved then I�ll have a coal-processing plant directly across from my home, a coal train directly across from my home, a coal haul road directly in front of my home and now a strip mine and valley fill directly behind my home,� Tiffany told EPA officials in Washington. �All through high school I�ve been taking classes and learning to honor and respect the culture of the mountains. How am I suppose to stay here and make a home with all this around me?�
Tiffany participated in the recent Week in Washington and organized her classmates to produce an art project to show EPA officials the things they love and want to protect about their community.
�I don�t want to move away. We need to share and take part in our heritage here. We�ve got to make our home better.�
The community of Stacy Branch in Sassafras is being threatened with a proposed mining operation that would be, at 849 acres and six valley fills, one of the largest new mountaintop removal and valley fill operations in Kentucky.
Leeco coal company is trying to make good on its threat to mine the head of Stacy Branch and all along the right side of the holler down to Sassafras. State officials have already given Leeco permission to mine. The only agency that may still protect the community is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA is currently reviewing Leeco�s application to dump mining wastes into local streams and create large valley fills. The agency is charged with evaluating the potential water pollution discharge impacts from the proposed operations.
Conductivity levels of Stacy Branch already are above the safe limit of 500 micro-Siemens set by the EPA in its conductivity standards. The current conductivity of Stacy Branch is at or above 600 micro-Siemens.
Local residents also are very concerned about the potential for flooding and damage from blasting near their homes. With four valley fills in the narrow Stacy Branch holler, something as simple as a culvert getting stopped up in a rainstorm could cause flash flooding that would damage dozens of homes.
In December, the EPA asked Leeco to make some changes to its permit, to reduce anticipated water quality impacts and monitor stream quality. Leeco refused.
At a meeting between the company and agency officials, representatives of U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnelll attended on behalf of the coal company, to help make it clear to EPA officials that they should be protecting the coal company and not the people who live in the community. EPA officials are facing increased pressure to allow this destructive mining to take place.
EPA officials need to hear from you to strengthen their resolve to protect the community by enforcing the Clean Water Act. Please send a message to in support of local residents� request asking EPA officials to come visit Stacy's Branch and neighboring Lotts Creek before they make a decision on Leeco permit #897-0480.