On April 20th 2105, The Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards learned all of their hard work and efforts had finally paid off. Ison Rock Ridge is safe from being mined, for now. Monday was the deadline for A & G to apply for its appeal in VA circuit court for its fourth appeal of the denial of the Ison Rock Ridge application. It did not file an appeal with circuit court clerk of Wise County, so functionally the permit application is no more.
A & G coalâ€™s permit application was denied after failing to pay its bonds and feeâ€™s and getting its required NPDES permit in a timely manner. The permit application was denied in February of 2013 and A & G coal has been pursuing appeals ever since. The most recent decision to from the deputy director of DMME was issued in early March of this year. The window for A & G to appeal once more has now passed. â€œWe have been fighting this permit for eight yearsâ€ said Jane Branham of SAMS â€œI am glad its over.â€
That sentiment was echoed by several other SAMS members who plan to celebrate their victory in the near future with a large Fish Fry near Appalachia. â€œThis just goes to show what a small group of people can do when they work togetherâ€ said Judy Needham of Andover Va. SAMS remains commited to its mission of stopping dangerous surface mining, and rebuilding sustainable communities
Technically speaking there is nothing stopping from A & G coal or other mining operations for reapplying for a new permit application on Ison Rock Ridge because Penn Virginia Landholding company owns that land, and can lease it out to whomever they choose. But anyone applying would have to satisfy all the environmental requirements of a SMCRA permit application. â€œWe will remain vigilant to make sure that no new mining operations will move in on Ison Rock Ridgeâ€ said SAMâ€™s President Ben Hooper. â€œIf they do, We will fight them just like we fought A & G, and we are a much more organized group now than when we were 8 years ago when we began this fightâ€