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Community group leads picket on Greenbrier
VA coalfields group sheds light on true cost of Billionaire Coal Baron’s wealth
White Sulphur Springs, WV – Citizens from across the region have joined the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS) for a picket being held outside of the Greenbrier Classic PGA Tournament. Billionaire Coal Baron, Jim Justice owns the Greenbrier and operates mountaintop removal mines across Appalachia. The picket is a next step in the Justice to Justice campaign launched by SAMS in Wise County, VA where communities are concerned about water pollution, blasting, air quality and the potential health impacts of Justice’s coal mines.
In Wise County, Virginia, several of Justice’s subsidiaries’ surface mine operations have been threatened with forfeiture of their bonds, due to inadequate reclamation on those operations. For years SAMS has worked to stop the destruction of Ison Rock Ridge, a mountain that sits above the homes of at least 2000 people in the town of Appalachia Virginia. They are asking Jim Justice to abandon the proposed Ison Rock Ridge mountaintop removal mine, and to focus on proper reclamation of existing permits in Virginia.
Citizens of Southwest Virginia are not the only ones with concerns about Jim Justice operations. Justice has been the target of multiple lawsuits and legal actions from community groups, workers and government agencies. Justice is worth an estimated $1.6 billion dollars, however he owes unpaid debts to workers in multiple states and has over $3 million in unpaid fines for safety violations through MSHA. Last week two groups filed a lawsuit against a Justice company in Tennessee for unlawful mining pollution and filed a notice that they intend to file additional lawsuits against other Justice companies in Tennessee for failing to submit water pollution reports for fourteen mines in the state.
“Jim Justice is acting like a deadbeat billionaire, not paying his contractors, not paying regulatory fines, and leaving us with the long term costs of sloppy reclamation on blasted mountains,” said Jane Branham, Vice President of SAMS. “We’re calling on him to remember the communities who’ve given him so much wealth, and to commit to cleaning up his act”.
Over the past several month SAMS members have sent multiple letters to Jim Justice asking for a meeting, including visiting his offices several times and hand delivering over three hundred petitions. A meeting has still not been granted and now SAMS is bringing demands to the Greenbrier to draw attention to Justice’s legacy of leaving devastated communities to pay the price of his irresponsible and destructive business practices. Supporters will hold a candlelight vigil on Thursday at 8:00p.m at White Sulphur Springs to shine a light on Justice’s dirty practices and to stand in solidarity with communities impacted by Justice’s mountaintop removal operations. Learn more about the Justice to Justice campaign at http://www.justicetojustice.com/.