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Aiming WV’s Presidential Spotlight on Mountaintop Removal

April 4, 2008

Charleston, WV – West Virginia matters in the current Democratic presidential nomination contest, and that could bring a state environmental issue to the national stage. Opponents of mountaintop-removal coal mining are calling on the candidates to speak up on the issue before next month's primary.

Daniel Chiotos, environmental caucus chair with the West Virginia Young Democrats, says that at the group's convention this weekend, delegates will vote on a resolution calling for an end to the environmentally destructive mining practice.

"Mountaintop removal is a huge issue for people in the state, and candidates have to take responsible positions on mountaintop removal. We want to see an end to it and a transition to deep mining and a clean, green economy."

He says candidates should make a commitment to developing alternatives to coal and other fossil fuels, and adding that clean energy can have a lot of benefits for West Virginia's economy.

"The state has huge potential for wind farms. Wind offers all kind of jobs; energy efficiency offers all kinds of jobs in cities as pathways out of poverty."

Supporters of mountaintop removal say it's the cheapest way to get to coal needed in today's energy economy. Chiotos disagrees, saying the health and environmental damage caused by such mining drives up the real costs.

Rob Ferrett/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WV