by Gainesville Loves Mountains
After more than two years of advocating locally and nationally for an end to mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining,Gainesville Loves Mountains (GLM) has proposed an ordinance to the Gainesville City Commission to permanently end Gainesville Regional Utility’s purchases of MTR coal.
The ordinance was drafted by local environmental attorney and GLM member Byron Flagg, and is being sponsored by Commissioner Thomas Hawkins. Upon submitting the proposed ordinance, GLM had this to say: “We believe in more than an ‘all of the above’ approach to energy. As our community diversifies our fuel supply and curbs wasteful consumption, an important end goal should be to eliminate the ‘worst of the worst’ from our energy mix.”
Mountaintop removal coal mining occurs throughout the Appalachian mountains of the United States and is a method of literally removing the tops of mountains in order to access sub-surface coal. The MTR process has been widely documented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others to wreak environmental havoc on any area where MTR occurs. In addition, Appalachian communities have cried out for help as their towns, homes and livelihoods struggle with the social and health impacts that occur when an MTR operation actually changes the landscape around them.
In recent months, GRU has been able to dramatically reduce our community’s consumption of MTR coal with no added expense to ratepayers and no disruption of services. Yet they have made no commitment to continue this transition away from MTR coal, whereas GLM would like to see it formalized and solidified. GLM’s proposed ordinance would require GRU to enact policies and guidelines to identify MTR coal and prohibit GRU from any future purchases of MTR coal.
Over the past two years, GLM brought Appalachian residents Larry Gibson and Kathy Sevlage to Gainesville to describe the impacts of MTR on their communities. The group has also sponsored numerous film screenings and other public events, and has advocated at the Congressional level for a ban on the practice. Hundreds of people from throughout the community have stepped forward to voice their support of GLM’s efforts. The group will continue to boost these outreach efforts in the coming weeks through an online petition available on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/
For more information on the proposed ordinance and Gainesville Loves Mountains, contact:
Jason Fults, 352-610-1090, gainesvillelovesmountains@
For more information about the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining and national efforts to end it, contact:
Katey Lauer, Coordinator
The Alliance for Appalachia