Open Letter To Jim Justice
This letter , written by Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS), was sent to Jim Justice's personal residence and the offices of Southern Coal in Roanoke, VA. Two weeks later, after no response, SAMS members hand-delivered the letter to the Southern Coal headquarters. Community members have still received no response to the request for a meeting.
Ten years ago this August, a boulder was dislodged from a mine complex operated on Looney Ridge by A & G Coal. That boulder crashed through the home of a family, killing a three year old boy in his sleep. That tragedy was a wake up call for many living in the coalfields of Central Appalachia. On that day, we woke to the fact that mountaintop removal surface mining is threatening the present and future livability of our communities. While you did not own the mine at the time of the accident, operators like your own A&G Coal Corporation continue to use this technique to blast apart our mountains, poison our water, and to replace coal miners with explosives.
Today: We demand that you stop this senseless practice, that you use your wealth and your political platform to help plot a new course for Appalachia, and commit to compensating those who have suffered the impacts of these mining practices by paying your debts both to workers and for mining related violations. We dream of a life not bound to poisoned water, lifeless mountains, and ravaged communities, and we’d like your help . Over the years, your corporations’ activities have made you incredibly wealthy while communities like ours are stuck with the costs you haven't had to pay for. Our communities are left with costs like poisoned water, dropped wells, devastated forests, unpaid contracts, and falling property values that gut our neighborhoods. After centuries of resource extraction, poverty, and illness, the debt to Appalachia must be paid in full.
We are requesting a meeting with you to discuss a way forward for communities impacted by your operations. The first step towards a brighter Appalachia starts here.
We are hopeful that you will work with the citizens of this region and be a part of making this new future a reality. Below is a list of steps that we see as a necessary way forward. We would like to discuss these steps with you:
Sam Broach - President of SAMS
Jane Branham - Vice President of SAMS