Neighbors Near Kanawha State Forest Protesting New Mine

The state song of West Virginia represents what many feel is one of two icons of the mountain state: it

MGN Online

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The state song of West Virginia represents what many feel is one of two icons of the mountain state: it's hills.

Thursday evening, they gathered at the Capitol to protest the other: coal.

"It's not the industry they're concerned about, it's the location. I was looking at the map and I thought, 'I think that's where my house is,'" said Daile Boulis.

Boulis lives just steps from a new surface mine being developed near the Kanawha State Forest.

The Department of Environment Protection is allowing Keystone Coal to mine more than 400 acres.

The thought of blasting and coal runoff by Boulis' home doesn't appeal to her. She and others have been pleading with the state to revoke a drilling permit they say threatens the park and area homes.

"Coal used to be West Virginia's number one industry and now it's tourism," said Jessica Chasengnou, "but now tourism is being ruined by coal."

Supporters cite jobs and money as benefits, adding the land will be reclamated when finished.

Keystone is giving the state ten cents for every ton of coal they mine. It is estimated there are around seven million tons of coal at the site.

However, all of those gathered challenge those at the top to speak with neighbors and see exactly what impact this will have.

"Govenor Tomblin, come on out," said Boulis. "I'll either make you coffee or I'll fix you sweet tea and we'll have a little chat."

The Kanawha State Forest Coalition is gathering signatures in a petition. To sign, visit:

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