Our lawsuit regarding Zeb Mountain has finally been settled! Together with the Sierra Club and the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN), we reached an agreement with National Coal LLC that will end National Coal’s involvement in the mountaintop removal business in Tennessee. As of June 2013, National Coal must phase out all current strip mining operations in Tennessee and no new surface mining permits can be pursued in our state by National Coal!
Congratulations to all of our members and partners and allies who have worked tirelessly throughout the past decade to protect the people, community, and wildlife that surrounds Zeb Mountain!
In 2002, Robert Clear Coal Corporation (RCCC) applied for a permit to open a 2,000+ acre mine on Zeb Mountain’s three peaks. Just a year after mining began, the Zeb permit was transferred to National Coal. Fearing that such a large mountaintop mining operation in this steep and complex mountain environment would threaten water quality and other community resources, SOCM members in the Elk Valley community of Campbell County decided to organize opposition to the permit.
In 2003, the violations began stacking up against operations at Zeb and these violations continued. On April 10, 2006, the federal Office of Surface Mining issued a “pattern of violations” notice to National Coal for 7 hydrologic balance regulation violations in the preceding 12 months. In August 2006, after National Coal mined through two headwater streams without a permit, TDEC issued a Stop Work Order that mandated restoration of streams.
Following the violations, SOCM and other groups worked to oppose the permit renewal at Zeb in 2008. Campbell/Anderson Chapter members jumped into action by submitting written comments and requesting a public hearing to share the variety of “ills” caused by the mining in the previous years. That same year, we took our battle to the courts, filing our first lawsuit against National Coal for discharging toxic selenium from the site without a permit. Since then, we’ve filed subsequent lawsuits regarding Zeb Mountain for permit violations and continued to work in the community around the mountain to educate and organize the residents.
For over a decade, resilient SOCM members have fought the destruction to Zeb Mountain and the streams and community that surrounds it … And it finally paid off!