Pennsylvania Town Fights Big Coal on Mining Rights | CommonDreams.org
This is pretty interesting. The town is arguing that the practices of the coal mining corporations would destroy their town by polluting the water table, diverting rivers, draining ponds and collapsing the land their homes stand upon. The mining corporations claim the town is violating their corporate rights. The town claims the corporations can't exert their rights at the expense of the town. This will be an interesting one to watch.
Blaine Township, a community of 600 about 40 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, hopes to trigger a legal battle that could determine the rights of municipalities throughout the United States to control corporate activity.
Some legal experts say the township is highly unlikely to win that fight. For now the dispute is in federal district court, where major energy companies have sued the township over three ordinances that would ban coal mining and require companies in any business to disclose their activities to local officials.
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In Blaine, residents are seeking to prevent coal mining -- which they expect to begin there in 2011 -- because they fear it will ruin their houses and disrupt water supplies, as they say it has in surrounding areas.
They want to block longwall mining, a technique that rips tons of coal from underground without putting anything in its place, causing the land above to sag. The practice, which has been used in coal-rich southwest Pennsylvania since the 1970s, has cracked the walls, roofs and basements of homes and opened fissures in the land, diverting or draining creeks and ponds.
In neighboring Morris Township, Tammy Bowman pointed to a pile of broken wood and concrete -- all that's left of an outbuilding she said was destroyed by shifting ground from mining beneath her 19th century farmhouse.