The Episcopal Diocese of Alabama’s Task Force for the Stewardship of Creation has officially registered their opposition to the proposed coal strip mine at Shepherd Bend on the Black Warrior River near Cordova, Ala.
The task force did so in the form of a letter to Dr. Judy Bonner, the interim president of the University of Alabama, and Dr. Robert Witt, the chancellor of the UA system and former UA president.
The letter is dated April 5, 2012.
Scribner, in a Facebook message, told Weld Local he had just received permission from the task force to release the letter.
As reported in Weld Local, the UA has become the focus of a sort of guerrilla PR campaign against the proposed mine, because the UA is the largest land and mineral-rights holder at the site and could effectively scuttle the entire project if they refuse to sell or lease its land for mining.
In the letter, The Rev. Canon J. Thompson Brown, Canon Emeritus, the Cathedral Church of the Advent, mentions the “widespread opposition” to the mine and points out that the other groups and organizations to register their opposition include the Birmingham City Council, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, the League of Women Voters of Alabama and the student government associations of both UAB and the University of Alabama.
Regarding the mine’s possible effects, Brown mentions some of the possible negative effects of discharges from the mine, which would be located only 800 feet across the Black Warrior from a Birmingham Water Works Board intake that helps provide drinking water for about 200,000 people.
“Opposition is based on solid assessments of irreparable damage to the land, illegal levels of water pollution that will result from sulfates, chlorides, iron, and other heavy metals that will be discharged into the river, and damage to the river and its wildlife from massive increases in sedimentation,” Brown’s letter states. “In addition the cost of making the water safe for human consumption is expected to escalate steeply.”
The developers of the mine are Shepherd Bend LLC. One of the owners of the firm is Garry Neil Drummond, a UA trustee emeritus and frequent UA donor.
David Pelfrey of Black & White recently did some excellent reporting on the University’s stance on Shepherd Bend, in a March 22 piece titled “A River Ruined Through It.”
The Birmingham News, including their lead green writer Thomas Spencer, have written about Shepherd Bend several times, as well.
There is also a short documentary about the mine controversy titled The Ripple Effect, by Rebecca Marston (thanks to Kerry Echols of Black & White for sharing this link with Weld Local).
Jesse Chambers is the editor of Weld Local and a contributing editor at Weld for Birmingham. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.