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A recent study from environmental consulting firm Downstream Strategies LLC shows that wind development is a better economic land-use option than mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virginia. The study was commissioned in June by Coal River Mountain Watch (CRMW), a group that works to stop mountaintop mining and is encouraging development of wind projects instead.

The study shows that the proposed wind farm, consisting of 164 wind turbines and generating 328 MW of electricity, would provide over $1.74 million in annual property taxes to Raleigh County. By comparison, the coal severance taxes related to the mountaintop removal mining would provide the county with only $36,000 per year.

The report also analyzed the benefits of opening a wind turbine manufacturing plant in Raleigh County. It concluded that substantial economic benefits would also result from the development of a strong wind industry in southern West Virginia.

CRMW is asking Gov. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to exercise his authority to rescind Massey Energy Co.'s mountaintop removal coal mining permits.

The Downstream Strategies study also indicates that reducing the Coal River Mountain's altitude by hundreds of feet will make the mountain uneconomical for wind farm development.

SOURCE: Coal River Mountain Watch

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