Protecting Benham and Lynch | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Protecting Benham and Lynch

Support for protecting Black Mountain

The Lexington Herald-Leader exposes the states' failure to fulfill the  historic agreement to protect Black Mountain.

In 1999, the then-Gov. Paul Patton administration was part of a negotiated settlement in which the state paid $4.2 million for the timber and coal rights to preserve the state's highest peak. Extending the protection farther down Black Mountain would protect the state's earlier investment. Instead, the Beshear administration found local efforts to do just that "frivolous."

Betty Howard "We’re eager to have jobs, which is important, and we’re eager to have some sort of industry. But cutting all the timber and strip mining is one sure way of putting the last nail in the coffin for Benham and Lynch because we’re
subject to destroy our water reservoir. I can live pretty good
without a lot of things – water’s not one of them."

Betty Howard
former city clerk, city council member and mayor of Benham


Two strip mines threaten the historic towns of Lynch and Benham. A proposed A&G strip mine will destroy part of Looney Ridge above Lynch, including streams that feed into the Lynch Public Water System. The Benham water supply also originates in Lynch.

"The thing is none of those people that do all this mess live here. They do the mess and leave. The company used to care about what happened around here. They don’t now."
Diana Marsili
The proposed Nally & Hamilton strip mine is adjacent to the A&G mine on Looney Ridge, directly above Portal 31. This threatens the multimillion dollar investment in this underground exhibition coal mine.

Besides mining through streams that feed the Lynch reservoir, A&G wants to place scores of coal slurry impoundments above Lynch.

Mike O’Bradovich is a lifelong resident of Lynch. For 21 years he was a supervisor for U.S. Steel and Arch.

"My concern is the amount of water that is going to be in each impoundment, the likelihood that the larger ones would overfill or rupture and wreak havoc on the towns bellow. The other concerns is the damage to the historic homes and buildings in Lynch, especially the Methodist Church, Catholic Church, City Hall and the homes that are closest to the boundary permits and the blasting. I am sure that due to the runoff there is going to be contaminants put into our streams!"

The proposed Nally & Hamilton strip-mine butts up against the A&G strip-mine on Looney Ridge above Lynch. It will be directly above Portal 31. Experienced underground miners are concerned when a strip mining is active and above their heads. How will this affect the tourists? This mine could destroy the multimillion dollar investment in this underground exhibition coal mine.

A&G mines in West Virginia have accumulated more than $1 million in fines. And Nally and Hamilton is involved in legal action over thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act.

To protect our communities and our future, residents of Lynch and Benham have challenged the issuance of these mining permits. In addition, we filed a Lands Unsuitable for Mining petition that would declare these areas off limits to mining. Unfortunately, twice our petition was rejected by Energy Cabinet Secretary Len Peters as “frivolous.” We have appealed to Gov. Steve Beshear to deny these permits and grant the Lands Unsuitable for Mining petition, which will give our communities permanent protection. We also are appealing to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use its powers to reject the water discharge permits associated with these mines.

More about Benham and Lynch

Some past blog posts