Contact: Charles Suggs or Andrew Munn 304-854-7372
PETTRY BOTTOM, W.Va. —The two tree sitters forced Massey Energy to cancel blasts on the the Edwight mountaintop removal mine above Pettry Bottom. According to a confidential source, Massey Energy had planned to use explosives to blast off a knob near the tree sitters at approximately four p.m., yesterday. This directly conflicts with statements made by the Edwight site supervisor.
As of sun rise on Wednesday morning, the protesters maintain that they will not abandon their treetop platforms until Massey Energy commits to ending blasting above Pettry Bottom and Peachtree, pays the full health care and property repair costs for Pettry Bottom and Peachtree residents, and the Federal Office of Surface Mining commits to the full reclamation of the Edwight mine site.
Mine security called state police to the scene shortly after noon on Tuesday, at which point they arrested Kim Ellis of New Orleans, La., and Zoe Beavers of Hurricane. Ellis and Beavers, an Army veteran, were cited for trespassing and released. According to Ellis and Beavers, they are the only line of communication between the tree sitters and mine security and police.
Following their release, state police asked Ellis and Beavers to return to the tree sit in an attempt to negotiate with the tree sitters. Stocks and Steepleton reiterated their resolve to remain in the trees until their demands are met.
Two state police officers visited the home of Mike Roselle, co-founder of Earth First!, Rainforest Action Network, Ruckus Society, and most recently, Climate Ground Zero. Under the impression that the tree sitters were under his authority, they asked that Roselle recall them, but according to Mike Roselle “We don’t have leaders. All the people who have taken part in acts of civil disobedience, including those who are in the trees today, have done so based on their own personal conviction. Responsible citizens certainly need no orders from me to do their duty in protecting their mountains and communities.”
State police site the tree sitter’s safety as a primary concern as the occupation continues. However, according Climate Ground Zero the tree sitters understand their knots and safety systems, and they’re putting safety first. They’re remaining tied to safety system at all times.
When asked to comment on the protest, Rock Creek resident Ed Wiley said, “If they are worried about the safety of the two tree sitters, they are worrying about the wrong people. What about the 230 little kids at Marsh Fork Elementary School? Those are the ones we need to worry about. They need protection from Massey’s mountaintop removal strip jobs.” Marsh Fork Elementary School is situated under a 2.9-billion-gallon sludge pond and mountaintop removal site. The school is a lightening rod of controversy over mountaintop removal and Massey Energy. Wiley continued, “They are blasting on the ridge that connects to the structure of the dam. Massey is recklessly endangering those kids, and the folks at Pettry Bottom. I’m glad those tree sitters are getting in their way.”
As the sun rises in the Coal River Valley on Wednesday morning, the tree sitters are still on their platforms at the edge of the Edwight mine site.