A wrap-up press release from the day is here.
This October 22nd-24th, the 5th annual Mountain Justice Fall Summit will be held on Kayford Mountain in the Southern West Virginia coalfields. Coming on the heels of Appalachia Rising, we are building momentum and standing together in the coalfields for the abolition of surface mining.
- Mountain Justice Fall Summit Schedule
- Mountain Justice Fall Summit Orientation Packet
- Fall Summit QuarterSheet
Over 500 mountains have been destroyed and over 1,000 miles of streams have been buried in valley fills. Mountaintop Removal (MTR) continues to cause irreversible damage to the environment and aquatic systems that thousands of people rely on for food, water, and homes. In 1986, coal companies began stripping Kayford Mountain. Since then, “the slow motion destruction of Kayford Mountain has been continuous – 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” according to Larry Gibson, whose family has been living on Kayford since the 1700′s.
Mountaintop removal affects thousands of Appalachians on a daily basis. “We’re here on a mission, our mission is simple, we want our mountains,” said local resident Adam Hall during Appalachia Rising, “…Because every day…we grow. Our voices are heard. We get louder, and as we grow…the coal companies’ resources, they shrink, day in and day out. We will have our day. We will win this fight. No more MTR. No more sludge dams. No more!”
This devastating practice can not go on. Come join us for the Mountain Justice Fall Summit on Kayford Mountain, October 22-24, for a weekend of workshops and a day of action on an MTR site. For more info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-854-1937.
Appalachia Rising is a mass mobilization in Washington DC on September 27, 2010 calling for the abolition of mountaintop removal and surface mining.
It is a culmination of the national movement against surface mining and a foundation upon which to build a pan-Appalachian movement for prosperity and justice.
Coalfield citizens and organizers envision a vibrant mobilization of thousands — coalfield residents, students & youth, Christians & people of all faiths, families, celebrities, underground miners, activists, artists, and all who yearn for justice — to converge on Washington DC for a day of non-violent action and dignified civil disobedience targeting the politicians and agencies who could abolish surface mining with the stroke of a pen.
Questions, comments, or to find out how to take further action, please contact
Nina at the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards office: (276) 523-4380
*KEEP ISON ROCK RIDGE STANDING!*
Mountaintop removal is a devastating method of strip mining in which hundreds
of feet are blasted off the tops of mountains and dumped into neighboring valleys
in order to expose thin seams of coals. The proposed Ison Rock Ridge mine would
destroy nearly 1,300 acres of forested land, bury headwater streams and put
hundreds of Wise County families at risk. The impacts of the proposed Ison
Rock Ridge permit would occur in addition to the intensive surface mining already
taking place on over a quarter of the land area in Wise County, Virginia
Wise County residents have been successfully fighting this permit since 2007
with the support of people statewide. The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals,
and Energy has approved of the mine, but is unable to issue a permit as the
EPA has put a hold on the project for further review. The EPA is concerned
that the proposed mine would violate the Clean Water Act, and so are we.
There is no way to operate a mine of this size without valley fills—dumping
the tops of mountains into valleys, burying and destroying fresh water streams.
Strip mines of this scale threaten public health and safety.
Community members are tragically familiar with the dangers of strip mining.
The company proposing the Ison Rock Ridge mine, A&G, is the same company
that is responsible for the death of three-year old Jeremy Davidson, who was
killed by a falling boulder from a similar
mountaintop removal mine.
Senator Jim Webb has a history of championing progressive causes. However,
he has remained silent on the matter of Ison Rock Ridge and is currently receiving
disproportionate pressure from the coal industry. In turn, people concerned
about those living in southwestern Virginia and the health of the environment
MUST ramp up the pressure as well.
Senator Webb’s public support would greatly strengthen the efforts of
those on the grounds of the Virginia coal fields and send a clear message that
the welfare of people in these communities is of greater concern than profit
for the corrupt coal industry.
Activists stop strip mining machine on Coal River Mountain
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 14, 2010
Contact: Charles Suggs – 304 854 7372
Note: www.climategroundzero.org and www.mountainjustice.org
“It was usually around July you could go up there and sit and it was like the annual bear gathering up there… The whole area was full of laurels. The bears had tunnels through them, it was so thick…What’s going on today you know with the Brushy Fork of course, that whole area has just about been stripped out now, and that’s all been taken away.” Ed Wiley on Coal River Mountain.
MARFORK, W.Va. – Protestors associated with Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice have locked to and shut down a highwall miner on Coal River Mountain today. Colin Flood, 22, and Katie Huszcza, 21, are locked to the mining equipment on Massey Energy’s Bee Tree Surface Mine, near to the Brushy Fork Sludge Impoundment. Their banner states “Save Coal River Mountain” alongside images of ginseng, a morel, a deer and a bear.
The human rights activists locked down in order to bring attention to the many local resources that will be lost if blasting on Coal River Mountain continues. This destruction led the four protesters, including 22-year-old Jimmy Tobias and 20-year-old Sophie Kern, both of whom acted as direct support, to take part in the action. “These mountains are home to some of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world and contain a variety of precious flora and fauna including edible and medicinal plants that can save lives, a wide array of extremely nutritious mushrooms, old growth forest and an abundance of deer and trout,” Huszcza said. “Coal River Mountain is priceless.”
Local resident Ed Wiley laments the loss of wildlife caused by the construction of the Brushy Fork Sludge Impoundment, built in what was once some of the densest, oldest forest on the mountain.
“You could look off through the woods there and see a big Mamma bear with three or four cubs,” he says “But now they go on in there and remove the timber, and then start removing the overburden, and Momma bears with their cubs don’t come out of their dens until about the end of May, so they’re getting buried alive.”
“When the timber is gone, when the topsoil is gone, when the air and water are destroyed, the less than 4 percent of our nation’s energy needs that mountaintop removal provides will be small consolation,” said Flood, one of the four protestors, “The coal companies and land companies are blasting this land, ruining its rivers and poisoning its people for the sake of flat screen TVs, pick-up trucks and profit margins.”
The activists are spotlighting dangers associated with the massive Brushy Fork Sludge Impoundment, which is permitted to contain 8.2 billion gallons of toxic coal waste and estimates put the current level at seven billion gallons. Brushy Fork’s foundation is built on a honeycomb of abandoned underground mines. If the foundation were to collapse, as in Martin Co., Ky., the slurry would engulf communities as far as 14 miles away, according to Marfork Coal Co.’s emergency warning plan regarding the impoundment.
“The Brushy Fork sludge dam places the downstream communities in imminent danger. The threat of being inundated by a wall of toxic sludge is always present. Blasting next to this dam increases this risk at the same that it destroys the opportunity for renewable wind energy,” said Vernon Haltom, co-director of Coal River Mountain Watch, in reference to the Coal River Wind Project.
“The protesters expect a long fight before blasting on Coal River Mountain stops and they remain committed to that fight,” said Tobias, one of the members of the support team. “This is a fight for the heart of Appalachia and the soul of America,” he said. “Land and freedom have always gone hand in hand. When you strip bare the land, you strip bare freedom. We won’t stop until the land is safe in the hands of those in the community who care for it.”
“It [the destruction of wilderness] makes mountaintop removal an act of treason,” Flood said.
Climate Ground Zero’s action campaign, begun in February of last year, has kept up a sustained series of direct actions since that time, continuing decades-long resistance to strip mining in Appalachia.
WHEN: June 15, 10:00 AM
WHERE: WV State Capitol Back Steps Near Fountain, Charleston, WV
WHAT: On June 15 at the capital in Charleston, WV, coalfield residents and allies from across Appalachia will announce Appalachia Rising a mass mobilization set for September 27 in Washington DC. They are calling for thousands to join them in demanding the Obama Administration abolish surface mining and investment in sustainable economic diversification in Appalachia. Groups aim to mobilize thousands from across the country for a dignified day of action in DC to increase public pressure on elected officials and regulators to ban surface mining.
Speakers at the press conference will include:
Christians for the Mountains
Vernon Haltom, Coal River Mountain Watch
Bo Webb, Naoma, WV, Veteran
Chuck Nelson, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, retired UMWA coal miner
Maria Gunnoe, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Goldman Environmental Prize Winner
Larry Gibson, Kayford Mountain, Mountain Keepers
Mickey McCoy, Inez, KY
Laura Steepleton, Climate Ground Zero
Andrew Munn, Mountain Justice
Danny Chiotos, Student Environmental Action Coalition
Congregation member of the Charleston Unitarian Universalist Church
WHY: The movement to abolish surface mining, in particular mountaintop removal coal mining, has grown tremendously in the last year with hundreds of thousands of advocacy emails, dozens of nonviolent protests resulting in hundreds of arrests, and growing national media attention from the New York Times to the Colbert Report. Recently, the EPA passed strict new guidelines for coal operators practicing mountaintop removal, and even Senator Byrd has recognized national opposition to the practice and voiced concerns about its impact on communities. Despite this progress, mountaintop removal continues to damage and displace coalfield communities throughout southern and central Appalachia.
Many see 2010 as the defining moment in the effort to abolish mountaintop removal. With upcoming hearings for the Clean Water Protection Act and the Appalachian Restoration Act as well as midterm elections, coalfield residents and their allies are mobilizing a national call to stop surface mining once and for all.
Appalachia Rising is calling for the abolition of surface mining, a just transition for coalfield communities, and renewed investment in a prosperous and just economy in Appalachia.
Every day, across Appalachia, MTR coal companies are literally blowing the tops off the mountains: clear-cutting forests, wiping out natural habitats, poisoning rivers and drinking water, and eliminating entire ecosystems. Not only are these mountains lost forever, but the heritage and the health of families across the region are being sacrificed for a mere 7 percent of the nation’s coal.
More photos from the rally outside the bank are available by clicking the image to the left.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 7, 2010
Ashley Browning 859-248-7027, Martin Mudd 859-963-5574
Lexington Protest Shames PNC’s Mountaintop Removal Financing
PNC Bank is the biggest US financier of Appalachian mountain destruction
LEXINGTON, KY—At least 40 concerned citizens rallied in downtown Lexington today to express their anger at PNC Bank for financing mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining. Local activists were joined by members of the group Mountain Justice and residents from mountaintop communities, who spoke out about the direct impact that this destructive form of mining has on their community, health and environment.
“Several banks have realized that they shouldn’t be involved with companies that are causing the total annihilation of a culture by their use of MTR. It’s unfortunate that PNC, like Massey, is putting profits over people and over God’s creation,” said Mickey McCoy, a Martin County resident whose community was affected by a coal sludge spill in 2000.
Also present at the protest were a colorful street-theater troupe of ‘clowns,’ who acted out a performance of a coal company blasting the top off a mountain, then extracting a bag of money and passing it between U.S. Banks like a hot potato, to symbolize PNC Bank doing business with companies that other banks have moved away from.
The protesters paid a visit to the PNC branch at Main and Deweese streets and released a banner inside attached to some helium balloons, which said “PNC + Your Money = Toxic Tap Water.” Activists also passed out literature about the issue to bank customers and employees and delivered a letter to the bank branch manager asking that PNC end their financing of mountaintop removal.
“PNC Bank was a recipient of bailout funds, so their investments in MTR represent my tax dollars. I am vehemently opposed to the destruction of the mountains, forests and communities of Appalachia, and I’m concerned by the impacts of strip mining on water quality in central Kentucky,” said Martin Mudd, a Lexington resident and activist with Kentucky Mountain Justice.
Since January 2008, PNC has become the number one U.S. financier of mountaintop removal coal mining. The bank has provided more than $500 million in loans and bonds to six companies practicing mountaintop removal: Massey Energy, Patriot Coal, Alpha Natural Resources, International Coal Group, Arch Coal and Consol Energy (Source: Bloomberg). These six companies are collectively responsible for almost half of all mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia.
“The idea of corporate responsibility has come up repeatedly in recent weeks following the coal mine and oil disasters. That responsibility extends beyond profits to the health and wellbeing of our communities. Some banks, such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo have made commitments to reduce and even end their funding of the dirtiest coal mining practices. By continuing to finance mountaintop removal coal mining PNC is throwing that responsibility aside,” said Amanda Starbuck of Rainforest Action Network, who is campaigning for banks to end their investments in the sector and shift their support to clean, renewable energy and green job creation.
PNC recently ranked bottom in a score-card report on MTR financing by Rainforest Action network and the Sierra Club. The bank earned an “F” for its total failure to take environmental risks into account in its lending practices.
A copy of the report card and supporting data can be found here: www.ran.org/reportcard
Mountaintop removal mining is a devastating form of mining where companies blow the tops off mountains to reach a thin seam of coal and then dump the waste rock into valleys below. This destructive practice has buried nearly 2,000 miles of streams and threatens to destroy 1.4 million acres of land by 2020. The mining destroys Appalachian communities, the health of coalfield residents and any hope for positive economic growth.
Join MTR abolitionist group Mountain Justice in Lexington, KY, Monday
6/7 at 11:30 on the courthouse lawn to send a strong message that we
will no longer tolerate the criminal destruction of our mountains,
streams and communities.
This rally marks the beginning of a summer of non-violent direct
action in Kentucky to pressure corporations, banks, politicians and
regulators to end destructive strip mining for coal and help build
sustainable economies in Appalachia.
There will be inspiring speakers, street theater, and environmental
justice activists young and old so this action will be a lot of fun.
Come during your lunch hour to stand in solidarity with our fellow
Kentuckians in the coalfields!
We will meet at 11:30 on the courthouse lawn at the corner of
Limestone and Main in downtown Lexington. Contact Martin at if you
Mountain Justice Summer training camp 2010!
Wiley’s Last Resort in Letcher County, Kentucky
May 27th through June 6th
Registration is now closed
Join us for ten days spent cultivating the skills and visions needed to abolish mountaintop removal and build vibrant, healthy, self-reliant communities. Camp is a time for training, strategizing, bonding, service and action for veteran and novice activists, for people living both within and outside of the coalfields, for women and men, for people of all races, for youth and elders, and anyone in between.
Realizing that we ought to model independence from coal, camp will be off the grid this year!
We’re so excited to be off the grid, but for Mountain Justice, a sustainable community is more than some solar panels and rainwater barrels. It’s about the people that defend what they love, the people who work to create sustainable communities, and the nourishing relationships between them. Our focus on sustainability will mean building a strong and diverse organizing community that works on both resistance and solutions.
Trainings and Discussions
- community organizing
- air and water monitoring
- administrative and legal avenues to stop MTR
- media work
- direct action and civil resistance
- alternative economies
- sustainable livelihoods
- bringing together divided communities
- and a lot more!
Trainings will be collaborative as possible, so come open minded and willing to actively participate—this is a collective movement! If you want to facilitate a workshop, please let us know! Our hope is to continue to build a broad community to sustain, guide and nourish us as we all continue working to abolish surface mining and rebuild economically self-sufficient communities in Appalachia.
No community is sustainable without fun, dancing, bonfires and Appalachian mountain music! So bring your instruments, dancing shoes and high spirits, we’ll be celebrating the ways of life we’re fighting to preserve!