September 10, 2009: Kayford 8 Benefit – Lexington Kentucky

Reel World String BandThe Reel World String Band has agreed to play at the Mountain Justice spaghetti dinner benefit for Tanya Turner and the Kayford 8!

The five awesome women in this folk-American roots band have been great supporters of the mountains for over 30 years. They have performed many coal and activist songs such as “Draglines,” “Cranks Creek,” and “Come On All You Coal Miners.”

Here are the details:

Thursday Sept 10 @ 7:00 PM
Mind Body Studio, 517 Southland Drive, Lexington KY
Spaghetti dinner and live music
$10-$20 donation

This is a benefit for Tanya Turner, an EKU grad from Pineville, KY, who U-locked herself to a coal mining truck on Kayford Mountain, West Virginia in a non-violent protest of mountaintop removal, following the Mountain Justice Summer camp in May. Tanya faces fines and court costs of $1900.
All proceeds go to help pay Tanya’s fines and court costs.

info: davecooper928[at]yahoo.com or call 859 299-5669


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Treesitters descend, threatened with chainsaw, $50,000 bail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
31 August 2009

Contact: Charles Suggs, [email protected] 304-854-7372

PETTRY BOTTOM, W.Va.—The two Edwight tree sitters, Nick Stocks and
Laura Steepleton, came down from their 80-foot tulip poplar perches
this afternoon and were taken into State Police custody. They have been
preventing more blasting from rocking the homes of Pettry Bottom
because harmful government inaction has failed to do so. They have both
been charged with trespass, obstruction and littering, and their bail
has been set at $25,000 each. For the past five days, they endured
psychological torture, verbal assault and threats.

Anonymous eyewitnesses said the Massey-hired security guards were
telling the treesitters they were going to rape and kill the
treesitters. On Sunday night, the guards put a running chainsaw to both
trees, cutting them a little bit. The guards told Steepleton today that
they were going to get them out of the tree no matter what because
Massey ordered them to.

The State Police were absent from the scene from the time the two
ground support were first arrested last Tuesday until Stocks came down
today, except for their second arrest on Wednesday. They were also gone
while arborists were cutting the trees around Steepleton and as she
descended.

Soon after his conversation with Webb, Sgt. Smith had to return to
the tree sit due to reports of someone felling the trees with a
chainsaw while Steepleton’s whereabouts were unknown. What happened
after this is unclear except that both Stocks and Steepleton were
arrested.

The guards felled trees around Laura and were going to make Stocks’
tree fall into hers. At this point, Laura decided to come down because,
as she said, “These people are nuts.”

Bo Webb of Naoma spoke with Sgt. Smith of the State Police and
offered to stand at the base of Steepleton’s tree tonight to protect
her from the guards, but Smith said he’d have to arrest Webb if Webb
went up to the sit. “I told him he’s arresting the wrong people. I
think Manchin is behind this, he’s the Commander in Chief of the West
Virginia State Police,” Webb said.

“It’s like nobody wants to listen to the people from the community,”
Carol Beckner of Pettry Bottom told Jessica Lilly of West Virginia
Public Radio. “If maybe people from the outside comes in and does
something maybe they’ll start listening to somebody.

“They have to start listening to somebody.”

“The people of Pettry Bottom and Clays Branch are living below a
land slide waiting to happen and the only barrier between fallen trees,
mud, boulders and water and the Pettry Bottom community is a wooden
stake and tarp fence. The DEP needs to step in and protect its citizens
– not Massey Energy,” Steepleton said. “Stop the blasting above Petty
Bottom, and end mountaintop removal.”

“They are blasting on the ridge that connects to the structure of
the dam [above Marsh Fork Elementary],” Ed Wiley of Rock Creek said.
“Massey is recklessly endangering those kids, and the folks at Pettry
Bottom. I’m glad those tree sitters are getting in their way.”

Steepleton and Stocks climbed 80 feet up a pair of tulip poplars,
within 300 feet of blasting and 30 feet of the Massey Energy Edwight
Surface Mine. They unfurled two banners from their treetop platforms:
“Stop Mountain Top Removal” and “DEP – Don’t Expect Protection”.
Blasting is prohibited when people are within such proximity, as Mining
Safety and Health Administration regulations require that people not be
hurt in the course of blasting and that non-blasting employees all be
cleared from the area.

This was the third protest in two weeks to focus attention on the WV
Department of Environmental Protection and their embattled secretary,
Randy Huffman. It also follows days after the leak of DEP biologist
Doug Wood’s memo on the scale of environmental degradation caused by
mountaintop removal, directly contradicting Huffman’s statements at a
senate hearing last June.


2nd tree-sitter leaves post, ending W.Va. protest

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A tree-sitting protest designed to halt blasting at a Massey Energy mountaintop removal mine in southern West Virginia ended Monday when the activists descended from an 80-foot high platform and were arrested.

State Police confirmed that Laura Steepleton and Nick Stocks were taken into custody after spending six days in a poplar at the Edwight mine in Raleigh County.

Stocks, 25, was charged with trespassing, obstructing and littering, and State Police Sgt. M.A. Smith warned of other possible charges. Steepleton, 24, was expected to face the same charges. Both were to be arraigned later Monday.

The protesters are affiliated with Climate Ground Zero, an environmental group based in Rock Creek. Stocks recently moved to the coalfields from Idaho, while Steepleton moved several months ago from central Florida.

Climate Ground Zero spokesman Charles Suggs had said sleep deprivation was endangering the pair, who endured harassment by flashing lights, air horns, loud bangs and, over the weekend, the brandishing of a chain saw.

Steepleton had been communicating with her organization and others via text message, but her cell phone batteries were dead by Monday morning.

The protesters wanted to stop blasting by Virginia-based Massey and draw attention to its mountaintop removal mining practices. Blasting to expose coal under the mountain ridges throws rock and dust, and vibrations from the explosions can damage homes by shifting foundations and cracking walls.

The protesters demanded that Massey stop blasting and pay for health care and home repairs for people who live near the mine.

Those demands were not met, but Suggs said the protest — the 13th in the Coal River Valley this year — succeeded in drawing a “positive, wide-ranging response” from the public, including local residents.

“It was more symbolic than a lot of the other ones because they were physically acting as a barrier between the blasting and mudslides in a community that was already enduring this,” Suggs said.

In a statement by the group, Stocks faulted the state Department of Environmental Protection for failing to adequately protect citizens who live near mines and said concerned people must act when “communities are made unsafe and unlivable.”

“If the DEP doesn’t do it, we must do it ourselves, and we will go beyond,” he said. “We will stop the devastation of this mountain and protect the communities below. We will end mountaintop removal.”

Massey did not immediately comment.

On the Net:
Climate Ground Zero: www.climategroundzero.org
Massey Energy: www.masseyenergyco.com


One tree-sitter to descend after week defending people from blasting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA ADVISORY
August 31st, 2009

Contact: Charles Suggs
304-854-7372

One tree-sitter to descend after week defending people from blasting

PETTRY BOTTOM, W.Va. – After six full days in an 80-foot-tall poplar tree, Nick Stocks will voluntarily come down at 10:00 a.m. today.  Since Tuesday morning, Stocks has been living on a platform 30 feet from Massey Energy’s Edwight Surface Mine, preventing further blasting over the community of Pettry Bottom.  Stocks will turn himself immediately over to the State Police.  Fellow tree sitter Laura Steepleton remains in a neighboring tree with no immediate plans to come down.

Stocks stated “To this day the DEP has acted as a thin, weak delegate for big coal in West Virginia. They have circumvented, sidestepped, dismissed and lied to communities and individuals who look to them for protections that ought to assure healthy children, safe drinking water and a continued existence in the valley. To this day they have not done their job to even the slightest degree. When the government fails in its obligation to protect its people and communities are made unsafe and unlivable, it is the responsibility of all concerned people to turn attention to that failure and do all in their capacity to ensure the safety of the community. If the DEP doesn’t do it, we must do it ourselves, and we will go beyond. We will stop the devastation of this mountain and protect the communities below. We will end mountaintop removal.”

Stocks and Steepleton have endured 24-hour sleep deprivation tactics and the brandishing of a chainsaw.  All day and all night Massey security personnel have flashed bright lights, sounded air horns, and banged loudly on metal buckets in an effort to prevent the tree sitters from getting any sleep.  “The security guards’ actions with the lights and air horns are making the situation less safe,” Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice volunteer Charles Suggs said.  “Depriving sleep from people who have to maintain safety systems to prevent a fatal fall endangers their lives.” 

More details at: www.climategroundzero.org


Night comin’ soon for Tree Sit Day 5

On Day 5, tree sitters still sittin’ strong.  They’re still preventing blasting on top of Pettry Bottom and it’s illegal to blast tomorrow, the Lord’s day. 


August 26, 2009: TREE SIT DETERS BLASTING, ENTERS SECOND DAY AT MASSEY EDWIGHT MINE

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.

For more information, video and updates go to www.climategroundzero.org/


Tree sitters stopping blasts above Pettry Bottom, Coal River Valley, W.Va.

FOR
IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Treesit
stopping blasts above Pettry Bottom, Coal River Valley

Contact:
Mike
Roselle or Charles Suggs 304-854-7372

Editor:
Photos
available through climategroundzero.org or by contacting us.

PETTRY BOTTOM,
W.Va.—Two people are occupying two treetops at the edge of Massey
Energy’s Edwight mountaintop removal site above Pettry Bottom and
Peachtree in Raleigh County, West Virginia. At 6:30 a.m., concerned
citizens unrolled two banners reading “Stop Mountain Top Removal”
and “DEP – Don’t Expect Protection” from their treetop
platforms. They are perched 80 feet above the ground, within 30 feet
of the mine, and within the 300 feet of blasting. Blasting is
prohibited when people are within such proximity.

Nick Stocks, 25, and
Laura Steepleton, 24, of Rock Creek, West Virginia, are in the trees.
Kim Ellis, of New Orleans, Louisiana and Zoe Beavers, of Hurricane,
West Virginia are on the ground below. All protesters are associated
with Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice.

“I am sitting in
this tree to halt the blasting that endangers the residents of Pettry
Bottom and Clays Branch,” Steepleton said. “The people of Pettry
Bottom, Clays Branch are living below a land slide waiting to happen
and the only barrier between fallen trees, mud, boulders and water
and the Pettry Bottom community is a wooden stake and tarp fence. The
DEP needs to step in and protect its citizens – not Massey Energy
– stop the blasting above Petty Bottom, and end mountaintop
removal.”

According to a
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health publication and
multiple cases of citizen documentation, flyrock has been known to
land a half-mile from blasting sites. Several homes in Pettry Bottom
are within a half-mile radius of the permitted blasting area. A map
available from Aurora
Lights
at
http://auroralights.org/map_project/images/maps/hazy/Permitted_MTR_Mines.jpg
shows the proximity of homes in Pettry Bottom to blasting on the
Edwight site.

Pettry Bottom
resident, Carol Beckner, has stated “Me, my husband and both of my
children all suffer from respiratory problems, allergies, bronchitis,
and really bad headaches, from constantly breathing in coal and
silica dust and toxic fumes like diesel fuel and ammonium nitrates.”
The tree sitters say they will not willingly descend until blasting
ceases above Pettry Bottom, Massey Energy pays the full cost of
healthcare and home repair for Pettry Bottom and Peachtree residents,
and the Federal Office of Surface Mining commits to supervising the
full reclamation of the Edwight mine.

Army veteran and
lifelong West Virginian, Zoe Beavers states “I am on this mountain
because I believe that every single West Virginian who is proud of
being from ‘Almost Heaven’ should take a stand against
mountaintop removal. I am here because DEP officials have failed to
stop the blasting. I am putting my body and reputation on the line
to do their job and stop the blasting. I served in our military so
that we can all live in a country that does not exploit and destroy
its land and people.”

This is the
thirteenth in a series of non-violent direct actions and protests
that have brought together Coal River Valley residents, NASA climate
scientist James Hansen, students, underground miners, military
veterans, concerned citizens and environmentalists from across the
nation with the goal of ending mountaintop removal. This is the third
protest in two weeks to focus attention on the WV Department of
Environmental Protection and their embattled Secretary, Randy
Huffman. It also follows days after the leak of DEP biologist Doug
Wood’s memo on the scale of environmental degradation caused by
mountaintop removal, directly contradicting Huffman’s statements at
a senate hearing last June.


8/14/09 – 8/19/2009 – Nationwide Rallies in Opposition of Mountaintop Removal

August 14 through August 19, concerned citizens nationwide
rallied together at regional Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters
for National Days of Action protesting mountaintop-removal coal mining (MTR).
Demonstrations took place in Atlanta, New York, Boston, Dallas, Kansas City,
Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, DC. These actions were organized
and led by numerous environmental and social justice organizations across the
country, including United Mountain Defense, Student Environmental Action Coalition,
and Energy Justice Network, all working together for the ongoing Mountain Justice
movement against mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia.

“Mountaintop removal is one of the greatest environmental and human
rights crises plaguing this country. Appalachia cannot continue to be
ignored.” said Bonnie Swinford, United Mountain Defense Board Member.

Participants rallied to raise awareness of the Obama administration’s
approval, under EPA chief Lisa Jackson, of MTR permits that violate
the Clean Water Act and various other environmental laws. Concerned
citizens and coalfield residents cite numerous “appeasements” of
the coal industry, in spite of Obama’s campaign rhetoric opposing the
destructive practice. These include continued permits for dumping hazardous
mining waste into streams and valleys, weakening mining regulations
intended to protect waterways, and appointing several former coal industry
executives to regulatory positions.

EPA’s Region 4 Acting Regional Administrator, Stan Meiburg, joined
the activists during his lunch break at the Atlanta office, thanking them
for their actions. When asked what individuals could do to help the EPA
work on this issue more effectively, Meiburg explained that the EPA really
needs additional credible scientific data on the environmental impacts
of surface mining, from people on the ground.


Four blockade WVDEP HQ entrance, demand fed takeover, Sec.’s resignation

  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  Aug. 11, 2009

Protesters demand federal EPA takeover of WVDEP, Huffman’s resignation

Contact:  Mat Louis-Rosenberg or Charles Suggs 304-513-4715

CHARLESTON,W.VA.— At 9 a.m., four protesters entered the West Virginia Departmentof Environmental Protection (WVDEP) and locked themselves to the officeentrance. They are demanding that the agency hand over control of keyprograms to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Office ofSurface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) and that WVDEPSecretary Randy Huffman resign. Around them, dozens of demonstratorsreiterated those demands. Inside the WVDEP, the four protesters aredisplaying signs that read “Closed Due to Incompetence” and “Departmentof Encouraging Pollution.”

Twelve protests in West Virginiasince February 2009 have demanded an end to mountaintop removal, andover 90 citizens have been arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience.

“Weneed people in the DEP that are not one sided and don’t work for thecoal companies, who do their jobs right and not with eyes wide shut,”said Tom Beckner of Pettry Bottom, Raleigh County.

This protest follows on the heels of two formal petitions filed by Coal RiverMountain Watch, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West VirginiaHighlands Conservancy, Sierra Club and the Appalachian Center for theEconomy and the Environment. The petitions ask OSMRE to take overenforcement of the Stream Buffer Zone rule and EPA to take overenforcement of water pollution limits.

After an hour, Laura Steepleton, Michael Bowers, Andrew Munn and Laura Merner were arrested by law enforcement.

For additional information on WVDEP incompetence, see http://climategroundzero.org/epa-takeover-dep.pdf.
EPA petition: http://wvgazette.com/static/coal%20tattoo/epapetition.pdf.
OSM petition: http://wvgazette.com/static/coal%20tattoo/bufferzonepetition.pdf.
Image available at http://climategroundzero.org/images/lockdown.jpg.

     

###

August 14, 2009: Mountaintop Removal Protest in DC

On Friday, August 14 SEAC is hosting a centralized action against mountaintop removal at EPA Headquarters, in Washington DC. Everyone, drop what you’re doing and make plans to be there!

Date:
Friday, August 14, 2009

Time:
12:00pm – 3:00pm

Location:
EPA Headquarters

Address: 302 12th St. NW,
Washington, DC

DC area camping:

Lake Fairfax Park – Campgrounds (24 miles, about 30 min. from D.C. near Fairfax, VA)

Robert C. McDonell Campground (8 minute drive away from the Grovesnor Metro Station)

Little Bennett Park Campground (34 miles, about 40 min. from D.C. near Germantown, MD)


PROTEST FOLLOW-UP: Below are cities that contain EPA regional offices. After you return from the protest in DC, we need an action of any sort on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday (8/17-8/19) – signs, rallies, or just handing out material at as many offices as possible. We still need contacts to pin and date and “bottomline” the action in Philly, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle! If you are from or near any of these cities and can give a few hours of your time, please contact us at christopherscottirwin {at} yahoo.com or on Facebook.

  • Atlanta – is meeting TUESDAY at 11:30, carpool from Knoxville contact tanyabturner [at] gmail.com
  • Boston – is meeting MONDAY at noon
  • New York – is meeting MONDAY at 11 am
  • Philadelphia
  • Chicago
  • Dallas – is meeting WEDNESDAY at 11am, carpool from Denton contact undoubtedlythomas [at] yahoo.com
  • Kansas City – is meeting WEDNESDAY at 2:30 pm

  • Denver
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle

If we don’t stop this backsliding NOW it will be too late. THERE ARE 150-200 BACK-LOGGED MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL PERMITS THAT THE EPA IS ABOUT TO RELEASE TO THE COAL INDUSTRY.

If you can’t make it make to one of the regional offices then call them on Friday, August 15, 2009.
EPA Region 1
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
1 Congress Street
Boston, MA 02203
New England States: (888) 372-7341

Outside New England: (617) 918-1111
EPA Region 2
New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands
290 Broadway
New York, NY 10007
(212) 637-3000
EPA Region 3
Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia
841 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 191107
(215) 814-5000, (215) 597-9800
EPA Region 4
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
61 Forsyth Street, SW
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 347-4727
EPA Region 5
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin
77 W. Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 353-2000
EPA Region 6
Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
1445 Ross Avenue
Dallas, TX 75202
(214) 665-6444
EPA Region 7
Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska
726 Minnesota Avenue
Kansas City, KS 66101
(913) 551-7000
EPA Region 8
Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming
999 18th Street
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 293-1603
EPA Region 9
Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Guam, Marianas
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 744-1702
EPA Region 10
Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington
1200 Sixth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 553-1200

Here are some more ideas on what to do. Be Creative:

  1. Make a ton of pics of MTR sites and slather the downtown with them.
  2. Picket the EPA with some signs and pictures at noon and 5pm and 7am when they are going to and leaving work.
  3. Hand out info about MTR and Obama at EPA offices.
  4. Make a call.
  5. Email voicing your opposition to this backsliding.
  6. Contact or email all those obama websites and list where you can comment–lets use his own machine to voice dissent.
  7. Call and set up an appointment and go talk to the EPA.
  8. Call and complain to your local Democratic national office or Obama headquarters–go speak to the grassroots folks and ask “what the hell?”

Mountaintop Removal Permit Tracker

Pending Permits in Appalachia and Possible Impacts on the Environment and Nearby Communities.



Key for Tracker:
SMCRA # = Surface Mining Control & Reclamation Act Permit # P = Pending
404 = Individual 404 Permit Lit = Issued, but held up in litigation
21 = NWP 21 Authorization (Note: This national permit is currently under review and subject to revocation.)
Note: While thorough and accurate, this list is not all-inclusive, primarily because obtaining information about pending mountaintop removal coal mining permits is extremely difficult. The Army Corps of Engineers in particular is not generally forthcoming with what should be public information, and it takes persistence to find out about new mining. (source:
action.sierraclub.org)

Incomplete Timeline of Obama and the EPA Caving to Coal Industry Pressure

January 20, 2009 – EPA sends letter to Army Corp stating concerns that Buffalo Mountain valley fill permit violates the Clean Water Act and violates WV’s own extremely weak clean water regulations.

March 23, 2009 – EPA sends three letters to Army Corps of Engineers expressing “significant concern” regarding three permits, two in WV and the other in Pike County KY (Colony Bay letter, Reylas letter, Big Branch letter) (EPA press release).

March 24, 2009 – EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announces she instructed EPA staff “to review other mining permit requests” and “follow the letter of the law in ensuring we are protecting our environment.”

March 24, 2009 – AP picks up story stating “The Environmental Protection Agency is putting on hold hundreds of mountaintop coal-mining permits”. Hundreds of news outlets pick up the story. Coal industry freaks out.

March 24, 2009 – Lisa Jackson’s press secretary Adora Andy “clarifies” by releasing a statement that said “The Environmental Protection Agency is not halting, holding or placing a moratorium on any of the mining permit applications. Plain and simple.” “…the agency does not expect problems with the overwhelming majority of permits”. (see statement here…)

March 25, 2009 – Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) threatens EPA stating “Let me make very clear – America has over a 200 year history of mining West Virginia coal, and that is not going to change any time soon….reports suggesting that the EPA’s recent letters are the end of [mountaintop removal] coal mining are inaccurate and unhelpful.”

May 6, 2009 – West Virginia Governor Manchin flies to regional headquarters in Philadelphia to bully EPA officials on behalf of Consolidated Coal Company to ensure Buffalo Mountain permit is not stopped. (see EPA’s original position above, Jan 20)

May 14, 2009 – EPA’s national manager for water programs sends submissive letter to Congressman Rahall promising 42 out of 48 valley fill permits reviewed were cleared for approval.

May 15, 2009 – Congressman Rahall (D-WV) releases press statement congratulating himself for his successful lobbying efforts on behalf of the coal industry.

May 15, 2009 – EPA responds to Rahall’s announcement: “EPA decided not to provide additional comments on the remaining 42 permits after consideration of the nature and extent of project impacts. 28 of the projects have two or fewer valley fills….None have more than six.”
(Yes, you read that right. The EPA has determined that 14 permits, some with as many as 6 valley fills on a single permit – in an area that is already ravaged by massive flooding, dangerous air quality, landslides and toxic surface and well water from mountaintop removal – will not have a significant impact on the area residents or ecosystem.)

May 28, 2009 – The coal lobby sends letter to congress asking them to push through almost 200 pending Mountaintop Removal/valley fill permits. They also ask congress to “fix” the regulatory system so no more of their permits are stopped or delayed.

June 1, 2009 – Eight members of the House of Representatives sign on to a reworded version of the coal lobby letter and send it to US Army Corps Brigadier General John Peabody pressuring him to push the permits through.

June 10, 2009 – The Obama administration files a notice that they will appeal a recent federal court ruling that would have blocked nationwide, streamlined mountaintop removal permits (the “just trust us” permits). Streamlined permits were blocked in part because the federal courts found the Army Corps of Engineers were using the permits to allow illegal activity.

June 11, 2009 – The Obama administration issues a press release claiming, “administration officials…are taking unprecedented steps to reduce the environmental impacts” of destroying the ancient mixed mesophytic forests and mountains of Appalachia using millions of pounds per day of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil and then dumping the toxic, heavy metal laden mining waste into the surrounding valleys and streams – causing unprecedented flooding, landslides, sickness, economic ruin and uncompensated property damage to the area residents.

June 16, 2009

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington files a complaint against the Department of Homeland Security over Obama’s refusal to release White House visitor logs. The citizens group and MSNBC were denied “records of visits by top coal executives in an effort to learn the extent to which these individuals may have influenced the administration’s energy policy.” The White House visitor logs have twice been determined public record by federal courts under the Freedom of Information Act.

July 6, 2009

Obama announces his nomination of Joseph Pizarchik to be director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. Mr. Pizarchik has a history of lax enforcement of the law, working to ease environmental and mining regulations on behalf of the coal industry and eliminating public participation while Director of the Bureau of Mining and Reclamation in Pennsylvania.