July 28, 2009: Legal Funds Needed for Anti-MTR Activists Arrested Defending Kayford Mountain

A fierce campaign is being waged in southern West Virginia against companies destroying the Appalachian Mountains with mountaintop removal. This week, five activists received hefty fines ($1900 each) after chaining themselves to mining equipment on Kayford Mountain in May after Mountain Justice Summer camp.

Now they need your support in paying these fines and keeping the campaign going.

Please consider donating to Mountain Justice using the Donate Now button on the left or by mail. Please mark your donations “Kayford Legal Fund”. Every contribution helps! Fundraising with your friends and communities to stop this atrocious practice helps even more.

Read the letter below from our friend Kim for more details.


Hello one and all,
As some of you may know, in May of this year, eight Mountain Justice activists willfully trespassed on to the mountaintop removal site on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia with the intention of shutting down mine activity and directly preventing the destruction of one mountain, for one day. I was one of those protesters, and am proud to say that we did stop them from blasting Kayford that day. We went on to the mine site with the emotional support and prayers of many who have wished they could take this same action, including Larry Gibson who lives on Kayford Mountain and is the grandfather of our resistance to mountaintop removal.

It may have been only one day that we stopped the blasting, but when all the political routes to justice are bought and sold by the coal companies that exploit the land and people of Appalachia, sometimes the most effective action is to place yourself directly between the land and those that intend to destroy it. If these types of actions were happening weekly or daily all across our region, mountaintop removal would soon become economically impossible, and ultimately we would command the attention our legislators and politicians, so that they’d have no other choice but to notice our actions and listen to our voices.

Our action wasn’t without consequence, and now 5 (and likely all 8) of the protestors are facing nearly $2000 each in fines for their acts of conscience. We received the maximum fine allowable for this offense, which is unprecedented in this type of protest. We need your support now more than ever, as many of us are devoted to this all volunteer work on a full time basis and are not able to pay these fines alone. We took this risk for the greater good, and we hope you will be willing to support us for doing so.

Please consider donating to Mountain Justice. You can also contact me directly for more information.

For the mountains and the people and the birds and the bears,
Kim


July 26, 2009, 12 PM: Justice in July

You are invited to join concerned citizens in expressing their commitment to a clean, safe
environment and community in a celebration for clean air and rally to speak out about the death
cycle of coal. This is a call for you to take a Sunday out of your life to show your dedication
to protecting the air, watersheds, mountains and communities of Appalachia. Stand with Mountain Justice,
United Mountain Defense, and Three Rivers Earth First! as we unite with one strong voice revealing TVA’s
deep involvement in the death cycle of coal.

When: Sunday, July 26 12:00 – 2:30

Where: In front of the TVA towers at Market Square in downtown Knoxville, TN.

What: The Mobilization for Clean Air is a family friendly gathering that will bring light to how the death cycle of coal impacts our lives and the places we live. The event will feature speakers that tell how their lives have been impacted by different stages of the death cycle of coal as well as performers of poetry, theater, music, spoken word and more. A lively march downtown will take place before re-gathering in front of TVA where citizen who feel compelled will have the opportunity to engage in the American tradition of civil-disobedience. If you would like to follow the examples of Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Thoreau by participating in this part of the event then you must come to the non-violence training the day before.

Non Violent Direct Action Training :

When: July 25 at 5:00 p.m.

Where: The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Earth Science Building, Room 400

Why: TVA is deeply involved in all stages of the death cycle of coal.

TVA is both a public and private corporation. As a federal organization they were created to serve
the public (with a board of directors appointed by the US president), but have since morphed into a
private, profit-seeking corporation. For decades, TVA has perpetuated environmental degradation with
coal burning power plants, displaced communities for its hydroelectric dams, and created numerous health
risks from nuclear power plants. TVA is the #1 purchaser of mountain top removal coal in North America
and their service areas in TN, KY, VA, GA, MS, NC, and AL have some of the worst air quality in the country!
East Tennessee, specifically, has one of the highest rates of asthma in the country. TVA is also
responsible for the largest coal waste disaster in our nation’s history. Following continual neglect
to one of TVA’s oldest coal burning power plants, a dike broke and released over 1 billion gallons of
coal ash into the adjacent watershed and community. This disaster has displaced many families, created
a public health crisis, and has left a beautiful environment and community in ruins.

Join us to expose TVA’s dirty involvement in the death cycle of coal and let it be
known that we want a future that includes clean air, preserved ecosystems, intact
mountains, whole communities, and healthy children.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

  1. Bring an instrument – and learn how to play “Rocky Top”
  2. Dress up! Yep—we want you to come in your
    Sunday best. During the civil rights movement people
    wore suits and ties all the time – so can we.
  3. Respect. Show respect for all the people you encounter during the event. There
    will be animal rights activist and hunters, Christians
    and Atheist, Peace Activist and Military Veterans at
    this event. Show respect for Appalachia by showing
    respect for the diversity of people that come to
    defend it.
  4. Bring signs showing support for Tennessee’s air, watersheds, and heritage. We need art, banners,
    musicians and you. Especially you.
  5. Help by playing a support role for the event. We
    are looking for mature, intelligent individuals to
    sever as a support team. We need people to serve in
    the following roles photographers, videographers, street theater, artists and musicians, and care
    team. Please contact us at tanyabturner [at] gmail.com or 865 689-8976 if you want to volunteer.

Commitment to Nonviolence

The organizations sponsoring this event are committed
to nonviolence. Please come with the
understanding that this event has a specific focus
with specific goals. By participating
you are agreeing to remain peaceful.

Housing

Please contact United Mountain Defense if you need housing for the weekend: umdvolunteerhouse [at] yahoo.com

FOR MORE INFORMATION
umdvolunteerhouse [at] yahoo.com – question, housing, volunteer opportunities, rsvp

Justice In July Action Website
Phone: (865) 689-2778


Call Gov. Joe Manchin today 304 558 2000

Our friends in the West Virginia coalfields are in danger, and they need your help.

Please call Gov. Joe Manchin today 304 558 2000 and tell him to stop the violence against environmentalists in the coalfields. You don’t have to live in West Virginia to call – mountaintop removal is a national issue!

During the June 23 rally at Marsh Fork Elementary, Judy Bonds was assaulted in an unprovoked attack by a miner’s wife (photo above) and miners blasted an air horn into the ear of a musician. Death threats were hurled at actress Daryl Hannah, who spoke against mountaintop removal. And there have been an increasing number of threats made against our friends, the people who are on the front lines of the effort to save mountains in West Virginia. Miners are driving past the Coal River campaign house late at night honking, screaming obscenities and threats.

Judy Bonds of Coal River recently told me the story of an out-of-state visitor coming back for a family reunion who stopped to look at the Marsh Fork School, which is next to a Massey Energy coal preparation plant. As he got out of the car to look at the school, a black pickup roared into the parking lot, spinning and throwing gravel. An angry man got out of the pickup carrying a shotgun saying “You out-of-state people need to get the (expletive) out of here!”

A July 4 family picnic atop Larry Gibson’s Kayford Mountain was disrupted by angry drunken miners, one of whom threatened to slit the throats of picnickers – see the shocking 4 minute video here.

Internet message boards are filled with vile hate speech and threats against environmentalists and “hippies.” And check out some of the comments on this You Tube video of the Massey dragline action – here’s one:

SUPERHIPPIESLAYER wrote: “WAR ON HIPPIES HAS BEGUN……And remember Shoot a hippie a day and the stinking bastards will go away”

It seems that tensions are growing, and I fear that more violence may be inevitable. As you can see in the July 4 picnic video, our side has remained calm and passive and we have ignored the threats. And we will continue to remain peaceful and non-violent, but we need help from the authorities to protect the safety of people in the coalfields.

“Friend of Coal” Gov. Joe Manchin has ignored the situation so far, so we need to bombard his office with phone calls today and tomorrow.

Please call 304 558 2000 and tell Gov. Manchin to stop the violence.

Calls from all over America are needed – tell Gov. Manchin that you are now afraid to visit the Mountain State after watching the videos on You Tube of coal thugs threatening picnickers. Tell him to keep the peace.

Thanks everyone for making the call!


July 4, 2009: Massey’s coal thugs threaten violence at music festival


Excerpt from www.southernstudies.org

The Mountain Keepers Music Festival took place this place this July 4th weekend at a park on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia, an event organized by the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation in solidarity against mountaintop removal mining.

But Saturday’s fun was disrupted when some 20 supporters of Massey Energy, a coal company with mountaintop removal mining operations in the area, crashed the festival and threatened attendees verbally and with obscene gestures. People who were there report that some of the pro-mining protesters were wearing Massey Energy-issued blue and orange shirts.

“You get off our goddamn mountain!” yelled one heavyset man who was not wearing a shirt. “This is ours! We was here first!” He threatened to slit one attendee’s throat.

…continue reading article at southernstudies.org.


July 2, 2009: Anti-mountaintop removal arrestees need your help!

We desperately need your donations to help out some climate heroes in need. As you probably know, 30 people — including NASA Scientist James Hansen, Actress Daryl Hannah and former Congressman Ken Hechler — were arrested last Tuesday opposing mountaintop removal and a second coal silo at Marsh Fork Elementary school in southern West Virginia. To learn more, see some of the incredible coverage below.

You may also know that the brave citizens were charged with block traffic and obstructing an officer. We were forced to block traffic by the Fiends of Coal who had blocked our access to the road — but no one came near obstructing an officer. We are trying to get the outrageous charges dropped, but as it stands, these trumped up charges may cost each person $500-600!

Most of the 30 were average citizens — including students, grandmas and grandpas, teachers, and many, many local heroes to the movement– each fed up enough with the destruction of our mountains and endangerment of children to put their foot down and say, “No More!” No more coal plant dumping toxic dust onto an elementary school, no more blasting apart our mountains and our heritage, and no more fueling climate change.

However, taking a stand In these tough economic times – and any time – $600 is a lot of money! Especially when you’re working night and day just to save your home from mountaintop removal. Please donate to help cover the costs of these citations — and help out local heroes like Larry Gibson, Goldman Award Winner Judy Bonds, Bo Webb, Lorelei Scarbro, Winnie Fox and many, many more.

Every little bit helps! Even $5 or $10 will add up!

To Donate:
Make checks to “Mountain Justice” and mail to Mountain Justice, PO Box 86 Naoma, WV 25140

or by using the DONATE button on this website.

Clearly mark checks or online payments 23 or June 23 Protest.


July 4-5, 2009: Mountain Keepers Festival, Stanley Heirs Park, Kayford Mountain, WV

On Saturday, July 4th and Sunday, July 5th, the annual
Mountain Keepers Music Festival will be held at Kayford Mountain’s Stanley
Heirs Park . This concert is the premier music festival that celebrates environmental
justice in southern West Virginia. The two day event will feature local and
regional musicians playing a variety of bluegrass, gospel, country and old
time music, as well as children’s games, a pot-luck meal and silent auction.
This is a free concert that will celebrate Appalachian life and attendees
are encouraged to bring a covered dish.

The purpose of the concert, according to local citizen activist Larry Gibson,
is to show support for “human rights, health and water rights, and basically
everything that we have.” Larry Gibson, whose family has lived on the
same land for over 230 years, has been working to protect his health, his heritage,
and his community from the ravages of Mountain Top Removal. The concert will
be for remembrance of the homes and jobs lost, while also celebrating communities’
efforts to resist MTR and promote sustainable jobs for a better future.

For more information about the concert: www.myspace.com/mtkeepersfest

There is a potluck Saturday afternoon so please bring a dish to share.

This is a drug and alcohol free event.

This is a free concert, but donations are welcome and appreciated.

Directions to Stanley Heirs Park/Kayford Mountain

  1. From I-77 / I-64, take exit 79, Sharon-Cabin Creek.
  2. Go RIGHT at the bottom of the ramp.
  3. Make an immediate LEFT onto Cabin Creek Road.
  4. Go 7.5 miles to the “Y” at Leewood and take the RIGHT fork.
  5. Go 3.5 to 4 more miles and come to blacktop and dirt.
  6. At the left hand corner, take the one-lane bridge across the creek.
  7. Travel another 1.5 miles and bear RIGHT on the road with a guardrail up the mountain.
  8. At the summit, there will be a white rock and a fork in the road. Bear RIGHT and continue on for 0.1 miles.
  9. The Stanley Heirs Park is on the LEFT.

June 29, 2009: Activists Drape 25-Foot Banner On EPA Building, Call on EPA to Stop Mountaintop Removal Mining

Source: risingtidenorthamerica.org

BOSTON, MA – Activists with Rising Tide draped a 25-foot banner reading, “Mountain Top Removal Kills Communities:
EPA No New Permits. MountainJustice.org’
at the downtown offices of the Environmental Protection Agency this morning. The group is urging the agency to block over
150 pending permits for mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia.
1

“Mountaintop removal is destroying our nation’s most diverse forests and historic communities,” said Alex Johnston, a Rising Tide activist.
“President Obama and the EPA need to take immediate action to stop the bulldozers from destroying America’s oldest mountains and Appalachians homes.”

This act of peaceful protest comes just days after top NASA climate scientist, James Hansen, actress Darryl Hannah, and
29 others were arrested as they protested mountaintop removal mining in southern West Virginia. 2 On June 18, 14 concerned
citizens entered onto Massey Energy’s mountaintop removal mine site near Twilight, WV. Four of them scaled a 150-foot dragline
and unfurled a 15×150 foot banner that said, “Stop Mountaintop Removal Mining”, while nine others deployed a 20×40 foot banner on
the ground at the site which read,”Stop Mountaintop Removal: Clean Energy Now.”

On the campaign trail, Obama spoke out against mountain top removal, saying “We’re tearing up the Appalachian Mountains because of our
dependence on fossil fuels,” and “We have to find more environmentally sound ways of mining coal, than simply blowing the tops off mountains.” 3
Despite these campaign statements, the Obama administration and the EPA have continued to allow mining corporations to continue dumping mining
waste into streams and encroach on stream buffers, while offering only weak promises of protection from the “worst impacts” of mountaintop
removal operations.

“It’s way past time for civil disobedience to stop mountaintop removal and move quickly toward clean, renewable energy sources,”
said Judy Bonds, Goldman Environmental Prize winner and co-director of Coal River Mountain Watch of West Virginia. “For over a century,
Appalachian communities have been crushed, flooded, and poisoned as a result of the country’s dangerous and outdated reliance on coal.
How could the country care so little about our American mountains, our culture and our lives?”

Every day, mountaintop removal mines use more explosive power than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Mining companies
are clear-cutting thousands of acres of some of the world’s most biologically diverse forests. They’re burying biologically
crucial headwaters streams with blasting debris, releasing toxic levels of heavy metals into the remaining streams and groundwater
and poisoning essential drinking water. According to the EPA, this destructive practice has damaged or destroyed nearly 2,000 miles
of streams and threatens to destroy 1.4 million acres of forest by 2020. 4


1 http://www.mountainjustice.org/events.php?id=154
2 http://www.mountainaction.org
3 http://washingtonindependent.com/43861/epa-mining-decisions-favor-coal-industry
4 http://www.citizensforethics.org/node/40129


June 26, 27, 28, 2009: National Day of Action

WE NEED YOUR HELP! Below are ten cities that contain EPA regional offices. We need an action of any sort – signs, rallies, or just handing out material at as many offices as possible. 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.

  • Boston*
    Contact: Ken
    kenward (at) brightlines.org or
    Colleen, colleenelizabeth (at) riseup.net
  • New York
  • Philadelphia
  • Atlanta*
    Contact: James
    jkane3 (at) utk.edu
    770-845-5002

  • Chicago
  • Dallas*
    Contact: Thomas, undoubtedlythomas (at) yahoo.com
  • Kansas City*
    Contact: kellis.bayless (at) gmail.com
  • Denver*
    Contact: Joe Ferrone
    303.641.1708
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Washington D.C.*
    Contact: Andrew, anromu (at) gmail.com
*Actions currently being planned. Contact christopherscottirwin {at} yahoo.com for detail.

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, June 26.
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.