BREAKING: June 18, 2009, Activists Risk Arrest to Stop Mountaintop Removal 


Update: 14 activists are now in custody, will be arraigned as early as 1 pm. All are safe and in good spirits.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Thursday June 18th, 2009

CONTACTS:

Nell Greenberg, 510-847-9777
Celia Alario, 310-721-6517
Vivian Stockman, 304-927-3265

Hi-Res Photos, B-roll and Video will be available, www.mountainaction.org.

Scale 20-story tall machinery to call attention to nation’s
worst form of coal mining; This is the first time a dragline
has been scaled on a mountaintop removal site

COAL RIVER VALLEY, W. VA.—Moments ago, four concerned citizens
entered onto Massey Energy’s mountaintop removal mine site near
Twilight WV and have begun to scale a150-foot dragline machine to drop
a banner that says, ‘stop mountaintop removal mining.’ The
climbers plan to stay on the enormous dragline, a massive piece of
equipment that removes house-sized chunks of blasted rock and earth
to expose coal, until police arrest them. Equipped with satellites
phones and a web camera, the climbers will be available for interviews.

This is the first time a dragline has been scaled on a mountaintop
removal site, and marks the latest in a string of increasingly dramatic
protests in West Virginia by residents and allies from across the country.
This act of protest against mountaintop removal comes just days after
the Obama Administration announced a plan to reform, but not abolish,
the aggressive strip mining practice.

“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the country’s dangerous and outdated reliance on coal.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?”

An increasing number of concerned Appalachians and environmentalists
are calling for the end to mountaintop removal, a practice that harms
the people and places of Appalachia, destroys the economic potential
of the Appalachian Mountains for long term clean energy opportunities
and jobs, and furthers the burning of climate-killing coal.

“I’ve written letters, attended hearings and called my congressman,
so far they have done nothing to stop the disastrous and unnecessary
practice of mountaintop removal,” said Charles Suggs, a 25-year
old of Rock Creek, WV who is one of those climbing today. “It
has come to the point when we must take direct action to abolish this
practice that is immorally robbing Appalachian communities of their
culture, their health and their future.”

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.

“We are all complicit in mountaintop removal whenever we turn
on our lights, and we are all responsible to stop it. Mountaintop removal,
the world’s worst strip-mining, is unacceptable. Period.” said
Rebecca Tarbotton of Rainforest Action Network, a lead supporter of
the action today. “This is not a practice that needs to be reformed.
It is a practice that needs to be abolished. By sacrificing the Appalachian
Mountains for the country’s coal addiction, we undermine future investments
in 21st century clean energy solutions that will protect our planet,
produce more jobs and preserve our natural resources.”

Mountaintop removal coal provides less than seven percent of all coal
produced in the United States, and could be replaced with energy efficiency
initiatives or renewable energy sources, instead of permitting massive
environmental destruction of historic mountain ranges and essential
drinking water for a relatively tiny amount of coal.

Recent studies have shown that the Appalachia Mountains could support
commercial scale wind energy facilities, which would bring long-term,
sustainable jobs to the region – but only if the mountains are
left standing. In West Virginia, jobs from mining account for just
3.3% employment in the Mountain State – that is less than 20,000
jobs total. A recent University of Massachusetts study found investing
in clean energy projects like wind power and mass transit creates three
to four times more jobs than the same expenditure on the coal industry.
The wind power sector has grown to employ more Americans than coal
mining as demand for clean energy has jumped over the past decade.

Just days before this action, the Obama Administration announced steps
to end the fast-tracking of certain mountaintop removal coal mine permits
and to add tougher enforcement in Appalachia. However, it remains unclear
what, if any, improvements this will have on-the-ground in Appalachia
or elsewhere. Without a significant change in policy, mining companies
will continue to destroy historic mountain ranges and bury community’s
drinking water in toxic waste.

Following this protest, on June 23rd leading climate scientist, Dr.
James Hansen, actress Daryl Hannah, Michael Brune, the Executive Director
of Rainforest Action Network, and former Representative Hechler will
join Coal River Valley residents in a second round of protests in West
Virginia.

###

For more information, video and photos, please visit www.mountainaction.org


June 19-20, 2009: Mountain Aid, Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival farm

Grammy-award winner and West Virginia native Kathy Mattea is scheduled to host and perform at “Mountain Aid” on June 19-20 at Shakori Hills in Chatham County, North Carolina.

“Mountain Aid” will raise funds for the Pennies of Promise campaign to build a new school for the children of Marsh Fork Elementary. Located in Raleigh County, West Virginia, the school is threatened daily by a 2.8 billion gallon coal sludge impoundment in the hills above them.

According to West Virginia state officials, however, a new school is a fiscal impossibility. “Mountain Aid” will help Ed Wiley and the Pennies of Promise campaign raise the money for a new school themselves. The goal is eight million dollars. Help us help the children of Marsh Fork Elementary by enjoying this world class music event in the beautiful hills of North Carolina.

Visit www.mtnaid.com

Tickets are on sale now. They are $22.50 in advance and $30 day of concert.
Gates open at 12 noon on June 19th.
Tent camping is $10 / Vehicle Camping: $40

Performers:

Nashville artist and West Virginia native Kathy Mattea is scheduled to MC and perform on June 20. Recording artist Ben Sollee and folk-rock group Donna the Buffalo have also committed to perform. The Sim Redmond Band will open Friday night. We will be updating performances and information as the festival draws nearer.

SIGN UP TO VOLUNTEER:

Please contact Michelle Wright, Mtn Aid volunteer coordinator at mountain.aid.volunteers [at] gmail.com

Come to the concert and enjoy the music. Your ticket purchase will go to the Pennies of Promise Campaign. Your parking fee will go to the Shakori Hills Grassroots festival so they can continue to help causes like ours. If you would like to volunteer to work at the concert we can use your help. Please contact us for more info. The concert is a non-profit event (501c3 status) so if you would like to make a contribution to kick-start this historic event, it will be tax-deductible.


June 9, 2009: Ansted Citizens and Gauley Mountain Need YOU!

Attorneys for citizens in Ansted, WV and the Sierra Club have appealed a permit renewal granted by the WV DEP to Powellton Coal Company for mining on Gauley Mountain in Fayette Co. WV. Gauley Mountain is in the heart of the rafting and outdoor recreation industry of WV and is also depicted on the back of the WV state quarter. The WV Surface Mine Board will hear this appeal on June 9th (and maybe the 10th as well)

We would like to have as many people in attendance as possible. Please come and show your support!

The local group of concerned citizens is fairly small, and at the last hearing the room was overrun by the Friends of Coal, so your presence would be a big help.


Tuesday June 9th 8:30 a.m.
DEP headquarters, 601 57th St.
Charleston (Kanawha City)

Feel free to Christians for the Mountains house at (304)658-4334. We can also house people who would like to attend the hearing.


Remaining Four Released from Jail

Media Contact: Charles Suggs
Number: 304-854-7372

BECKLEY, W.Va.—Seventeen mountaintop removal activists had no choice
but to enforce the laws since all administrative remedies have been
exhausted, said some of the activists and supporters at a press
conference today. The four still-jailed activists were released on
their own recognizance by Judge Burnside shortly after the press
conference, which was held on the Raleigh County Courthouse steps.

“I’ve lived in West Virginia most of my life. I’m sick and tired of
big business and the corrupt government telling us what to do,” began
Sid Moye of Mercer County, who participated in the Picket at Pettus.
“They come in and they can take our land, they can ruin our water and
they can take our resources. It’s not right and somebody has to do
something about it so we do the little things that we can.”

Eric Blevins, also arrested in the Pettus action, said, “I asked the
officer arresting me if Massey is going to be allowed to blast near the
dam and he didn’t want to talk about it. I asked him, doesn’t he have a
responsibility to enforce the law, and he said ‘Not those laws.’”

“We locked down on the Kayford mountaintop removal site with mud
from Mingo County on our boots,” Ashlee Henderson said in a statement
from the Kayford 8, “After we were arrested we had the dust remains
from Kayford Mountain added to that mud.”

“Just because a mining permit is applied for,” Debbie Jarrell of
Rock Creek, Raleigh County asked the crowd, “Is there a law that states
that it has to be granted? If there’s a cleaner way to develop energy,
such as the Coal River Wind Project, should we not take advantage of
it?”

Mat Louis-Rosenberg pointed out the absurdity of the littering
charges for the two individuals on the Brushy Fork Dam and the $2,000
bail for each of the protesters. He contrasted the bail rate with the
$1,800 fine Massey paid in 1999, when 14.5 miles of the Coal River were
blackened with slurry and the $15,000 A & G Coal paid for the death
of three year old Jeremy Davidson outside of Appalachia, Virginia in
2004.

“It was extremely unjust that the magistrate illegally posted such a
high bail, when our maximum fine was only one hundred dollars,” said
Laura Steepleton of the Pettus 7, who was released this afternoon. “He
justified his statement by telling us that we had no ties to the area.
As a human being and a citizen of this country I do not only have a tie
to this area, but a responsibility to ensure security for these
mountains and the safety for the people of this beautiful community. “

There is a video of the press conference available at www.mountainjustice.org.

Slideshow available here.

Information on the bail fund is here.

                

        

   


More Arrests on Coal River Valley as Actions Against Mountaintop Removal and Coal Sludge Dams Continue

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    
  MAY 23,
2009             

CONTACT: Sludge Watch Collective 304-854-7372

COAL RIVER VALLEY, W.Va.—More than
seventy-five residents of the Coal River Valley and members of a
coalition that includes Mountain
Justice
and Climate
Ground Zero
picketed the entrance to Massey Energy\’s
Marfork mining complex today at noon. Seven people were arrested.
The actions were in protest of the company\’s plans to blast 100 feet
away from the Brushy Fork coal sludge impoundment.

The demonstration began with a prayer
and sermon by Bob “Sage” Russo of Christians for the Mountains.
Referencing the Sermon on the Mount, he called upon citizens to be
stewards of the Earth and to move towards sustainable, stable jobs. 

Protestors stood in front of the gates
of the mine facility with signs including “7 billion spilled, 998
killed.”

“Passersby on Route 3 were
overwhelming supportive with honks, waves, and thumbs up signs,”
Rock Creek (Raleigh County) resident Julia Sendor said.

During the protest, seven people
approached the entrance to the dam facility and the Whitesville
detachment of the West Virginia State Police asked them to leave.
When the seven refused, the State Police arrested them. Dispatchers
say the activists were sent to the Southern Regional Jail near
Beckley, but that information has not been confirmed. Bail was
reportedly set at $2,000 per person.

After the arrests, former U.S.
Congressman Ken Hechler, a longtime opponent of strip mining, gave a
speech. He underscored the responsibility of citizens to safeguard
their freedoms and stand up for their rights.

The protest came just hours after
activists carried out two non-violent direct actions to protest
mountaintop removal and coal sludge impoundments.

This
morning, at the Marfork facility, two people wearing hazmat suits and
respirators were arrested after boating onto the Brushy Fork
impoundment and floating a banner that read, “No More Toxic
Sludge.” State Police charged the activists with littering and
misdemeanor trespass and transported them to the Southern Regional
Jail. Their bail has been set at $2,000.

At another action, six activists hung a
“Never Again” banner and chained themselves to a massive dump
truck on a Patriot Coal-owned mountaintop removal mine on Kayford
Mountain. State Police arrived on site to find three people chained
to the main axle of the truck and three others chained outside the
truck’s cab. The police removed the six activists, who, along with
two others supporting them, were transported to the Madison County
Courthouse, where they were reportedly processed and released.

The toxic lake at Brushy Fork dam sits
atop a honeycomb of abandoned underground mines. Massey Energy’s
own filings with the state Department of Environmental Protection
project a minimum death toll of 998 should the seven-billion-gallon
dam break. Floodwaters would reach 38.78 feet in height in the town
of Peytona, 26.61 miles downstream, within three hours and fifteen
minutes of breakage. 


May 23, 2009: Picket at Pettus!

Come join the rising tide of nonviolent civil disobedience to mountaintop removal as Mountain Justice gathers at the gates to Massey Energy’s Marfork facility in Pettus, W.Va. To stop this madness we must maintain pressure on the mining and energy companies, lawmakers and regulators. The government’s harmful inaction has failed to stop the crimes of mountaintop removal and the administrative remedies have been exhausted, leaving no option but civil disobedience. But we can’t do it alone.

WHAT: A picket style rally, focusing on the proposed mountaintop removal Site on Coal River Mountain. We want to display a pair of shoes for each of the 998 people who’s lives are endangered by the Brushy Fork Impoundment up Marfork Hollow.

WHERE: at the gates of the mine site and preparation plant in Pettus, W.Va., where they plan to destroy the last mountain untouched by mountaintop removal coal mining in the Coal River Valley: Coal River Mountain.

WHEN: 12:00

WHY: Across the street from the gates at Pettus, directly in the line of fire, is the Pettus Head Start. The 40-foot wall of sludge, swelling to 72 feet, would engulf every town from Pettus, past Whitesville to Prenter where it would still be 20 feet deep.

What you should bring: Shoes- all the old pairs of shoes you can find!

The 1972 Buffalo Creek disaster was 132 millon gallons, killed 125 people in a matter of minutes and left over 4,000 people homeless. The 2000 Martin Co., Ky., spill was 306 million gallons, contaminated the water supply for over 127,000 people but, luckily, nobody was killed. The TVA fly ash spill disaster was over 1 billion gallons its aftermath is slowly killing people living nearby.

Marfork Hollow is where the infamous Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment looms over a Head Start school, two elementary schools and close to 1,000 people. The impoundment’s dam, at 900 feet, is the tallest in the Western Hemisphere and the fifth tallest in the world, and has a 9-billion-gallon capacity. As in the Martin County disaster, when the floor of the impoundment broke through into underground mine workings and the slurry burst out through two mine portals, Brushy Fork’s 7 billion gallons sit on top of a honeycomb of underground mines. Massey wants to set off explosions as close as 100 feet to the impoundment.

If the slurry–coal toxin concentrate–broke through into those deep mines, it would rush out all sides of the mountain and down onto dozens of communities. If the dam broke, the kids at the Pettus Head Start would have 12 minutes before the sludge is 5.7-feet-deep, 31.5 feet in 20 minutes and 72 feet in 30 minutes–that’s an average of 4 feet per minute. More of the numbers on this are available in Marfork Coal’s emergency warning plan (PDF). Either of these disasters would dwarf the Buffalo Creek, Martin Co., Ky., and TVA coal ash spill disasters, combined.


May 17-23, 2009: Mountain Justice Training Camp

| Schedule | Flyers | Ride Board |

REGISTRATION FOR THIS YEAR’S CAMP HAS ENDED.

The
beautiful Appalachian South Folklife
Center
, located deep in the West Virginia
hills near Pipestem State Park is our location for the 2009 Mountain
Justice Summer
Training Camp. The purpose of camp is to provide skills for participants to spend their summer in Appalachia working with Mountain Justice and our allies to end mountaintop removal and build a sustainable future or to take these skills back home to organize for the same goals.

Founded by poet, radical labor organizer and civil rights advocate Don
West
in 1965, the Appalachian South Folk honors a long tradition
of struggle in the West Virginia coalfields. Mountain Justice held
its first two Training Camps here, and some Mountain Justice members
say they still dream
of Pipestem.

Surrounded by beautiful mountain views, with a nice main lodge/dining room
and fireplace, plus a chapel, outdoor stage and bonfire pit, the Folklife
Center also indoor dorm-style accomodations as well as pleasant tent
campsites with plenty of room.

The weather for the 2005 and 2006 Mountain Justice camps was perfect, and
we have some great speakers and bands lined up for this years’ camp, including “United
States of Appalachia” author Jeff Biggers, Earth First! co-founder Mike
Roselle, Former Mine Safety and Health Academy Director Jack Spadaro, “To
Save The Land and People” author Dr. Chad Montrie, Dr. Lynda Anne Ewen,
Professor Emeritus at Marshall University, plus prominent coalfield activists
and leaders, and … you!

With an emphasis on education, strategy, non-violence and cultural sensitivity the 2009 Mountain Justice Training Camp will provide participants with comprehensive workshops covering the impacts and politics behind mountaintop removal mining and the hands-on tactical training to take to the mountains this summer and do something about it. Take this opportunity to share strategies and build relationships that will create an even stronger network of allies and coalitions organizing resistance to MTR!

Folks attending training camp are asked to contribute a minimum of $20 plus
$10/night at time of registration. This will help tremendously in
planning and purchasing food and supplies and paying for the cost of
renting the facilities
for the week. Any additional contributions will allow us to offer scholarships
for those without the funds to attend camp. If there are any funds
remaining after camp they will be used for ongoing campaigns to fight
the destruction
of our mountains and communities. Your registration contribution includes
camping, parking, delicious healthy food (vegetarian, vegan and meat
options available) and all workshops.

Mountaintop removal is no joke. This is an important time in a very serious
campaign. Mountain Justice Training Camp is open to all activists who
want to see all forms of mountaintop removal coal mining and valley
fills abolished and
who are willing to abide by our Mountain Justice policies of non-violent
direct action. Although we often joke that we will “win” because
we have more fun (and we will!) many fruits will be born of our hard
labor, our ability to focus, and our tendency to come together as community to get things done.

Please know that as we hope there will be much music/merry making and you will be fed for the duration of the camp, opportunities to learn and share skills will be abundant and we expect each participant to be just that – a participant. That means an emphasis on fully participating in workshops, discussions, at least two community volunteer shifts (kitchen, clean up, etc.) and a summer of joining us in making history as we end mountaintop removal and build a more sustainable future. We rock because we work and play together.


Help
spread the word!
Download & print flyers.

For more information about Mountain Justice Camp, to volunteer or to help
make it happen, please email mountainjustice2009 at gmail.com.


Floods: need of emergency supplies

Among needed items for flooded areas are drinking water, cleaning supplies, shovels, brooms, mops, non-perishable foods, diapers and baby formula. For more information call 304-664-9625.

Anyone who wishes to send a financial contribution may make the check to
Union Mission and designate it for relief efforts. The mailing address is
Union Mission, P.O. Box 112, Charleston, W.Va., 25321. For more information
call 304-925-0366.

In Gilbert, Mayor Vivian Livingood and town officials have asked that
emergency supplies be dropped off at the Larry Joe Harless Community Center.

If you are coming, wear boots (rubber preferably) and gloves, bring your own water and food, plus bleach, buckets, cleaner, shovel, mop, broom etc.

Areas ravaged by floods in need of emergency supplies

Thousands of homes damaged by floods

About 150 homes flooded in Hanover

Thousands of homes damaged by floods

Mingo residents try to weather storm