Alpha Headquarters Shut Down By Demonstrators Locked to Tank of Dirty Water

Alpha Headquarters Shut
Down By Demonstrators Locked to Tank of Dirty Water

Residents Protest Mountaintop
Removal Coal Mining, Health Impacts and Sludge Expansion

5 people locked to a barrel and 250-gal tank of dirty water blocking entrance to Alpha Natural Resources' HQ.

Bristol, Va.— Three residents of Central Appalachia and supporters with Mountain Justice chained
themselves to an industrial tank of black water in front of Alpha
Natural Resources’ Bristol, Va., headquarters to protest Alpha’s
mountaintop removal strip mining and coal slurry operations across
the region.

“I’m risking arrest today because mountaintop removal has to end now for the future viability of
Appalachia,” says Emily Gillespie of Roanoke, Va., whose work with
the Mountain Justice movement is inspired by Appalachian women’s
history of non-violent resistance. The tank of water represents coal
contamination from affected communities across the Appalachian

The group called for Alpha to stop seeking an expansion of the Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment in
Raleigh County, W.Va. “We want Kevin Crutchfield, CEO of Alpha
Natural Resources, to produce a signed document expressing that they
won’t seek the expansion of the Brushy Fork Impoundment before we
leave,” Junior Walk, 23, from the Brushy Fork area said.

“I live downstream from Alpha’s Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment on Coal River. If that
impoundment breaks, my whole family would be killed,” Walk said,
“Even if it doesn’t, we’re still being poisoned by Alpha’s
mining wastes everyday. I’m here to bring the reality of that
destruction to the corporate authorities who are causing it, but who
don’t have to suffer its consequences.”

More than 20 peer-reviewed studies since 2010 demonstrate a connection between
mountaintop removal coal mining operations and increased cases of
kidney, lung, and heart diseases, as well as increased birth defects
and early mortality. The ACHE act, currently in sub committee in
Washington, calls for a moratorium on new mountaintop removal
operations until a definitive, non-partisan study can demonstrate the
reason for these community health emergency levels of health impacts.

The impoundment at Brushy Fork holds back almost 5 billion gallons of toxic sludge and isconsidered the largest earthen dam in the Western hemisphere. Recently leaked records show that coal slurry impoundments in Appalachia failed 59 out of 73 total structural tests performed by the Office of Surface Mining. “Alpha is only profitable because they’re allowed to gamble with our lives—and we’re the ones who pay the cost of their negligence and toxic pollution,” Walk said.

Alpha has lost numerous lawsuits relating to pollution from mining wastes in recent years, but they
continue to violate safety regulations and expand their hazardous operations.

After refusing to take responsibility for the massive floods caused by the King Coal Highway and their
destructive mountaintop removal mining practices, Alpha continues to push forward similar projects, such as the controversial Coalfields Expressway in Virginia.

2013 MJ Summer Action Camp, May 19 – 27

Registration now online!

Click the poster image to load the full-size version. Download the quarter-sheets here.

Join Mountain Justice this May 19th – 27th for our 9th Mountain Justice Summer Action Training Camp, near Damascus, VA. Mountain Justice has grown from a fast burning brush fire that helped push Mountaintop Removal to national awareness into a critical support network at the base of a growing, national anti-extractive industry movement for social and environmental justice. This year, it’s time to fan the flames of resistance to dirty energy, and put an end to MTR once and for all, while continuing to support bottom up economic transition for a brighter Appalachia.

Will you join us as we build pressure and momentum to stop strip mining and other destructive extractive industries in Appalachia!

Mountain Justice Summer Camp is a place to learn skills, expand on the ones you already have, strengthen connections in networked social movements for Justice, meet new allies and take action to stop the destruction of Appalachia.

Workshops will range from mountaintop removal 101, and non-violent civil disobedience, to campaign and community organizing, science and SMCRA (Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act) and Appalachian Community Economics. In addition we’re including a more in depth training for trainers track to help build our collective skills as trainers. Expect direct action to be part of this camp, though participation is not required for camp attendance.

Mountain Justice welcomes parents, kids, families and people at all ages and stages of life. For several years MJ events have included a physical space and a crew of people we call the Kid Collective  to offer loving and experience child care givers and educators, armed with books, crafts, toys games and quiet space. Please think about bringing your little ones. Contact erin (at) mountainjustice (dot) org if you plan to bring kids, so we can get all the necessary details.

The final schedule will be released later, but you can register now here. To be notified for updates on camp schedule and other MJ events, sign up for our news and announcement list. Registration fees are on a sliding scale based on your ability to pay, and no one will be turned away for lack of funds. We do provide 3 meals a day, a place to sleep, and amazing trainers from across our region, so we ask for donations between $15 and $50 per day, or $150 – $500 for the duration of camp.

We hope to see you in May!

MORE, RAMPS, BMIS to host Winter Action Camp, Jan. 2013

Starting Jan. 7 in St. Louis, MO. 

Organized by Radical Action for Mountain Peoples’ Survival (RAMPS) and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS) and members of the Black Mesa/Big Mountain Communities.

Apply here today, space is limited!

Not able to come?  How about supporting the camp through a donation! 
As we are having this camp in St.Louis, folks from both Black Mesa and
West Virginia will have travel expenses. 
Please donate to help send impacted community members to the
Headquarters of the companies who are destroying their health, water and
way of life!

This MORE-RAMPS – BMIS collaboration is yet another part of the
growing national uprising against economic and resource extraction. St.
Louis is corporate headquarters to five coal corporations including
Peabody, Arch and Patriot, as well as industrial agri-giant Monsanto.
Participants will learn new skills and use them to engage in the current
campaign against these corporations through direct action and community

We can’t wait to have you join us, learn new skills, and build the movement!  Apply here today, space is limited!

The camp will feature a 2-week (Jan 7-20) and 3-week (Jan 7-27)
option.  There will be two featured tracks: direct action and community
organizing, with significant overlap and emphasis put on how these
fundamental aspects of resistance fit together.  Both tracks will
include multiple actions targeting extractive industries and provide a
solid set of skills that can be used in any campaign.  Both tracks are a
full time commitment and will include intensive training and hands on

Participating in this camp is a full-time commitment for either 2 or 3
weeks. We expect individuals to come wanting to work hard and stay the
entire time. There will be a sliding-scale fee to cover housing and
food, but we will not turn anyone away for lack of funds. All must be
comfortable in a communal living environment of 40+ people. We will not
tolerate harassment of any kind. There is limited space so apply early!

Apply here today, space is limited!

Here’s a rideshare board!

More info at

If you have any questions, feel free to contact [email protected].

Mountain Justice Spring Break 2013 — March 2-10, 2013 in Virginia — March 10-17, 2013 in Northern West Virginia

Come to the beautiful mountains of West Virginia for your Spring Break!

Learn about and take action against the destructive effects of the dirty life-cycles of coal and natural gas!

Stand in solidarity with the communities in Virginia, West Virginia and southwest Pennsylvania facing the ongoing destruction of coal mining and hydraulic fracturing!

See mountaintop removal coal mining and hydraulic fracturing natural gas extraction up close!

Take direct action against the dirty coal industry!

This March, Mountain Justice Spring Break (MJSB) will bring together coalfield residents, college students, environmentalists and concerned citizens who are interested in learning more about mountaintop removal coal mining and hydro fracking.

March 2-10, MJSB will be in the town of Appalachia, Virginia, in an area that has been heavily impacted by mountaintop removal mining.

March 10-17, 2013 MJSB will be in central West Virginia close to fracking sites.

We will spend a week cultivating the skills and visions needed to build a sustainable energy future in Appalachia. Through education, community service, speakers, hiking, music, poetry, direct action and more, you will learn from and stand with Appalachian communities in the struggle to maintain our land and culture. Mountain Justice Spring Break will also offer a variety of community service projects.

Mountain Justice Spring Break in Virginia will be held at the Community Center in the historic mining town of Appalachia. Nearby Black Mountain is being blasted right now by coal companies and you will see the effects on the forests, water, land and people. Coal trains rumble through this small community, which was once a thriving mining town.

MJSB in West Virginia will be held at a lodge in a county park surrounded by wooded hills and a pretty West Virginia mountain creek, and lots of fracking for natural gas. The Doddridge County Park is easy to find and convenient to Interstates 77 and 79 and US 50.

For more information or to register for Mountain Justice Spring Break in Virginia, go here.

For more information about MJSB in West Virginia, go here.

Come to Mountain Justice Spring Break and support grassroots, community led resistance to environmental injustice!

Fri – Sun Oct 19-21 in the Coal River Valley of West Virginia – 2012 Mountain Justice Fall Summit!

Register at

Mountain Justice Rideboard

In the heart of the mountains of southern West Virginia.

The Mountain Justice Fall Summit will help you develop skills and gain valuable experience in the struggle to stop mountain top removal.

Friday night we will kick off the summit with an awesome panel of inspiring young West Virginia activists including Junior Walk of Coal River Mountain Watch, Rachel Parsons of Athens WV, Larrry Gibson’s daughter Victoria, and several more inspiring young people.

Following the panel discussion will be a screening of the new documentary “On Coal River” which takes an inside look at the lives of people living in the Coal River Valley, and their epic, multi-year struggle to bring attention to a 2 billion gallon lake of toxic coal sludge hovering directly above the Marsh Fork Elementary School.

Saturday will feature workshops and learning about mountaintop removal, coal slurry, community and campus organizing, non violent direct action training, and more. Saturday night we will have some live mountain music, a little dancing and a bonfire.

On Sunday we will visit the late Larry Gibson’s famous Kayford Mountain to see mountaintop removal up close, and to do a community service project.

The MJ Fall Summit will provide all your meals and there will be tent camping. This is a great way to get more deeply involved in the fight to end mountaintop removal – meet new friends who care about the environment and social injustice.

The cost for MJ Fall Summit is a sliding scale ($25 – $75) and you can register here:

There is an option to remain after the weekend is over, and camp for the following week and develop more in depth plans and strategy to oppose mountaintop removal. MJ Fall Summit participants should be aware that tensions are somewhat high in the area over the MTR issue, but we are dedicated to peaceful, non-violent resistance. All MJ Fall Summit will be required to abide by the Mountain Justice non-violence policy.

Download Flyer

October 14, 2012: Celebrating Larry Gibson

Celebrating Larry Gibson:
The Life and Legacy of the Keeper of the Mountains
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Friends and family of Larry Gibson, the “Keeper of the Mountains,” will celebrate his life and legacy on Sunday, October 14 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Charleston Municipal Auditorium, located on the corner of Virginia and Truslow Streets, across from the Charleston Town Center Mall.
The public is encouraged to attend to help celebrate Larry’s life and legacy. You are encouraged to RSVP and invite friends to this facebook event.
Larry died of a heart attack on Sunday, September 9, while working on his family’s land on Kayford Mountain, which he spent the last decades of his life protecting from mountaintop removal. Larry successfully protected fifty acres of his homeplace on Kayford Mountain and he inspired people nationwide to take action to stop mountaintop removal coal mining.
The program for “Celebrating Larry Gibson: The Life and Legacy of the Keeper of the Mountains” will feature family, friends, prominent activists, West Virginia residents, musicians and preachers. This event will be preceded by the annual Changing of the Leaves Music Festival that starts at 1:00 PM on Saturday, October 13th on Kayford Mountain.
On September 13, in a private funeral, Larry was laid to rest on the mountain that he loved. Larry’s family has requested that persons wishing to express condolences make donations to Keeper of the Mountains Foundation through our website or a mailed check. Cards and letters to family can be mailed to the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation office at 179 Summers St, Ste 234, Charleston, WV, 25301.
Larry is survived by his wife, Carol, two sons Cameron and Larry, Jr. and his daughter, Victoria. He was sixty-six years old.

The public is encouraged to attend to help celebrate Larry’s life and legacy. You are encouraged to RSVP and invite friends to this facebook event.
For more information on this event and donating or volunteering to help make it happen contact Danny Chiotos with the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation at [email protected] or (304) 205-0920.

Mountain Justice Activist Sentenced to 5 Days in Jail

Today at his status hearing in Kanawha county, Ducky (Nathan Joseph) agreed to a plea deal and was taken directly to south central regional jail to serve 5 days. He plead guilty to obstruction, and was sentenced to 5 days in jail and $100 fine plus court costs.

Ducky was one of Five people who, on May 24th, boarded a coal barge as part of the 2012 Mountain Justice Summer Camp. The action took place at the Quincy Docks, operated by Kanawha River Terminals in Chelyan, WV. Ducky and two other activists locked themselves to the boat with a banner stating “Coal Leaves Cancer Stays.” Before he took action, ducky said “If ‘business as usual’ does not stop SOON, there will not be an Appalachia left for our children or our children’s children.”

Ducky also said “I’ve found constant comfort in the knowledge that I took part in this action for good reason. Everywhere I look I see problems with the coal industry. Whether it’s the overt destruction of a natural landmark that should be revered or the blatant disregard for the health and safety of industry employees and community members.”

The other 4 people who boarded the barge with Ducky still have open court cases. Ricki Draper and Jackob Mack-Boll have their status hearings on August 31st and are facing tresspassing charges.

You can write to Nathan Walker Joseph, 1001 Centre Way, Charleston, WV, 25309-1001

To guarantee that the person you’re writing to will receive your letters: Address your letter to the inmate’s full legal name. You must include a full name in the return address as well or your mail will not be allowed in. Use standard sized envelopes and paper, use only a pencil or pen with blue/black ink (typed or colored ink may cause your letter to be confiscated), don’t include cards, photocopies, clippings, or other materials besides black and white written correspondence. Photos are okay. Please assume all mail will be read by the jail. Remember that the person you are writing may not have paper or stamps to write back, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t receive a reply.

[[[[ URGENT – Support the Hobet 20 ]]]]

Urgent! We need donations of cash now to get 20 people out of jail in WV for acts of civil disobedience in shutting down a mountaintop removal mine site.

Twenty year old Dustin Steel was beaten by police, badly injured, arrested and has been refused hospital care.

We need to get Dustin out of jail today in order to get him medical care. All of these brave activists are being held on a $25,000 per person bail.

Help by donating now!

Donate now!

July 29, 2012

Contact: Charles Suggs or Mathew Louis-Rosenberg
304-449-NVDA (6832), [email protected]

Twenty arrested at Hobet mine, held on $500,000 combined bail

Police allow extensive harassment of protesters

Barboursville, W.Va. – More than 50 people affiliated with the R.A.M.P.S. Campaign stopped mining work for three hours on Patriot Coal’s Hobet mine in Lincoln County yesterday, the largest number of people ever to disrupt an active mountaintop removal site. Protesters walked onto the Hobet 45 mining complex; several locked themselves to a rock truck with banners reading: “Restore our mountains; re-employ our miners” and “Coal Leaves; Cancer Stays.” Twenty people were arrested and are being held on bail of $25,000 each at the Western Regional Jail. Multiple arrestees, including 20-year-old Dustin Steele of Matewan, W.Va., were reportedly beaten by authorities in custody.

The remainder of the demonstrators walked off the site when asked to leave by police. Authorities prevented their transport vehicles from driving down the public road to pick them up, forcing them to walk for four hours along the side of Mud River Road while allowing pro-coal demonstrators to harass them. After reuniting with their transport vehicles, they were barricaded on the road for an hour and a half by a blockade of miners in pickup trucks. A separate convoy of vehicles attempting to pick up demonstrators was blocked in by pro-coal demonstrators at a gas station where three individuals were pepper-sprayed. Pro-coal demonstrators were not stopped by police in their multiple attempts to block public roads.

“The blatant cooperation between law enforcement and the coal industry makes me embarrassed as a West Virginian. This brutality and disregard for safety is one of the clearest examples of the hold the coal industry has on the state government,” said Junior Walk of Whitesville, W.Va.

Earlier in the day, about 30 people gathered at the Kanawha State Forest with the intention of later joining the protest at Hobet. They were met by about 60 counter-protesters, but the tone turned non-confrontational as one miner struck up a lengthy dialogue with a local protester over the economic future of the region. Police arrested one activist who they accused of lying to them about not having identification, even though the only identification on him was a debit card–not a valid form of ID. After several hours, he was released with a ticket on the side of Rt. 94 far from any town and forced to hitchhike because police had confiscated his cell phone and debit card. An independent journalist was also arrested for photographing the incident.

Help by donating now!

Mountain Mobilization Shuts Down Largest MTR Mine in Appalachia

 rock truck stoppedMore than 50 protesters affiliated with the R.A.M.P.S. Campaign
have walked onto Patriot Coal’s Hobet mine and shut it down.  Ten
people locked to a rock truck, boarded it and dropped banners: “Coal
Leaves, Cancer Stays.”  At least three have been arrested, with another
in a tree being threatened by miners with a chain saw.  Earlier in the
day, two people were arrested at Kanawha State Forest before a group of
protesters headed to the state capitol.  

government has aided and abetted the coal industry in evading
environmental and mine safety regulations. We are here today to demand
that the government and coal industry end strip mining, repay their debt
to Appalachia, and secure a just transition for this region,” Dustin
Steele of Matewan, W.Va. said.  Steele was one of the people locked to
the rock truck.

Mounting scientific evidence shows that strip mining negatively impacts community health and miner health.
  Recent studies have found a 42 percent increase in risk of birth
defects around strip mines, and miners who spend at least 20 years as
strip-mine drillers have a 61 percent chance of contracting silicosis, a
virulent form of black lung.  “The coal companies are poisoning our
water and air, and they’re treating the workers no better than the land
– fighting workplace health and safety protections to get the most out
of labor as they can,” said Junior Walk of Whitesville, W.Va.

coal production declines, protesters are concerned that the region
will be left with only illness and environmental devastation as the
industry pulls out of the region and companies
file for bankruptcy to shed legacy costs.

Coal is currently going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in which union
contracts and pensions could be on the chopping block.  Both UMWA
pensions and the state’s Special Reclamation Fund are funded through a
per-ton tax on coal.  With Central Appalachian coal production in the
middle of a
projected six-year, 50 percent decline,
this funding stream is increasingly unsustainable.  Protesters are
calling on the coal industry and government to ensure that funding is
available both to honor commitments to retired workers and to restore
the land.

companies must employ their surface mine workers in reclaiming all
disturbed land to the highest standards.  Instead of arguing about the
‘war on coal,’ political leaders should immediately allocate funds to
retrain and re-employ laid off miners to secure a healthy future for the
families of this region,” said R.A.M.P.S. spokesperson Mathew

communities, from union miners to the anti-strip mining activists of
the 1960s, have a proud history of confronting the coal industry and
demanding an end to its exploitive practices with direct civil
disobedience. R.A.M.P.S. and other campaigns have returned to this
tradition to eliminate strip mining once and for all. Since its
founding in 2011, R.A.M.P.S. has organized a range of actions, from
tree-sits to blockades of coal trucks.  

Today’s protesters are among the hundreds of people across the country who are joining this summer’s National Uprising Against Extraction, using radical tactics to fight oppressive extractive industries and demand a transition to a sustainable economy.

Activists from Marcellus Shale Earth First!, Earth Firsters from around the country and other friends and allies have shut down a fracking well site in the Moshannon State Forest, near State College, Pa.  There’s two tree sitters whose anchor lines cross the access road, and if a line is cut a sitter falls.  There’s also a large debris pile blocking the road and, nearby, a crowd of supporters is standing in the road.

For continuing updates, see