October 30, 2009: National Day of Action to tell the EPA: Stop Mountaintop Removal

Mountain Justice, Rainforest Action Network and Energy Justice Network are again calling for rallies in every city where the EPA has an office. This is our third national action, following up on ones in June and August.

At that time the agency, in response to an letter from WV Congressman Nick Rahall had rubber stamped 42 out of 48 of the permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers to blow up mountains in Appalachia for thin seams of coal. Since then, the EPA has put a hold on 79 nine more, 23 in WV and others in KY, TN and OH.

We’re glad the EPA has taken this action and we need for the agency to do more: right now, it is only reviewing those permits, not overruling the Corps. And Lisa Jackson, the agency’s chief has yet to accept our office to come to the region and see exactly what is being destroyed.

The objectives of protest at the EPA office are:

1. To communicate to the staff and new officials at the EPA that they have a problem. That there will be no end of protest, calls and political pressure until they take real action.

2. To introduce the new staff to the issue of strip mining practices like Mountain Top Removal.

3. To communicate to the Obama administration through the EPA officials that coal is more than just destructive to the air we breath and the climate, but it has a real cost in the coal fields of Appalachia–and that we are not going to be ignored.

We need bottom liners and other who will attend a rally in each of the 11 cities.

  • Atlanta [email protected] or call 865 689-2778 for info or to arrange carpools*
  • Boston
  • New York – Annie Sartor annie [at] ran.org
  • Philadelphia – Robin Markle robinmarkle [at] gmail.com
  • Chicago – Jeff Lucas – jeffro217 [at] gmail.com
  • Dallas
  • Kansas City – Kellis Bayless kellis.bayless [at] gmail.com

  • Denver – Kristen – kowen3 [at] uwyo.edu
  • San Francisco – RAN sparkin [at] ran.org
  • Seattle
  • Washington D.C. – Kate – Rooth krooth [at] ran.org
*There is a carpool leaving from Laurel High School, 1539 Laurel Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37919 at 7:45 a.m.

Here’s how you can join:

Organized by Mountain Justice, Energy Justice Network and Rainforest Action Network

Endorsed by Climate Ground Zero, Coal River Mountain Watch, Greenpeace and Rising Tide North America

To Donate:
Energy Justice Network:
Use this link or send a check to our 501-3c umbrella
http://tr.im/give_Energy_Justice
Action Center Inc.
1434 Elbridge St
Philadelphia PA 19149

Mountain Justice:
Use the Donate (paypal) button on this site or send a check to:
Mountain Justice
PO Box 86
Naoma, WV 25140

To find your epa regional office:
http://www.epa.gov/epahome/whereyoulive.htm


October 27, 2009: Action Speaks Out Against UK Alliance with Coal

Press Release from Kentucky Mountain Justice:

Lexington, KY– Early this morning, Kentucky Mountain Justice organizers made a bold statement about the proposed “Wildcat Coal Lodge” by hanging a banner from Memorial Coliseum. The banner, reading ‘University of Coal? Or University of Kentucky?’, along with the Mountain Justice website, criticized a recent decision by UK’s housing board to accept “Coal” in the name of a new athletics facility.

This decision came after the university received a $7 million donation from Joe Craft and friends, of Alliance Coal, to rebuild the Wildcat Lodge. The controversial name is due to a stipulation in the donation, requiring the word “coal” in the name of the new building. Considering the recent trends to move to more sustainable energies in our country and abroad, as well as the continued controversy over mountaintop removal and similar mining practices, this public relations effort of the Coal Industry comes as little surprise. Gaining a lasting “brand” on an institution as influential as the University of Kentucky is certain to prove profitable for the industry. Unfortunately, the alliance further regresses the University’s standing as a progressive and “green” campus, despite their touted aspirations.

The measures taken this morning were clearly directed to the University Board of Trustees, who will decide today at 1:00pm whether or not to accept the building’s proposed name. Students and community members alike are expected to rally at the meeting, in hopes of discouraging this name change, and hold the Board accountable for their representation of the campus community.

According to the website displayed on the banner, www.mountainjusticesummer.org, Mountain Justice is a pan-Appalachian movement and call to action for people to stand up against the final destruction of our life supporting ecosystems – mountain range removal.


Please send your comments to the Army Corps of Engineers on NWP 21 – Deadline Oct 26!

(Thank you to United Mountain Defense for the video from the Knoxville ACoE Public Hearing)

Please take a few minutes out of your day to contact the Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) and let them know you support their proposed elimination of the streamlined permitting process — known as Nationwide Permit 21, or NWP 21– which allows coal companies to seek quick approval for their mountaintop removal coal mining projects. The deadline for comments is October 26, 2009.

We are making undreamed of gains in the fight against strip mining and Mountaintop Removal for coal and as a result the coal industry is responding with intimidation and thug behaviour. At the ACoE hearing on October 13, the mining industries public relations firms orchestrated shipping bus-loads of people to the hearings to intimidate and harass anti strip mine activist. In WV, Friends of Coal supporters were shouting environmentalist down as they tried to testify, literally crowding some activist up against a wall while chanting and threatening their safety requiring a police escort through their masses. There was no removal of those people who were disrupting the event and the Army Corps and the cops complied with the threats from the coal thugs by requiring many environmentalists to leave the hearing for their own safety.

These corporate financed efforts are reminiscent of the same tactics that were used in the health care shout downs, tea baggers and overt right wing fox sponsored activities. Many of the pro-coal people who testified escalated the anti-Obama anti-Democrat tactics to an entire new level at these hearings. And they completely missed the point.

Shouting, threatening and bullying do not get in the administrative record–comments do. We can overwhelm the Army Corps of Engineers with comments and neutralize any advantage the tactics of the pro mountaintop removal crowd. The ACoE is accepting written comments until October 26th. Please help flood the ACoE with comments stating your support for the Army Corps’ decision to stop issuing rubber stamp permits.

We need you to take a minute to comment, email, write the Army Corp of Engineers to tell them you support the revocation of NWP 21 in favor of a permit by permit process. No two mountains are the same, no two streams are the same, no two strip mines are the same–the one size fits all practice that is NWP 21 has failed miserably and need to be revoked.

Some points you can make are:

  1. I applaud the Army Corps of Engineers for its proposal to end the use of the one-size-fits-all NWP 21 permit which allows for a streamlined approval of mountaintop removal operations in Appalachia. For decades, mountaintop removal and valleyfills have had a devastating impact on local communities, the economy, and our environment.
  2. NWP 21 for permitting mountaintop removal mining should apply to the entire Appalachian region, including northern Alabama. Failure to do so might lead the coal industry to simply relocate operations to those areas with the most lenient permitting process.
  3. No grandfathering of permits should be allowed. Past permits should be reviewed to make sure they meet the spirit and intent of the Clean Water Act.
  4. NWP 21 should never have been issued, because filling these streams has more than minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effects.
  5. The use of NWP 21 is a violation of the Clean Water Act because it is suppose to be used for activities that produce “no significant environmental impact” and the destruction of entire mountains and mountain ranges cannot be considered an insignificant environmental impact.
  6. EPA’s own scientists have determined that mountaintop removal and other surface coal mining activities authorized by NWP 21 are causing cumulatively significant degradation of streams and forests in Appalachia – including the destruction of ecologically valuable headwater streams and the pollution of downstream waters.
  7. The Corps has long recognized that “the purpose of the NWP program is to reduce regulatory delays and burdens on the public, to place greater reliance on state and local controls, and to free our limited
    resources for more effective regulation of other activities with greater potential to adversely impact the aquatic environment.” 56 Fed. Reg. 14, 598—14, 605 (Apr. 10, 1991).
  8. Possible points to make about this:

    • Constantly fighting coal companies and failed agencies to protect our homes, lives, water, and communities is a much greater burden on
      the public.
    • We have no state or local controls. WVDEP is a failed agency that fails to control illegal coal company activity.
    • Nothing adversely impacts the aquatic environment more than burying it.
  9. The impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining are significant and permanent, the Army Corps should not issue any additional authorizations under NWP 21 while the agency finalizes the process of modifying the permit to prohibit its use in Appalachia.
  10. The way the ACOE conducted these hearings was illegal and some of the public hearings amounted to sanctioned riots which coal supporters attended solely to disrupt. By failing to control the meeting process so that all in attendance had equal opportunity to testify, the Corps became a party to the denial of these first amendment rights. The Corps should reschedule these meetings and conduct them in an orderly fashion that protects the first amendment rights of all citizens.

Submit your Comments Today!

Online:

http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#submitComment?R=0900006480a2019e

Email comments will not be accepted. Send written comments to:

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
Attn: CECW-CO, Ms. Desiree Hann
441 G Street, NW., Washington DC 20314-1000

Call:

Pittsburgh Regulatory Branch: (412) 395-7155 or
Ms. Hann at (202) 761-4560

Public Notice:

http://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/or/or-f/09-46.pdf

FAX: (412) 644-2811


SAMPLE COMMENT 1:

I am submitting these comments regarding the review of the use of NWP 21 for permitting mountaintop removal mines. Where shall I begin? I believe the NWP 21 permit process for mountaintop removal mining should be revoked for the following three reasons:

First, I have always viewed the use of NWP 21 to permit mountaintop removal mines as an obvious and egregious violation of the Clean Water Act. NWP 21 is only supposed to be used for activities that produce “no significant environmental impact” and to apply that term to mountaintop removal mining defies rational thinking. The destruction of entire mountains and the filling of miles of streams cannot by any stretch of logic be considered an insignificant environmental impact. The impacts extend many miles downstream from the buried streams. I am not expressing a mere opinion here. I have worked as a professional stream ecologist for the past 30 years and the biological science clearly demonstrates that the effects on streams are significant and most likely permanent. For this reason I do not believe any existing permits should be grandfathered if NWP 21 is revoked.

Second, using NWP 21 to permit mountaintop removal mines streamlines (i.e., rubberstamps) the approval process for mine companies, but deprives coal field residents of their rights to influence the mine permit process in ways that would reduce the impacts on their health, their environment, and the economic viability of their communities. The convenience afforded to the multi-billion dollar international mining corporations through NWP 21q is achieved at the expense of the residents of Appalachia who often suffer economic ruin as a result of the mining activities with no practical avenue of recompense.

Third, delegating the regulation of mine permits to states such as West Virginia is the same thing as forfeiting any regulation of the industry given that virtually all branches of the that state’s government are practically run by the coal industry.

Another point I would like to make is that revocation of NWP 21 for permitting mountaintop removal mining should apply to the entire Appalachian region, including northern Alabama. Failure to do so might lead the coal industry to simply relocate operations to those areas with the most lenient permitting process.

Lastly, I want to comment on the shameful and illegal manner in which public hearings on this issue were conducted. I have seen videos of these events and communicated directly with people who attended them and the Corps failed to protect the first amendment rights of citizens who attended these meetings to comment on this issue. Some of the public hearings amounted to sanctioned riots which coal supporters attended, not to testify, but to disrupt, and to prevent any other concerned citizens from testifying who may have opposed the use of NWP 21 to permit mountaintop removal mining. By failing to control the meeting process so that all in attendance had equal opportunity to testify, the Corps became a party to the denial of these first amendment rights. I believe the Corps at the very least should reschedule these meetings and conduct them in an orderly fashion that protects the first amendment rights of all citizens. Failure to do so would represent clear bias on the part of the Corps for one position over all others.


Safety of Dozens of Citizens Threatened at ‘Public Hearing’

On October 13, 2009, The Army Corps of Engineering hosted one of six hearing
on the proposed suspension of Nationwide Permits 21 permits on mountaintop
removal in Charleston, WV. Tonight, hearings are also occurring in Pittsburgh,
PA, Big Stone Gap, VA and Cambridge, OH, and citizens are concerned for their
safety at these hearings as well.

At the Charleston, WV hearing, lack of respect for public safety as well as
lack of proper planning created an extremely dangerous situation and prohibited
many people from attending or speaking at the hearing. There was no removal
of those people who were disrupting the event and there was no serious reprimand
of those who were disrupting the event. The Army Corps did not act to prevent
this disruption of free speech.

Before the hearings, the Army Corps and local police were contacted by residents
concerned for their safety. Clearly these concerns were not taken seriously.

Citizens who were endangered are calling again upon Governor Joe Manchin and
other prominent state officials to publicly reprimand those responsible for
creating this dangerous environment and perform a full inquiry into propaganda
from the coal industry of other entities that may have contributed to this
violent situation. Previous pleas to the governor and industry and political
leaders have gone ignored. Instead, inflammatory rhetoric has increased.

Those attending noted that many claims of the coal industry and supporters
were extremely exaggerated or simply untrue. This appears to be the result
of a national fear campaign which is impeding progress in the state of West
Virginia and endangering the lives of citizens. The issues which impact those
who live near mountaintop removal are serious and devastating, and those facing
these issues should receive a safe atmosphere to address them.

It was noted that in West Virginia, the Federal Court decision under Judge
Goodwin all but ended the use of NWP 21 for valley in southern WV where the
Huntington Corps regulates such activities. Therefore, it is likely that none
of those threatening on behalf of the coal industry had jobs that were in any
way impacted by the outcome of the hearing.

Following are a few representative statements from citizens who attended the
hearing, each are available for comment or follow up interviews.

From Maria Gunnoe, Community Organizer, The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition:

After I attempted to scream my comments over the mike, and had put up with
the harassment of the so called “coal miners” surrounding me in
my seat and shouting everything that anyone could lay their tongue to behind
me,
kicking my seat and propping up their feet on my arm rest (mud and all),
I then attempted to peacefully leave.

On the outside the same mob attacked me. One did put his hands on me in their
march following me out of the building and into the parking area. I continued
walking and others were behind me, and they had called police officers to my
rescue. The guy harassing me did say that he knows where I live. I am not real
sure what that is supposed to mean. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

The guys that were behind me were VERY loud in everything they done. One made
a call and he told who ever he was talking to that they were at a rally in
Charleston, and then in the next breath he said it was a protest. I really
don’t think they even know why they were there. All they knew was it had something
to do with their jobs. All they knew is where to show up, and they understood
this to be a protest not a hearing.

Every time anyone started to speak they mob overwhelmed them. I don’t think
anything from out side was actually heard.

Where were the state police?

The ACOE should have another hearing for us! When is our opportunity to
say we’ve got problems with this? I think we should ask for a closed
meeting with the ACOE since the Coal industry had theirs. As usual the industry
tried
to drown us out and make us not matter. It was almost like they were afraid
that we were going to tell their secrets to the world or something.

From Danny Chiotos, Organizer, The Student Environmental Action Coalition:

I was inside the Army Corps of Engineers Public Hearing on the repeal of Nationwide
Permit 21 from 5:30 to 9:30. I am somewhat hesitant to call it a Public hearing
because Mountaintop Removal supporters actively prevented us from giving comments
and actively prevented people who came at 6:30 or after from waiting in line
to enter the building. From what I experienced inside the building and saw
outside the building, the Mountaintop Removal industry’s actions were a direct
and successful attack on our ability to participate in this Hearing.

I saw Mountaintop Removal supporters shout as loud as they could through
every single anti-mountaintop removal speaker. For example, they shouted
through
Vivian Stockman’s comments and then when the Army Corps gave her 15 extra
seconds to speak, the MTR Supporters shouted a countdown of “15-14-13…3-2-1”.
They awarded her an additional 30 seconds after that where she tried to put
together a statement, but there continued to be intentional disruption of
her comments. When I got up to speak, I spoke of my love of my country and
my love
of our values of democracy. I had to shout this and the rest of my comments
into the microphone so that I could hear myself speak over the crowd.

The Army Corps of Engineers does hard and good work, but the way this Hearing
was handled allowed the Mountaintop Removal Supporters to prevent both sides
from being heard. There were many many many many times during the event that
the MTR supporters were asked to be quiet – but none of those requests were
honored. There was no removal of those people who were disrupting the event
and there was no serious reprimand of those who were disrupting the event.
The Army Corps should have had a swifter and more serious response at the beginning
of the event to prevent this kind of disruption of all of our free speech from
happening.

While I was in a conversation, the MTR supporters repeatedly shoulder shoved
me to get me to move.

Outside of the building, the situation was even more serious. There was
a crowd of 500 or so Mountaintop Removal supporters who physically and verbally
threatened those on our side who were trying to patiently wait in line. Many
people who would have waited in line to enter and give their comments (as
people
left from inside) were forced to leave, infringing on their freedom to participate
in this event. My girlfriend and her step-father were outside, about to enter
the building when their lives and safety was threatened. At 7:49 PM I received
a text message from her that said, “They [MTR Supporters] are screaming
at us Said theyd string us from trees One had to be restrained for attacking
us We werent responding They [the police] said it was easier to make us leave
than to make them [MTR Supporters] stop We were next in line to get in.” The
person who had to be restrained from attacking her took three police officers
to hold him back. When I went to the police to alert them to the situation,
they threatened to kick me out. I got a similar call from friends who were
trying to wait to get in but were unsafe from the attitude of the mob-like
crowd. This happened time and time again that evening.

When I left the building with a small crowd of friends under police escort,
which was necessary because we were getting reports of threats and violence
from the MTR supporters outside, there were repeated threats and obscenities
hurled at me.

The response of the police was to punish our attempts to voice our opinions.
The City of Charleston’s police did all they could to respond to the situation
and I know that they were trying to maintain safety as much as possible and
I respect them. The police also did a great job of escorting me and other anti-mountaintop
removal speakers through the crowd outside to the safety of our cars, which
was necessary. The decision on the number of officers present and the decision
to allow the MTR supporters to assemble directly in front of the entrance to
the Civic Center were poor ones, though. There needed to be more police on
hand to keep order. The impression, which I’m not sure is true, of the police’s
goal was to maintain safety by doing everything that they could to ensure that
the MTR supporters’ crowd kept from rioting (from where I stood it seemed like
they were really close to significant violence).

The placement of the crowd of MTR supporters was a serious mistake as well.
This crowd should have been kept away from the main entrance to the Civic
Center or there should have been another entrance opened up. The MTR supporters
definitely
have the right to protest, but their rally should have been kept at a respectful
distance from the entrance to the building. The reality that the response
to the threats of the MTR supporters’ crowd was to remove anti-MTR citizens
and
prevent them from participating in this event speaks to the fact that this
was not a “public” or “safe” event.

This is a serious issue on the protections of our right to free speech and
our right to safety. With the increasingly threatening and mob-like atmosphere
that surrounds the MTR Supporters’ crowd, the Police who we rely on to maintain
safety have to be ready in force to maintain safety.

From Chuck Nelson, Glen Daniel, West Virginia:

There were about ten of us, we were the last group leaving from inside. We
were waiting to give our comments when word was brought back in about what
was happening outside. As we talked with each of our group inside, things just
kept getting more crazy. We decided to leave then as a group, and proceeded
to make our departure.

Insults were hurled at us as we were leaving, with a bunch of thugs following.
Once in the lobby, I went directly to a Charleston city officer, and requested
an escort to our vehicles, with an angry group outside the doors. The officer
told me, that we should have known what was going to happen when we came
there. He did escort us to the front doors, and told Ben, as we were leaving, “You
are on your own.”

We made our way outside, only to be met with more insults — that followed
us practically all the way to our vehicles. We made calls on our phones, and
tried to make sure that everyone was all right.

I wondered where the state troopers were, not one was ever visible. I wonder,
how in the world can the Army Corps make a decision on an important permit,
when they can’t even conduct a proper, and peaceful hearing?

From Dana Kuhnline, Charleston, WV

I had to leave early and didn’t see any point in speaking anyway. I had
left my bag in my friend’s car, so he waited in the lobby while I dashed out
to the car, got my bag, and went to return the keys. He wasn’t at the door
when I got back and so I texted him; the police wouldn’t let me in to return
them. While I stood there waiting for him to return, the mob folk thought I
was trying to get into the hearing and were screaming and pulling at my bag.
They got a rousing chant of “Go Home!” started which was ironic,
because of course their antics were preventing me from doing so. The Police
officer wouldn’t let me inside to wait for my friend even though I was being
threatened, pushed and stepped on. When my friend came back and grabbed the
keys, the police officer said, “Do me a favor, for your own personal
safety, leave as soon as you can, don’t try to engage these people in conversation”

I was a little dumbfounded, but didn’t have the presence of mind to ask
for a police escort. So I turned to leave, and someone was stomping my feet
and
pushing me really hard so that I flew forward into a few miners. I turned
to see who it was and it was a lady holding a little baby! She had another
woman
as her back up and they were both screaming in my face, and trying to pick
a fight about why I would attack a little baby. I looked at her and said, “You
pushed me with your baby?” and walked away.

As I moved through the crowd, people deliberately blocked my path pushed me
and pulled on my bag. I made it through the main crowd and maybe 3-4 people
tried to get in a screaming match with me, but I did my best to ignore them.

From Charles Suggs, Rock Creek, WV

I knew that they weren’t letting anyone else into the hearing, so I stayed
on the edge of the crowd, keeping distance between myself and most people.

Three people, who have been calling for the abolition of mountaintop removal,
were backed up against the entrance doors by the mob crowd who was shouting
many things at them, including death threats. The three started to make their
way along the wall, moving left with the doors at their backs. Zoe Beavers
and a few others joined them.

I was still around the edge of the crowd, but noticed that things were heating
up by the wall to the side of the doors and started that way to see what exactly
was happening. A well dressed, plain-clothes officer then came up and told
me I had to leave for my safety and the safety of his officers.

Beavers was talking with a school teacher whose husband is a miner. The teacher
was yelling and getting the mob more riled up. An officer came over and ordered
Beavers to follow him well out of the crowd. He forbade her from re-entering
the crowd and said that she’d be arrested and booked for disturbing the peace
if she did. The most peaceful people in the crowd were threatened with arrest
for disturbing the peace.

Four more people opposed to mountaintop removal arrived after we were escorted
out by the police and were also subjected to insults and spitting. One person,
who was attempting to leave, was surrounded by shoulder-to-shoulder mountaintop
removal supporters who were shouting “You’re not getting out of here.” She
couldn’t get out until she yelled for a cop to get her out of there.

Only opponents of mountaintop removal were asked to leave who, despite the
shouting and aggression from the mob, remained quite peaceful. And they were
asked to leave for disturbing the peace. Some democratic, public hearing that
was.

From Vernon Haltom, Co-Director, Coal River Mountain Watch:

I went to the Charleston, WV, hearing hosted by the US Army Corps of Engineers,
but was unable to get in and give comments because the place was full. This
was after enduring a gauntlet of coal cult thugs hurling every insult imaginable
at me and the people who came with me to see and listen. Although a few other
people and I were in line and had filled out the registration forms to give
comments, the Charleston police made us go out of the building where we were
surrounded by more thugs pushing against us, threatening our lives, and again
hurling insults. Our group included an eighty-year-old woman enduring 300-pound
thugs screaming obscenities within three feet of her ears.

After 15 minutes or so of this shameful display, the Charleston police required
us to leave. Because it was easier to control a group of 6 or 7 peaceful people
than a mob of hundreds of violence prone thugs, and because the police did
not want any of us or the police to get hurt, they escorted us off the premises.

Essentially, police inability to control the mob resulted in our inability
to give verbal comments. While the building was full, we were prepared to enter
once a few people left, but the police removed us from our place in line and
removed us from the premises while the insult-hurlers were allowed to stay.

Our friends inside the hearing were able to give comments, but were drowned
out by the mob. When they complained to the hearing moderators, they were
told the clock was ticking. When they left, the police refused to escort
the last
small group to their vehicles, forcing them to run the gauntlet without protection.
The police said, “You all knew what you were getting into; you’re
on your own,” or a similar reply when asked for escort to cars.

The TV news channels didn’t show this side of the night, and no one
from the pro-mountain side appeared on TV. Instead, the TV news interviewed
coal supporters and implied there was no one from our side giving testimony.

From one of the hearings, news coverage showed one of the Corps of Engineers
people saying, essentially, “This is democracy working.” This
was not democracy working. It was a mob intimidating both the Charleston
police
and the US Army, as well as the peaceful citizens who came to give comments
to protect their homes, live, and communities.

These are scary times in Appalachia.

Mary Wildfire

The group of 750 angry miners and associated people roared with cheers and
applause after each of their speakers, often with standing ovations. If the
Army Corps wanted to allow that, I suppose it’s okay—but it certainly
contributed to the misapprehension on the part of many in the crowd that they
were at a rally. And in fact it was a rally, as the Corps people leading the “hearing” allowed
the crowd to scream abuse at each of the speakers on the other side, drowning
them out so that the recorder often threw up his hands, unable to hear.

The man in camo leading the “hearing” periodically said mildly, “Please
allow the gentleman/lady to speak,” but did not ask that the ones doing
the heckling be ejected, though Bill Price asked him to do so. Perhaps given
the size and temper of the crowd, it would have been a ticklish thing to attempt.
But the Corps people certainly could have said “if there are any more
interruptions, I’m going to shut down this hearing and reschedule it,” or “each
person gets three minutes. If there are interruptions, the clock stops. Now
if you want this hearing to end tonight, you will allow each speaker the courtesy
of their three minutes,” or something like that.

By the time I was called to speak I simply said that I had signed up to
speak under the illusion that it was to be a public hearing, but it was in
fact a
coal rally, and that I knew I would not be permitted to speak and obviously
the people in charge were fine with one side being silenced, so I wasn’t
going to try to speak.

This drew enthusiastic applause from the mob, happy to see the first person
on the other side stopped from even trying to speak.

When we got outside we caught up at that point with Maria Gunnoe who was
just ahead of us. At this point we asked the police there to please escort
us to
our cars, as a large group of men in Massey miners’ stripes began following
us. I was watching this behind me and did not see a man attack Maria, but turned
as I heard another policeman saying, “Touch her again and I’ll
take you right to jail.” The man was saying, “I never touched her!” as
we asked Maria if he had in fact touched her—she said yes, he had pushed
her. We continued walking rapidly toward our cars, talking about whose car
was where and how Maria would get safely home. She confirmed that she was
driving alone which worried me, given the intense animosity toward her of
many in the
crowd…

I commented on what it must be like for those who live in the coalfields,
not only to be surrounded by these people all the time, but to go “home” to
a place with the sound of blasting and the lights of the dragline as a constant
reminder that it isn’t really home in any meaningful sense. Maria’s
family has been there many generations, I guess that’s why she stays—I
could not endure all she has. I was very stressed last night and still felt
extremely tense this morning.

Bottom line: the Army Corps of Engineers did not hold a public hearing in
Charleston


Oct 13th and 15th, 2009: Mark your calendars for very important MTR hearings

It’s important that we get a good crowd out to show support for the Army Corps’ decision to stop issuing rubber stamp permits called “Nationwide Permits” — and to let them know that a lot more is needed to protect our communities from the devastating impacts of mountaintop removal.

Before a company can start a removing a mountain and dumping it into nearby valleys, there is supposed to be a rigorous permitting process to ensure that they will use good science, operate within the law and not harm nearby communities. Unfortunately, about one-third of mountaintop removal coal mining projects are approved under “nationwide permits.” These permits are designed for projects with “minimal impact” –but burying miles of streams under millions of tons of rubble is hardly “minimal impact.” During the Bush Administration, the Army Corps regularly granted nationwide permits for valley fills, even after federal judges found that the practice was illegal.

Ending Nationwide Permits will allow citizens to have more voice on mountaintop removal permits in their community–and it will require more scrutiny from government agencies to make sure permits are following the law and using good science. It will slow down mountaintop removal — but it won’t stop it.

The Army Corps has made a great step towards protecting Appalachian communities with better permitting and oversight of mountaintop removal — but it’s only the first step — we need to end mountaintop removal and valley fills all together.

The coal industry will try to cry out that they are being regulated to death — but that’s just not true. This change would protect our communities from outlaw mining practices and give us a better chance for future economic prosperity.

How can I help? Please join us at one of these hearings; there will be carpools planned if you need help getting there.:

All hearings will start at 7:00 P.M, with registration starting at 6:00 P.M.


October 13, 2009, in Charleston, West Virginia


Charleston Civic Center, Little Theatre

200 Civic Center Drive

Charleston, WV 25301


October 13, 2009, in Pikeville, Kentucky


East Kentucky Expo Center

126 Main St

Pikeville, KY 41501-1144

Carpool info: kevin [at] kftc.org

October 13, 2009, in Knoxville, Tennessee

Knoxville Convention Center

701 Henley St.

Knoxville, TN 37902-2914

Carpool info: unitedmountaindefense [at] yahoo.com

(Facebook Event)

October 15, 2009, in Cambridge, Ohio

Pritchard Laughlin Civic Center

7033 Glenn Hwy.

Cambridge, OH 43725

October 15, 2009, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

David L. Lawrence Convention Center

1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd

Pittsburgh, PA 15222

October 15, 2009, in Big Stone Gap, Virginia

Big Stone Gap Mountain Empire Community College

3441 Mountain Empire Road

Big Stone Gap, VA 24219

Can’t travel?

Written comments will be accepted through Oct. 26, 2009 to supplement the hearing records. Written comments may be submitted at the public hearings or at the federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov under docket number COE-2009-0032; or mailed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Attn: CECW-CO (Attn: Ms. Desiree Hann), 441 G. Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20314. Email or faxed comments will not be accepted.


October 8-12, 2009: Senior Citizens Walk to End MTR

Where: State Capitol Building in Charleston, WV to Massey Energy’s Mammoth Coal mountain top removal site in Kanawha County, WV.

When: Thursday October 8 to Monday October 12.

Why: To end mountaintop removal.

ABOUT

The Senior Citizen’s Walk to End Mountaintop Removal will traverse 25 miles from Charleston to the Mammoth Coal mountain top removal site, which is owned by Massey Energy.

The march will begin on the morning of October 8 on the steps of the state capitol building in Charleston, WV. Each day, the marchers will walk between 4 and 6 miles. The march will culminate at the entrance to the Mammoth Coal mine site, where all those who choose to will engage in an act of peaceful civil disobedience

Food will be provided en route.

To learn more or register visit www.climategroundzero.org


September 22, 2009: Urgent Action: Tell the EPA to stop valley fill permits permanently!

You have pushed the EPA to take real steps against mountaintop removal. Friday, September 11, the EPA decided that of all 79 mountaintop removal permits they were reviewing, none of them should be approved in their current form!

This temporary stay of execution is a historic step: the biggest any agency has ever taken to end the devastating practice of mountaintop removal. We have achieved it thanks to the years of organizing and outcry from you and tens of thousands of allies across the country.

But now is a crucial time to make sure that this temporary reprieve becomes a permanent change. While the EPA regional offices review the permits in their area, the EPA has opened a 14-day comment period.

Please take a moment to thank the EPA for this important step and ask them to stop all permitting of valley fills?
You can submit official comments at ilovemountains.org.

Comments are needed by the end of this week!

You can find a sample letter below — feel free to borrow talking points, and to add your own personal comments for a greater impact.

(sample letter provided by Coal River Mountain Watch)

SAMPLE LETTER:

Thank you for doing the right thing so far by holding all 79 mountaintop removal valley fill permit applications for further review with the Army Corps and providing science-based oversight which will limit the devastating environmental impacts of mountaintop removal mining. I encourage the EPA to use its veto authority to stop all permitting of valley fills associated with strip mining in Appalachia.

According to the EPA’s own scientific studies, there are many problems associated with valley fills, which have already buried and polluted nearly 2,000 miles of streams across Appalachia. Randy Pomponio, Director of the EPA’s Environmental Assessment and Innovation Division in the Mid-Atlantic Region 3, recently testified to the United States Senate Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife about the negative impacts that mountaintop removal and valley fills have on water quality. He described high selenium levels and deformities in fish downstream from mountaintop removal sites. Margaret Palmer, an environmental scientist for over 25 years, also testified that stream “restoration” efforts by mine sites completely fail to even approximate the qualities and function of the original streams.

Given the significant impact of federal actions on mountaintop removal mining, I urge you to closely evaluate the NEPA process to ensure that all major federal actions undergo an EIS with significant citizen input. Already countless coalfield residents have documented the devastating social, health, environmental, and economic effects of mountaintop removal. Until these concerns are thoroughly studied, and cumulative impacts are taken into consideration, no mountaintop removal permit applications should go forward. I urge you, if need be, to you to use your veto power to stop future permits from destroying any more mountains, waterways, and communities.


3 Rivers Climate Convergence, Sep. 20 – 25, Pittsburgh

This September the fossil fuel industry and their political supporters are descending on Pittsburgh to put a green face on global capitalism.  These meetings amongst the world superpowers whose failed policies are responsible for the global economic, environmental and human rights crises, will be met by global citizens who know we need to do things differently.  We’ll stick our necks out to demand real, localized and community-based solutions that come from the 6 billion people of the earth, not 20 heads of state.

The Three Rivers Climate Convergence will be held September 20-25th in Schenley Park, located in the heart of Oakland, Pittsburgh’s student neighborhood. The convergence will gather together people united for environmental justice to share knowledge, attend workshops, plan actions and demonstrations in response to the International Coal Conference and G20 Summit and live sustainably in the shadows of a 21st century city. At this time, the encampment is not permitted by the city.

During the week of the International Coal Conference and G20 Summit, groups representing countless issues will arrive in Pittsburgh with their own definitions of resistance.The Pittsburgh Principles urge every movement present at this mobilization to respect the space and tactics of other groups. www.resistg20.org/principles.

Check out our website @ www.3riversconvergence.org.

To sign up, please fill out this form .
To facilitate a workshop or activity, please fill out this form .


September 9, 2009: Four Protesters, ages 22 to 81, and Journalist Arrested at Blockade of Massey Energy Regional Headquarters

Four protesters blocking the road to Massey Energy’s Regional Headquarters in Boone County and a journalist covering the event were
arrested this morning. The protesters are charged with trespass, conspiracy, destruction of property, disobeying a lawful order and resisting arrest. Roland Micklem, 81, James McGuinness, 53, Joseph Hamsher, 22, and Fred Williamson, 75, comprised the human roadblock. The journalist, Gianni Lapis, is charged with trespass, failure to obey a lawful command, and conspiracy.

“All four have pledged to not participate in property destruction—these are likely just trumped up charges,” Charles Suggs of Climate Ground Zero said.

The four men used plastic pipes and chain to lock themselves together and to a guardrail and light post, shutting down the road to the headquarters for early morning traffic. State troopers and Boone County Sheriffs were on the scene soon after the lockdown and bolt cutters arrived shortly thereafter. Police cut the chains binding the men to the guardrail and light post and dragged them to the side of the road by the pipes that still locked their arms together.

Eyewitness Ivan Stiefel also reported that two of the three drivers-by who stopped to ask questions were supportive of the protesters. “One fellow was a deep miner passing through on his way to Charleston and broke down on the road,” Stiefel said. “He went to the cops to ask to use their phone to call a cab and was told to leave or he’d be arrested for trespassing. So he walked over to us and asked if it was a strike.

“I said it was a protest against Massey and mountaintop removal. He said he was a deep miner and hoped we didn’t hold that against him, but he didn’t like mountaintop removal. We said it was mountaintop removal and Massey’s horrible business practices we were protesting. Then we talked a while and called him a cab.”

Stiefel and other bystanders were asked to leave before the team was taken from the scene.

“I am exercising a spiritual obligation as a steward of Creation. It was not God’s intent that these mountains be destroyed to enhance the wealth of a few individuals,” said Micklem. “This should not be solely a young person’s campaign. Now that they have provided the example and inspiration, we seniors need to make a statement with our own actions and share the risks that are part of this ongoing effort to stop the obliteration of West Virginia’s mountains.”

Micklem is organizing a 25-mile senior citizen’s march set to begin in Charleston on Oct. 5. All four protesters are being held on $5,000 bail each, while the journalist is held on $3,000.


Original press release from the morning of 9/9

JULIAN, W.Va. Four concerned citizens are locked arm-to-arm across the road to Massey Energy’s regional headquarters off of Corridor-G in Boone County, W.Va. The four men, ranging in age from 22 to 81 years, are halting all traffic coming into the corporate office in an act of protest against Massey Energy and their use of mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining.

The signs read “Stop MTR,” “Stop Blowing up America,” “Protect God’s Creation,” and “People Over Profit.” The protesters insist that Massey pay damages and health care costs to people who live within a one-mile radius of Massey MTR sites, that the federal government ban MTR immediately, and that a full investigation is conducted into Massey’s business, labor, and environmental practices.

“I am exercising a spiritual obligation as a steward of Creation. It was not God’s intent that these mountains be destroyed to enhance the wealth of a few individuals,” said Roland Micklem, 81. “This should not be solely a young person’s campaign. Now that they have provided the example and inspiration, we seniors need to make a statement with our own actions and share the risks that are part of this ongoing effort to stop the obliteration of West Virginia’s mountains.”

Alongside Micklem are James McGuinness, 53, Joseph Hamsher, 22, and Fred Williamson, 75.

This protest follows on the heels of the week-long tree occupation that stopped blasting above Pettry Bottom for a week and the Massey-sponsored Friends of America event, at which Massey Energy Chief Executive Officer Don Blankenship, conservative celebrities Ted Nugent, Sean Hannity and others, painted climate change as conspiracy, pointed the finger at “environmental extremists,” and called for a new conservative extremist movement.

“There were many true ‘friends of America’ at their Labor Day rally, but not a single one could be found on stage,” said Andrew Munn of Climate Ground Zero. “‘Friends of America’ are people who strive to make our land and lives better through their work, including those who commit acts of non-violent civil disobedience for the common good. Don Blankenship and men of his ilk are the fiends of America who profit from the violation of our rights of organized labor, clean air, clean water, health and the pursuit of happiness. Mountaintop removal and Massey Energy violate all of those rights, and we intend to take them back,” Munn said.

Massey Energy has paid the largest fines for environmental and worker safety violations of any coal company in the United States. In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency fined Massey $20 million for 4,500 violations of the Clean Water Act. In the same year, the Mine Safety and Health Administration fined Massey $2.5 million for the death of two workers and 1,300 safety violations in two of their underground mines. In the first quarter of 2009, Massey revenue increased 25 percent. Yet, Blankenship announced an average six percent cut in worker’s wages and benefits to investors in the same quarter.

Micklem, a military veteran, is organizing a 25-mile senior citizen’s march against mountaintop removal for early October.

For more information on the march call Climate Ground Zero at 304-854-7372.

Pictures and updates available at www.climategroundzero.org


Elderly couple’s home destroyed by MTR boulder – Your help needed to pressure company for fair settlement!

About a year ago an elderly Floyd County couple, both deaf and living on a fixed income, were approached by a coal company offering money to strip
mine their mountainside.

They refused, but on Friday, Aug 28th a massive boulder crashed from the Frasure Creek Mining strip job on Caney Fork and into the bedroom of Billy
and Eileen Tussy. Thankfully, they weren’t home at the time.

The federal Office of Surface Mining responded and determined the boulder was caused by blasting at the Frasure Creek job. The operation was stopped
pending an investigation and “mediation”. The Tussys and three other families were evacuated to motels.

On Friday, the family met with Floyd County Kentuckians for the Commonwealth members, Appalachian Citizens Law Center attorney Mary Cromer and
representatives of Austin Powder Company, the subcontractor for Frasure Creek Mining, who set the blast.

The Tussys do not want to return to their property for fear of more boulders. They hope to put a new mobile home near relatives elsewhere.
The company representatives made no offer but will meet with the family again Wednesday. When asked if the company plans to apologize to the
family, Austin Powder Company Corporate Risk Manager, Constantine Toscidis responded “we don’t really go there”.

All the Tussys want is a safe and modest home near family and friends, which is exactly what they had before Frasure Creek Mining became their
neighbor. KFTC is starting a campaign to pressure Austin Powder to deal fairly with the Tussy family (check the KFTC.org blog for updates and photos).

Here’s how you can help, but remember we only have Tuesday to pressure the company for a fair settlement:

  • Call Austin Powder Company’s Chairman of the Board, William Davis (216) 464-2400 and urge that he replaces the Tussy family’s home and offers an apology.
  • Or send a quick note via fax to William Davis at (216) 464-4418
  • Or go to http://www.austinpowder.com/contact/index.html and email Mr Davis