Category Archives: Mountaintop Removal

Recent developments in the fight against mountaintop removal, Maria Gunnoe letter to Obama

Maria Gunnoe and mountaintop removal via EcoWatch

Maria Gunnoe and mountaintop removal via EcoWatch

On Friday, Jeff Biggers for EcoWatch reported on a federal judge ruling that the US Army Corps of Engineers does not have to consider studies on the health impacts of mountaintop removal when issuing permits.

Biggers notes that this comes just a couple of weeks after Maria Gunnoe, an organizer for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, sent a letter to Obama urging him to renew funding for exactly such studies that were being conducted by the USGS, until funding was withdrawn last year.

Gunnoe Appeals to President … Judge Dismisses Health Studies on Mountaintop Removal
By Jeff Biggers, EcoWatch. August 22, 2014.

In a breathtaking but largely overlooked ruling this week, a federal judge agreed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may disregard studies on the health impacts of mountaintop removal mining in its permitting process, only two weeks after Goldman Prize Award-winning activist Maria Gunnoe wrote an impassioned plea to President Obama to renew withdrawn funding for U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research on strip mining operations and redouble federal action to address the decades-old humanitarian disaster.

Read the whole article and Maria Gunnoe’s letter here.

Find out more about Maria Gunnoe and the New Voice’s Speakers Bureau on GJEP’s website.

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Filed under Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Mountaintop Removal, Pollution

BREAKING: Activists blocking Bristol offices of Alpha Natural Resources

June 20, 2014. Source: Mountain Justice

Photo from Mountain Justice

Photo from Mountain Justice

Three activists demanding an end to mountaintop removal, block entrance to corporate office, stop business as usual.

Three activists with Mountain Justice and Radical Action for Mountains and People’s Survival (RAMPS) are currently stopping business as usual at Alpha Natural Resources headquarters in Bristol, VA, in protest of Alpha’s devastating practices of mountaintop removal coal mining. Activists were protesting the opening of new mines on Coal River Mountain in southern West Virginia. Two protestors are locked in front of the front doors of the office, while a third is hanging from a flag pole displaying a banner that reads “Save Coal River Mountain”

“That mountain is the mountain I learned to hunt on, it’s the mountain that’s sustained my family for generations.  I’ll be a dead man before I see them take what’s left up there,” said Junior Walk, of West Virginia. Walk lives in the Coal River Valley, directly below Alpha operations on Coal River Mountain. Alpha recently began blasting on the 264 acre Collins Fork mine.  Local residents and activists have opposed surface mining on Coal River Mountain since the late 1990s. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, BREAKING NEWS, Mountaintop Removal

World’s biggest coal company, world’s biggest PR firm pair up to promote coal for poor people

Note: Looks like Peabody coal is taking this one right out of the UN’s “Sustainable Energy For All” playbook.  Pushing for more coal plants under the guise of reducing “energy poverty.”

-The GJEP Team

By Kate Sheppard, March 27, 2014. Source: Huffington Post

Photo: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Photo: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Peabody Energy Corp., the world’s largest private-sector coal company, launched a public relations and advertising campaign last month extolling the virtues of coal energy for poor people.

A Peabody press release announcing the campaign, called Advanced Energy for Life, argues that lack of access to energy is “the world’s number one human and environmental crisis.”

To enter the campaign website, readers encounter a drop-in screen that asks them to agree or disagree with the statement, “Access to low-cost energy improves our lives.” The site notes that there are 3.5 billion people in the world “without adequate energy” — 1.2 billion of them children. A video titled “Energy Poverty” features babies and small children, with text that implores, “We can solve this crisis.” It adds: “Affordable energy leads to better health.”

Peabody’s proposal to solve this crisis? Asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop setting pollution limits on coal-fired power plants. Those pollution rules are meant to address climate change caused by greenhouse-gas emissions, a global problem that has the greatest effect on poor countries. Burning coal generates carbon emissions as well as hazardous pollutants such as mercury, lead, and benzene, according to the American Lung Association.
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Filed under Coal, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Mountaintop Removal, Pollution, World Bank

Duke Energy shareholders want probe of coal ash spill

By Michael Biesecker and Mitch Weiss, March 27, 2014. Source: Citizen-Times

Photo: Rick Dove, AP

Photo: Rick Dove, AP

Duke Energy shareholders called on the company’s board on Thursday to launch an independent investigation into issues surrounding a massive coal ash spill that coated 70 miles of a North Carolina river in toxic sludge.

A letter sent to Duke’s board of directors by a coalition of more than 20 large institutional investors says their confidence has been shaken by the Feb. 2 spill into the Dan River. The letter also expresses concern about an ongoing federal criminal probe and what the investors characterize as the company’s inadequate response to the environmental disaster.

The letter comes as North Carolina’s environmental agency was forced to admit state inspectors twice missed a large crack in an earthen dike holding back millions of tons of ash at a different Duke facility near the Cape Fear River.

Federal prosecutors have issued at least 23 subpoenas as part of a grand jury investigation into the spill and whether the company has received preferential treatment from state officials. Gov. Pat McCrory worked at Duke for more than 28 years, and the company and its executives have been generous political supporters of his campaign and Republican groups that support him.
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Filed under Coal, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Mountaintop Removal, Pollution, Water

How the coal industry impoverishes West Virginia

By Omar Ghabra, January 24, 2014. Source: The Nation

A US flag flies at half-staff at a coal processing plant near the site of a disaster that killed twelve miners in Buckhannon, West Viriginia. Photo: Reuters/Jim Young

A US flag flies at half-staff at a coal processing plant near the site of a disaster that killed twelve miners in Buckhannon, West Viriginia. Photo: Reuters/Jim Young

There’s a joke circulating among Syrians who fled the brutal conflict devastating their country to the quiet mountains of West Virginia: “We escaped the lethal chemicals in Syria only for them to follow us here.” Of course, what’s happening in West Virginia right now is no laughing matter. But how could the refugees not be reminded of their decimated homeland after finding themselves, along with 300,000 other West Virginians, without access to potable water? Unfortunately, West Virginia is no stranger to having its living conditions compared to those in developing countries.

Fifty years ago, Michael Harrington authored his incisive depiction of poverty in the United States, aptly titled The Other America. The bestselling book—named one of the ten most influential books of the twentieth century by Time—is widely believed to have inspired John F. Kennedy’s commitment to addressing the dire conditions of the “invisible poor,” whom Harrington noted generally lived in rural or inner-city isolation, making them easier to ignore. After Kennedy’s assassination, this commitment was passed on to his successor, culminating in Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of an “unconditional war on poverty.”

West Virginia’s problems figured prominently in Harrington’s narrative. In one evocative passage, he describes the paradox of the state’s beauty and its grave socioeconomic conditions.“Driving through this area, particularly in the spring or the fall, one perceives the loveliness, the openness, the high hills, streams, and lush growth.” However, “beauty can be a mask for ugliness,” and “this is what happens in the Appalachians.”

This ugliness masked by supreme natural beauty has not disappeared in the fifty years since Harrington wrote these words. As a lifelong West Virginian who was raised among the southern coalfields of this state, I’ve witnessed firsthand the misery that permeates life here. “This irony is deep,” Harrington writes, “for everything that turns the landscape into an idyll for the urban traveler conspires to hold the people down. They suffer terribly at the hands of this beauty.” The suffering has largely come at the hands of the coal industry, which for the past century has purchased the blind loyalty of the state’s most influential institutions as it exploited the population for labor in criminally dangerous conditions, all while destroying the pristine grandeur of the environment to extract the abundant coal below the surface.
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Filed under Coal, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Mining, Mountaintop Removal, Pollution, Water

KPFK Earth Watch: Hundreds of thousands hit by water crisis in wake of West Virginia chemical spill

kpfk_logoJohanna de Graffenreid from the Citizen Action for Real Enforcement Campaign in West Virginia discusses the fallout of the January 9th chemical spill which left over 300,000 people without water, and the history of lax regulatory enforcement of extractive industries in WV.

Global Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.

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Filed under Coal, Earth Radio, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, KPFK, Mining, Mountaintop Removal, Pollution, Water

BREAKING: Over a thousand Rising Tiders, Powershifters, and supporters leave permitted march route to support direct action in Pittsburgh

21 October, 2013. Source: Shadbush Environmental Justice Collective

DSC_0161At around 12:30pm, 10 protesters began a sit-in at the Allegheny County Courthouse, blocking the main hallway in County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s office suite. The protesters called on Fitzgerald to drop plans to open up Allegheny County Parks for fracking.  The County Executive’s office is currently reviewing proposals from natural gas drilling companies to lease the oil and gas rights under Deer Lakes Park for fracking.

The sit-in is part of a day of action against dirty energy to culminate the Power Shift conference.  Over a thousand supporters from Power Shift participated in an un-permitted march to the County Courthouse to support the sit-in, following a rally on the North Shore’s Allegheny Landing earlier this morning.  The marchers arrived shortly after the sit-in began and filled the courthouse courtyard, with dozens joining the occupation of the County Executive’s office.  No one was arrested.

“Fitzgerald is trying to cut a deal with the natural gas industry without seeking formal input from the residents of Allegheny County on this issue. There is no public participation process, so we have to create it and that’s what we’re doing today with this sit-in. We are bringing our message straight to Fitzgerald that the residents of Allegheny County do not want fracking in our parks.” said Ben Fiorillo of O’hara Township. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Hydrofracking, Mining, Mountaintop Removal, Youth

Tahltan First Nation activists serve Fortune Minerals with eviction notice

By John Ahni Schertow, August 16, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry

Protest over coal mine at Mt. Klappan.  Photo: Skeena Watershed Coalition

Protest over coal mine at Mt. Klappan. Photo: Skeena Watershed Coalition

On Wednesday night, citizens of the Tahltan Nation served Fortune Minerals Limited with a “24-hour eviction notice” informing the company that it must vacate the Tahltan’s unceded traditional territory. Although the 24-hour deadline has now passed, the Tahltan activists say they have no intention of backing down.

The action was a direct response to Fortune Mineral’s infringement on a hunting camp located near the site where the company has set up a small camp of its own. As reported by Allison Bench of CFTK TV, the hunters complained that a helicopter was scaring away all the animals. The activists, who identified themselves as members of the “Klabona Keepers” Elders Society, decided that enough was enough.

According to the Tahltan Central Council, which is the governing body of the Iskut First Nation and the Tahltan First Nation, the activists may now set up a blockade against the company’s air travel in and out of the area, where Fortune Minerals has been conducting exploratory work for its Arctos Anthracite Coal Project (formerly known as Mount Klappan Anthracite Metallurgical Coal Project).

A controversial project to say the least, Fortune Minerals and its partner POSCO Canada Limited (a subsidiary of South Korea’s POSCO), wants to dismantle Mount Klappan, replacing it with a massive open pit coal mine that would impact more than 4,000 hectares of pristine wilderness in the Sacred Headwaters.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Coal, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Mining, Mountaintop Removal