Dustin White, an organizer from Boone County, West Virginia, discusses recent actions targeting the EPA’s failure to address the grave impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining on rural communities. 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.
Tag Archives: west virginia
KPFK Sojourner Truth Earth Watch: Dustin White on the struggle to stop mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia
January 22 2013. Source: RAMPS
Seven protesters affiliated with the RAMPS campaign (Radical Action for Mountain Peoples’ Survival), MORE(Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment) and Mountain Justice are locked down to a 500-pound small potted tree in Arch Coal’s third-floor headquarters while a larger group is in the lobby performing a song and dance. Additionally, a helium balloon banner with the message “John Eaves Your Coal Company Kills”, directed at the Arch Coal CEO was released in at the Arch Coal headquarters.
“We’re here to halt Arch’s operations for as long as we can. These coal corporations do not answer to communities, they only consume them. We’re here to resist their unchecked power,” explained Margaret Fetzer, one of the protestors.
Arch Coal, the second largest coal company in the U.S., operates strip mines in Appalachia and in other U.S. coal basins. Strip mining is an acutely destructive and toxic method of mining coal, and resource extraction disproportionately impacts marginalized communities. Continue reading
By Vicki Smith, November 15 2012. Source: Associated Press
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Bankrupt Patriot Coal Corp. agreed Thursday to become the first U.S. coal operator to phase out and eventually stop all large-scale mountaintop removal mining in central Appalachia under an agreement reached with three environmental groups that sued over pollution from several West Virginia operations.
St. Louis-based Patriot said the proposed agreement allows it to postpone as much as $27 million in expenses into 2014 and beyond, improving its liquidity and the likelihood it can successfully emerge from Chapter 11 protection as a viable business.
The deal comes as Patriot tackles litigation that must be resolved during those proceedings. The terms would be binding on any subsidiaries it sells or spins off.
Presented to U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers in Huntington for consideration, the agreement stemmed from water pollution lawsuits filed by the Sierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. Continue reading
By Dave Cooper, September 11, 2012. Source: Mountaintop Removal Road Show
An American hero has passed away. Larry Gibson, the “Mountain Keeper” from West Virginia who fought to save his family’s ancestral land on top of Kayford Mountain for over 25 years died of a heart attack on Sunday on his beloved mountain. A public memorial service will be announced at a later date on Larry’s Keeper of the Mountains Foundation website. Please visit the site and make a donation in memory of Larry.
When I first met Larry in March, 1998 I wasn’t too sure what to think of him. But we hit it off, and he ended up changing my life. I visited Larry’s mountain shortly after hearing him speak at a Kentucky Sierra Club meeting, and Im still working on the mountaintop removal issue 14 years later. He changed many other lives, too.
I wanted to write something to you all because I knew that many people across the country still may have not heard the news about Larry – and I’ve struggled about what to write.
Larry was such an inspiring, complex, awesome, dogged and determined person that writing a proper tribute to him is really difficult. So I’ve decided to just let Larry’s words speak for him.
I called Larry’s answering machine today, and it was good to hear his voice one last time: Continue reading
Gibson, 65, stands five feet tall. He is wearing a straw hat and overalls, has a moustache, and usually walks his property with a loaded Glock .45 pistol. He left his pistol today in his tiny cabin, where he gets his electricity from solar panels and a generator. We are headed down a dirt road with his lumbering, twelve-year-old black dog whose name, Gibson tells us, is “very complex. His name is Dog.” Loss of habitat has driven the remaining wildlife, including bears and wild boars, onto his property: “When I was a boy you didn’t see bears. You might see a paw print, but the coal companies done drove the bears in on us.” Larry Gibson was born on the mountain and spent his boyhood there.
There were once 60 families clustered around the mountain, along with a small general store and a church. Gibson’s father was a coal miner who had his leg shattered in 1956 in a mine collapse. The coal company did not pay any benefits. The bills piled up. The family sold its furniture. The house was seized, and for a few months Larry and his parents camped out under a willow tree. Gibson remembers that as a young boy he came upon his father during this time, a man who always seemed to him a tower of strength, sobbing.
Mountaintop removal Action Alert and Video: half the Hobet 20 free from jail, demand justice for remaining 10
August 3, 2012. Source: RAMPS
Great news from the Lincoln County Court today. Half of our arrestees had their bail reduction hearings today. Instead of reducing their bails, the court offered a plea deal. In exchange for pleading guilty to the trespassing charge only, our activists were offered a $500 fine and 1 years probation. Nine arrestees have accepted the deal and will be released today. The other protester assigned that magistrate is Dustin Steele, who is free and has not taken the deal. What a relief and victory for all who have supported the Hobet 20.
This isn’t over however. The remaining 10 prisoners have a different magistrate and their hearing isn’t until Tuesday the 7th. There is no guarantee they will be offered the same deal or in fact any deal at all. We must keep the pressure on and continue to support our brothers and sisters in jail.
We are also still committed to holding the state and the police accountable for their actions on Saturday. We are asking the US Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia and the WV Attorney General to open an investigation immediately.
Below is a brand new video documenting many of our allegations. Watch it. Dustin is meeting with their lawyers today to discuss filing a formal complaint over the injuries they received from the State Police.
Source: RAMPS (Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival)
Twenty people were arrested and are currently jailed in West Virginia for a courageous act of non-violent civil disobedience against mountaintop removal mining last weekend. These folks are currently under a bond of $25,000 per person, and this excessively high bond means that the protestors cannot be released until the funds are raised to bail them out. We do not have anything close to this amount of money, so we need your help.
Please donate to help raise bail for these activists http://bit.ly/mj-legal
Last week, as part of a massive “Mountain Mobilization” organized by RAMPS – Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival, folks walked onto Patriot Coal’s Hobet mountaintop removal mine as a non-violent protest against this form of coal mining, where coal companies blast the tops off the Appalachian Mountains, destroying the forests and every living thing on the mountain. Over 500 mountains in Appalachia have already been flattened by this form of mining. Coal companies dump enormous amounts of mining waste rock and debris into precious headwater mountain streams in mountaintop removal, and the landscape is permanently altered.
Burning coal is the largest source of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and carbon dioxide is the leading contributor to global warming.
Cross posted from Climate Ground Zero
Activists Block Entrance to DEP Headquarters, Condemn Failed Enforcement
CHARLESTON, W.V. — Protestors associated with Climate Ground Zero blocked
the entrance to the headquarters of the West Virginia Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP) today. Joe Hamsher, 23, and Sarah Seeds,
60, are chained to a concrete-filled metal barrel that is blocking the
entrance to the parking lot of the DEP office complex in Charleston. The
activists painted the following statement on the barrel: “Department of
Easy Permits: Closed.”
The human rights activists staged the sit-in in order to bring attention
to what they believe is the DEP’s failure to enforce the Clean Water Act
by permitting mountaintop removal mining in West Virginia.
“The DEP is taking part in sins of permission,” said Seeds. “Permitting
mountaintop removal is permitting the poisoning of this bioregion.”
The protestors specifically sought to shed light on the DEP’s new
permitting guidance for implementing water quality standards in the
coalfields, which it announced earlier this month. The new permitting
guidance, the protestors said, is meant to circumvent the federal
Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) much stricter water quality
standards, thus paving the way for continued pollution of West Virginia’s
waterways by coal operators.
“There is no way to operate a mountaintop removal mine without violating
the Clean Water Act. Even Don Blankenship admitted that in Charleston when
he debated Robert Kennedy” said West Virginia native Joe Hamsher. “The DEP
ought to step up and do their job by enforcing the Clean Water Act. But
instead, Randy Huffman, and his boss Joe Manchin, try to find loopholes
According to the Charleston Gazette in an article published on August 12,
the DEP’s new permitting guidance is a direct response to the EPA’s
decision in April to more strictly regulate the amount of chlorides,
sulfides and heavy metals that coal operators are allowed to dump in West
Virginia’s streams and rivers.
Upon announcing the new guidelines, DEP secretary Randy Huffman called on
the EPA to give deference to its new policy. “We trust the EPA will give
deference to West Virginia’s guidance document, as it was created to
satisfy outlines in the Clean Water Act,” Huffman said.
On August 13, however, the EPA responded to the DEP in a public statement
that reaffirmed the federal agency’s regulatory authority over the DEP and
promised a review of the DEP’s new permitting guidance.
“We look forward to reviewing West Virginia’s new water quality guidance,”
wrote the EPA. “In the meantime, the EPA’s guidance stands and we will
continue to use it to ensure that mining permits issued in West Virginia
and other Appalachian states provide the protection required under federal
Meanwhile, activists with Climate Ground Zero say they will continue to do
everything they can to hold accountable the government agencies that
permit mountaintop removal mining.
“DEP will be held accountable for its crimes against West Virginia,” said
In addition to putting pressure on the DEP, Climate Ground Zero and its
allies will be gathering in Washington D.C. on September 25 through
September 27 for Appalachia Rising, a mass mobilization to call for an end
to mountaintop removal mining and bring the issue to the national stage.