14 People Arrested Protesting Mountaintop Removal Mining in West Virginia
By Jessica Lee
MountainAction.org is reporting that 14 people were arrested June 18 in a peaceful act of direct action on a Massey Energy Co. mountaintop removal mining site near Twilight, W. Va.
Four activists, in a daring act, scaled a 20-story tall piece of mining equipment to unfurl a 15 x 150 foot banner that said, “Stop Mountaintop Removal Mining.” The climbers were on the enormous dragline, a massive piece of equipment that removes house-sized chunks of blasted rock and earth to expose coal, and remained there for more than three hours. The climbers were equipped with satellite phones and web cameras. Meanwhile nine others deployed a 20 x 40 foot banner on the ground at the site which read, “Stop Mountaintop Removal: Clean Energy Now.”
“I’ve written letters, attended hearings and called my congressman, so far they have done nothing to stop the disastrous and unnecessary practice of mountaintop removal,” said Charles Suggs, a 25-year old of Rock Creek, W. Va., who was arrested and quoted in a MountainAction.org press release. “It has come to the point when we must take direct action to abolish this practice that is immorally robbing Appalachian communities of their culture, their health and their future.”In mid-June, the Obama administration approved 42 out of the 48 mining permits cleared by the Environmental Protection Agency in May. Activists say that the June 18 protest draws attention to the reality that over 3.5 million pounds of ammonium nitrate/fuel oil explosives are being detonated daily in mountaintop removal operations across the West Virginia mountains alone, while hundreds of mountaintop removal permits now stand ready to be reviewed and cleared.
Author Jeff Biggers reported June 18 on Huffington Post:
“The action launches a dramatic weeklong series of protests at mountaintop removal sites in the West Virginia coalfields that will culminate on June 23rd with a special action in the Coal River Valley area with local coalfield residents, NASA climate scientist James Hansen, actress Daryl Hannah, and 94-year-old former US Representative Ken Hechler, and Rainforest Action Network executive director Michael Brune, among many others.”
“It’s way past time for civil disobedience to stop mountaintop removal and move quickly toward clean, renewable energy sources,” said Judy Bonds, Goldman Environmental Prize winner and co-director of Coal River Mountain Watch of West Virginia. “For over a century, Appalachian communities have been crushed, flooded, and poisoned as a result of the country’s dangerous and outdated reliance on coal. How could the country care so little about our American mountains, our culture and our lives?”
For more information and past coverage in The Indypendent:
The Indypendent, June 6: “Operation Appalachian Spring”
The Indypendent, June 6: “Moving Mountains With Theatre”