RAMPS Media: Pro-Mountain Activists Board Coal Barge & Blockade Kayford Strip Mine Haul Road

Pro-mountain activists board coal barge and blockade Kayford strip mine
haul road

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Contact: Robert Livingston 304.731.1740
http://action.mountainjustice.org

KAYFORD, W.Va. –Mountain Justice and RAMPS activists blocked coal 
transport in two locations Thursday morning. Five boarded a barge 
on the Kanawha River near Chelyan, with a large banner that
read “Coal leaves, cancer stays,” and locked their bodies to the barge. At
the same time, dozens of concerned citizens obstructed access to the haul
road on Kayford Mountain, stopping coal trucks from entering or
leaving the Republic Energy mine.

“These actions against coal transport were taken because the viability and
health of mountain communities are being destroyed by mountaintop
removal—the coal and the profits are shipped away, leaving disease and
destruction in their wake,” Rebecca Loeb, one of the people on the barge
said.

According to Nathan Joseph, another activist on the barge, the struggle
against mountaintop removal in Appalachia is linked to the struggles of
other fossil fuel extraction communities across North America and the world.

“The coal industry's continued disregard for the well-being of Appalachian
communities is connected to the struggles of other North American
extraction communities. Strip mining tar sands for
low-quality oil, fracking for dirty gas and deep sea oil drilling are signs we are scraping the bottom of the barrel. The extraction,
transport, processing and combustion of these fuels all disproportionately impact low-income communities, indigenous communities,and communities of color,” Joseph said.

According to a
study co-authored by Dr. Michael Hendrix in 2011, a researcher at West Virginia
University, “Self-reported cancer rates were significantly higher in the
mining versus the non-mining area after control for respondent age, sex,
smoking, occupational history, and family cancer history (odds ratio =
2.03, 95% confidence interval = 1.32–3.13). Mountaintop mining is linked to
increased community cancer risk.” The study's researchers collected data from 773 adults in door-to-door
interviews.

As people in West Virginia see the lack of opportunities, they often leave
the area to pursue a future elsewhere. Larry Gibson, of Kayford said, “Our
biggest export in this state besides coal is our young people.”

Marilyn Mullens of Coolridge, W.Va., said “Clean water and air is a human
right. My electricity is not worth my human rights being violated–I’ll live
with the lights off. I want my children and grandchildren to enjoy the
beauty of West Virginia. We’re tired of the corporations lording over us,
and no one is hearing our voices, so it’s time to take it further than
talking.” Mullens is an organizer of Women United to End Mountaintop
Removal, a May 28 event, in which women will shave their heads in front of
the W.Va. Capitol in protest of mountaintop removal.

“For the past 150 years the coal industry has been pillaging this place and
taking everything, leaving nothing but death and destruction in their wake.
I am personally very thankful to these young folks who ain't from around
here necessarily who decided to put their freedom and bodies on the line to
stop this vicious cycle, even if it is just for one day,” Junior Walk of XX
said, “I would love to see some of my native West Virginia brothers and
sisters stand up and tell this industry they can't do this anymore.”
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