Mountain Mobilization shuts down largest mountaintop removal mine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2012

Contact: Charles Suggs, 304-449-NVDA (6832), media@wg.rampscampaign.org
Talking Points document: http://rampscampaign.org/key-messages-of-mountain-mobilization/

“Mountain Mobilization” shuts down Logan Co. strip mine

Call for end to strip mining and a just transition for the region’s families

Charleston, W.Va.—More than 50 protesters affiliated with the R.A.M.P.S. Campaign have walked onto Patriot Coal’s Hobet mine and shut it down.  Ten people locked to a rock truck, boarded it and dropped banners: “Coal Leaves, Cancer Stays.”  At least three have been arrested, with another in a tree being threatened by miners with a chain saw.  Earlier in the day, two people were arrested at Kanawha State Forest before a group of protesters headed to the state capitol.

“The government has aided and abetted the coal industry in evading environmental and mine safety regulations. We are here today to demand that the government and coal industry end strip mining, repay their debt to Appalachia, and secure a just transition for this region,” Dustin Steele of Matewan, W.Va. said.  Steele was one of the people locked to the rock truck.

Mounting scientific evidence shows that strip mining negatively impacts community health and miner health.   Recent studies have found a 42 percent increase in risk of birth defects around strip mines, and miners who spend at least 20 years as strip-mine drillers have a 61 percent chance of contracting silicosis, a virulent form of black lung.  “The coal companies are poisoning our water and air, and they’re treating the workers no better than the land – fighting workplace health and safety protections to get the most out of labor as they can,” said Junior Walk of Whitesville, W.Va.

As coal production declines, protesters are concerned that the region will be left with only illness and environmental devastation as the industry pulls out of the region and companies file for bankruptcy to shed legacy costs.

Patriot Coal is currently going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in which union contracts and pensions could be on the chopping block.  Both UMWA pensions and the state’s Special Reclamation Fund are funded through a per-ton tax on coal.  With Central Appalachian coal production in the middle of a projected six-year, 50 percent decline, this funding stream is increasingly unsustainable.  Protesters are calling on the coal industry and government to ensure that funding is available both to honor commitments to retired workers and to restore the land.

“Coal companies must employ their surface mine workers in reclaiming all disturbed land to the highest standards.  Instead of arguing about the ‘war on coal,’ political leaders should immediately allocate funds to retrain and re-employ laid off miners to secure a healthy future for the families of this region,” said R.A.M.P.S. spokesperson Mathew Louis-Rosenberg.

Appalachian communities, from union miners to the anti-strip mining activists of the 1960s, have a proud history of confronting the coal industry and demanding an end to its exploitive practices with direct civil disobedience. R.A.M.P.S. and other campaigns have returned to this tradition to eliminate strip mining once and for all. Since its founding in 2011, R.A.M.P.S. has organized a range of actions, from tree-sits to blockades of coal trucks.

Today’s protesters are among the hundreds of people across the country who are joining this summer’s National Uprising Against Extraction, using radical tactics to fight oppressive extractive industries and demand a transition to a sustainable economy.

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Media Advisory: Dozens of people to walk onto West Virginia strip mine next week, shut it down

PRESS ADVISORY, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Mat Louis-Rosenberg
Phone: 304-449-NVDA (6832)
E-mail: media@wg.rampscamaign.org

Dozens of people to walk onto strip mine next week, shut it down

Who: RAMPS (Radical Action for Mountain Peoples’ Survival), local and regional allies, activists from around the country.

What: The Mountain Mobilization–largest in U.S. history protest to shut down a strip mine in Southern West Virginia.  The movement against mountaintop removal has been gaining ground, with the longest tree sit in the history of the eastern US last summer, coal barge and truck blockades this Spring, and June’s sit-ins in Washington D.C. Meanwhile, environmental protections are under attack by politicians serving corporate interests. “Mountain Mobilization” is part of a national uprising against fossil fuels taking place this summer. In sharp contrast to Washington inaction, ordinary citizens around the country are turning to the proud American tradition of direct action– from July 28’s Stop The Frack Attack protest in Washington D.C. to August’s Coal Export Action in Helena, Montana.  RAMPS and allies will not back down until the Obama Administration takes decisive action to protect American communities from these extreme extraction industries.

When: Wednesday July 25 – Wednesday August 1, with mass walk-on to a strip mine July 28

Where: Southern West Virginia.  Contact us to be present for the mass walk-on on July 28.

Why: Demand the end to a mining practice that is destroying communities and an end to government inaction.  Mountaintop removal is a high-technology mining technique that has reduced employment in Appalachia and endangered the health and safety of mountain communities.  Numerous studies have shown clear links between the technique and cardiovascular disease, birth defects, cancer, and other illnesses.  Junior Walk, a native of southern West Virginia’s Coal River Valley who has experienced first-hand the health impacts of growing up with polluted water, says,  “King Coal is feeling the pressure like never before, and that means this is the most important time to ramp up resistance.  Now is when we decide if we let the coal industry strip it all before deserting Appalachia or if we send them packing while we still have mountains.”

Rising Tide North Texas Announces North Texas Keystone Convergence, July 27-29

Rising Tide North Texas Announces North Texas Keystone Convergence, July 27-29

Register Here!

On July 27th-29th, Rising Tide North Texas and the Tar Sands Blockade are hosting a 3-day training in North Texas for anyone hoping to engage in nonviolent direct action against the Gulf Coast portion of Keystone XL pipeline.

It’s strongly suggested that local activists interested in taking part in the Tar Sands Blockade, or creating their own direct actions, attend this training.

Participants will focus on learning, implementing, and imagining new tactics for non-violent blockades and other forms of direct action. This camp will take place outdoors in the Texas summer, people should come prepared for very hot weather. Participants will be camping on site, and while special arrangements may be available, people should understand that the nature of this camp may make it difficult for those with physical conditions that limit their ability to be in hot environments for long periods of time.

With this convergence, organizers intend to take a very large step towards implementing the most effective and sustained blockade this country has ever seen. If you are passionate about the environment and want to be a part of an unprecedented blockade action, we urge you to attend this camp and throw your energy and talents into the mix.

The afternoon hours of the day will be filled with informative workshops while folks escape the heat:
Nonviolent Direct Action
Anti-oppression
Community organizing
Dealing with police
First-aid
Environmental Justice

If you want to help make the Tar Sands Blockade bigger and better, and to do that you must participate! But the bigger picture in this fight involves inspiring others to take action for themselves. One of the primary goals of the Keystone Convergence, aside from preparing folks to participate in our action, is to collaborate with people who want to design an action of their own. This is the most exciting part, and we want you to be there!

Friday the 27th will be a travel and welcoming day. Trainings will begin the 28th and continue for two full days. Those who want to stay and continue helping us organize the blockade are welcome to do so! Details of camp location will be released to those who have signed up a few days prior to the camp. We will also be sending a list of recommended items to bring.

We are making every effort to make this camp free and no one will be turned away due to lack of funds. We will be accepting donations for food, water, and materials on a sliding scale. Tents and other camping gear will be provided for those who are unable to bring their own.

See you in North Texas!

Register here.

Marcellus Earth First! Blockade Shuts Down Frack Drilling in PA State Forest

For more details check out Marcellus Earth First! here.

Earth First! Blockade Shuts Down Frack Drilling in PA State Forest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
9 July 2012

Contacts: Ben 412-482-0041, Danielle 570-854-2288

PENFIELD, PA.–Nearly 100 Earth First! activists, friends and allies forced a 70-foot-tall EQT hydrofracking drill rig to suspend operations for 12 hours yesterday in Pennsylvania’s Moshannon State Forest. This is the first time that protesters have shut down a hydrofrack drilling operation in the US. A tree sitter hung above the access road, with their anchor ropes blocking it. A second person was also in a tree to support the sitter while dozens of supporters guarded ten large debris piles that were across the road. Another group of 50 activists blockaded the entrance to the access road. The State Police, with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, dispersed the blockade around nine p.m. And removed the tree sitters with a ladder truck. Three arrests were made for disorderly conduct, but protesters were cited and released on-site.

There are a limited number of actual drill rigs in operation in the state which are ferried around from site to site on a tight schedule. By halting operations for a day on this site, the blockade has likely created a costly disruption for a handful of wells in the area which EQT apparently planned to drill in succession.

The activists reported that the police were at times reckless with the sitters’ safety, such as being quick to cut their anchor ropes.  The supporting sitter’s safety and descent ropes were cut by the police as he climbed higher in the tree.  The police in the ladder truck had no radios and communication to the ground was difficult over the noise of the diesel engine; at one point the ladder hit one of the sitter’s support lines. Police were seen taunting the sitter by waving around one of their anchor lines and making jokes at them while shaking the hammock.

The site is part of a high concentration of wells in Moshannon State Forest, one of the most heavily drilled state forests in Pennsylvania. Over half of the forest’s 190,000 acres have been leased for Marcellus drilling using hydraulic fracturing. Despite widespread public opposition, the former PA secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources predicts 12,000 Marcellus wells will be drilled in state forests in the coming decade1. A recent poll showed that the majority of Pennsylvanians are opposed to fracking on public lands2.

Local farmer Jenny Lisak, whose own property has been impacted by fracking, describes the devastation she has seen in the Moshannon, “Having grown up enjoying Moshannon State Forest in so many ways, I am absolutely appalled at the ongoing destruction. The once narrow and inviting oak-shaded lanes are now being replaced by dust and traffic choked roads for chemical laden trucks – there are no words to describe the injustice of taking public land, meant to provide a source of beauty and wilderness for all and turning it into an industrial zone.”

Drilling in the area has a troubled history. In June 2010, a major blowout at another well in Clearfield County spewed 35,000 gallons of toxic drilling waste into the Little Laurel Run watershed and caused the evacuation of Moshannon State Forest3. Since 2008, only 24 of EQT’s 198 Marcellus wells in the state have been inspected and violations were found at every single inspection. When they have been cited, they’ve refused to change their practices. On May 9, 2012, in Duncan Township, Tioga County, EQT was cited for faulty construction on a flowback water impoundment; three weeks later the pit failed, contaminating a nearby spring4

“This is part of an escalating direct action campaign against fracking in the Marcellus Shale region,” said Danielle Dietterick, an activist affiliated with Marcellus Earth First! from Benton, Pa. “People from all around the country have joined with Pennsylvania residents to put their bodies on the line to stop fracking.”

The action comes on the heels of a 12-day blockade to stop the displacement of the Riverdale Mobile Home Park, in Lycoming County, and the shutdown of a fracking wastewater injection well near Athens, Ohio. Groups across the country are planning more anti-extraction interventions like RAMPS in West Virginia and the Tar Sands Blockade in Texas, later this month. All these independent, grassroots-led actions show perhaps a coalescing national uprising against exploitative extraction.

Susan Riley, another supporter, cheered on the bold action, “The state government has sold off our public lands and, with Act 13, stripped us of our rights to local self-governance. The fracking industry has free reign in this state and no one’s gonna stop them unless we do.”

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