>>>Update: Read the live-blog of the event here<<<
>>>Update: Watch the debate live here.<<<
So, is coal part of West Virginia’s future? This Thursday evening at 6:30pm Robert F. Kennedy Jr will debate Don Blankenship on the future of coal, mountaintop removal and economic opportunities for Appalachia. Kennedy, chief litigator for the Waterkeeper’s Alliance and Blankenship, CEO of WV’s largest coal producer Massey energy, are both titans on this issue.
Convened by the University of Charleston president Ed Welch, the debate has already garnered significant attention from the media and people across coal country. With the bright spotlight focused on dirty coal, the debate will likely have a big impact on public opinion. We can help shape that public opinion. Watch Colbert’s brilliant segment on mountaintop removal last night, and then read on for how you can help.
We can help shape this debate. With the extra focus on this debate, more people than ever will be looking to find out more, searching for coal terms, and trying to decide ‘who won the debate’. We can make sure that people get good information, instead of coal industry propaganda.
- Get friends, lists and networks to watch the debate
- Read-up on the context – who’s involved and what’s at stake
- Get the details on how to watch and who will be live-blogging Thursday night
Help spread the word. The debate is going to be exciting, totally worth watching and something that will bring in people with a mild interest in environmental and justice issues. Lets mount a big campaign to tweet, facebook, email and spread by word of mouth the details for this debate. During the sit-in in Copenhagen, we had thousands of viewers come to our site through twitter, and we can repeat that with hard work and creativity.
Ed Welch, the president of Charleston University, will moderate the debate. It came about through conversations with Ted Armbrecht, a Charleston city councilman. Welch then asked Blankenship and Kennedy to attend, hoping to increase the prestige of the university and serve the people of West Virginia by creating an open forum for honest debate. [link ]
Last week a peer-reviewed article in Science called for the end to mountaintop removal, stating that the damage is irreversible and too extreme. [link] This week another report projects the decline of coal in West Virginia because of low quality and vanishing reserves, resulting in a 50% decline in production in 10 years. [link] Because of the extreme effects, the report urges a rapid move away from coal for the sake of the state’s economic future.
Don Blankenship is notorious for buying off politicians and judges, denying global warming science and claiming to speak for the families of West Virginia [link], even as his company Massey energy kills them. In 2006 Blankenship vacationed with WV Supreme Court Justice Eliot Maynard, even as Massey was appealing a $50 million jury verdict against them. [link] Blankenship claims buying off politicians isn’t very effective, a claim that rings hollow in light of the millions he has poured into state level elections. [link]
Classic quotes from Blankenship in a recent interview with E&E news: “I don’t deny the science behind global warming, I deny that there is any science.” “My position is better for the world and my country.” “We might be in a cooling trend, and we need to burn more coal to reverse it.” And maybe my favorite, “No, we don’t need to keep researching carbon capture and sequestration. We’ve already spent billions and that money has been waste.” Blankenship claims to know what’s best for working families in West Virginia, even as his company cuts jobs, poisons people and levels the state. From a recent AP article:
…Blankenship is featured in the current issue of Rolling Stone Magazine in an article titled “The Climate Killers: Meet the 17 polluters and deniers who are derailing efforts to curb global warming.”
Robert F. Kennedy Jr, son of the late senator Bobby Kennedy is a passionate advocate for ending mountaintop removal mining and protecting water supplies around the world. From wikipedia
In 1984, Kennedy joined the Riverkeeper organization to satisfy the 1,500 hours community service to which he was sentenced. He worked with the group to sue alleged polluters of the Hudson River. After his 1,500 hours were complete, the group hired Kennedy as its chief prosecuting attorney. Riverkeeper was founded in 1966 by a group of fishermen and residents from New York.
You’ll likely hear personal attacks against Kennedy, such as his notable 1983 arrest for heroin possessions. More from wikipedia:
In 1983, he was arrested in a Rapid City South Dakota Airport for heroin possession. A search of his carry-on bag uncovered 183 milligrams of the drug. Upon entering a plea of guilty, Kennedy, then 29 years old, was sentenced to two years probation, periodic tests for drug use, treatment by joining Narcotics Anonymous, and 1,500 hours of community service by Presiding Judge Marshall P. Young.
Kennedy’s recent statements on the issue:
“Mountaintop removal is the worst manmade catastrophe in the nation’s history,” he said. “It’s also an economic catastrophe for West Virginia. The coal industry, while promising prosperity to the state, has devastated communities across the state.”
“[Kennedy] claimed that the people who benefit from the coal industry the most are out-of-state investors, rather than the people in the mining communities, he said.” [AP article, printed in the Herald Dispatch]
“And those interests, what I call thieving interests, are liquidating the state of West Virginia for cash,” he said. “Why is it, my father asked this, why is it that the state with the richest natural resources in America is the second-poorest state in America?”
“You look at his mine sites, these people are coming from out of state. And they’re not sustainable jobs. Even by their own admissions, the jobs last five years to 15 years, tops. This is not something that’s enriching West Virginia.” [WV Pubcast]
“I am looking forward to meeting Mr. Blankenship in Charleston to finally engage openly in the critical dialogue over the economic, environmental and cultural impacts of mountaintop removal,” stated Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. “Mountaintop removal has devastated, corrupted and impoverished West Virginia, but it is not just a local issue. The devastating ripples from these blasts reverberate across the country and around the world, in the form of mercury in all of our watersheds, coal ash poisoning our drinking water, ozone and particulates that sicken our citizens, and escalating global warming. There is no more important issue facing our nation than our energy future. It’s my hope that this debate helps finally put the true facts about mountaintop removal in front of the American public” [link]
Lets put the true facts about mountaintop removal in front of the public, and end the destructive practice once and for all.
How to watch:
- Live remote: A live broadcast will be shown at the Eddie King Gymnasium of the University of Charleston, which holds about 2,000. Admission is first come, first serve.
- Watch the “Forum on the Future of Energy” live on WOWK, WBOY, WTRF, and WVNS, or on these websites: www.wowktv.com, www.wboy.com, www.wtrf.com, www.wvnstv.com, and www.wsaz.com. Listen live on West Virginia Public Radio.
- Tune into West Virginia Public Radio Thursday, January 21 at 6 p.m. for live coverage of the debate.
- The Waterkeepers Alliance has promised a live-feed on their website – we’re working on tracking down the link they will use.
- In addition, Rainforest Action Network will be doing a lot of blogging on The Understory
- Several posts will be featured on ItsGettingHotInHere, including reports from the Climate Ground Zero campaign, Coal River Mountain Watch and live-blogging during the event.
More ways to connect:
- Follow RAN on twitter @ran
- Follow Waterkeeper Alliance on twitter @waterkeeper
- Become a fan of Waterkeeper on Facebook
Lets get the word out and make this the end of mountaintop removal coal mining.