Breaking: Tree Sit on Coal River Mountain!

Mining Operations on Coal River Mountain

Update: Photos available here. The RAMPS site is having bandwidth issues likely due to the massive amount of interest – see here.


Earlier Post:

Two protesters have halted blasting on a section of strip-mine on Coal River mountain.  Check out for more.  From the group’s press release today:

MARFORK, W.Va. – Two protesters associated with the RAMPS Campaign halted blasting on a portion of Alpha Natural Resources’ Bee Tree mountaintop removal mine on Coal River Mountain today by ascending two trees.  Catherine-Ann MacDougal, 24, and Becks Kolins, 21, are on platforms approximately 80 feet off the ground within 300 feet of active blasting on the mine.  The banners hanging from their platforms read “Stop Strip Mining” and “For Judy Bonds” in honor of strip mining activist Julia “Judy” Bonds of Packsville, W.Va. who died of cancer earlier this year.  The activists demand that Alpha Natural Resources stop strip mining on Coal River Mountain and that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection prohibit future strip mining in the Coal River Watershed.

“I feel, with the keen urgency of extinction, that Alpha Natural Resources cannot be allowed to tear apart Coal River Mountain and allow all those living below it to suffer for their profits. The Coal River watershed cannot tolerate any more damage. There is no way that I can begin to detail the comprehensive destruction that surface mining and mountaintop removal wreak on the forest ecosystem of the southern Appalachian mountains,” said Catherine-Ann MacDougal.

Message from the UK to Power Shift 2011

Leaders of the UK Youth Climate Coalition are pretty inspired by what they’ve seen, and they sent a message of solidarity and hope.  Watch to hear about their plans for building a movement across Europe this summer.

Hey everyone!

Power Shift US looks like it has been going amazingly well!  – Great work to you all!

We were so inspired by what you were getting up to, that we thought we would send Power Shift US a message from Power Shift UK and Europe… :)


New York State Bans most gas Fracking for 7 Months

Both houses of the New York State legislature recently passed a bill for a 6 month moratorium on methane (natural) gas fracking.  Citizen concerns about pollution, trampling of land rights, and a groundbreaking new film Gasland have fueled a massive grassroots backlash against companies like Haliburton diving headfirst into the gas rush.

Image via the Working Families Party

The fracking moratorium bill was vetoed, but Governor David Patterson issued an executive order in its place that does a more limited version of the same thing.  The bill would have banned all wells, but the executive order only bans ‘horizontal wells’ – the kind where a drill rig drills sideways to get gas below other people’s property (and drinking water).

The plus : most wells are horizontal, so the order has a big impact.  The minus: polluted groundwater flows, so it doesn’t really matter where its contaminated.  And the fact that the legislature could send such a clear message on a moratorium and that Patterson still felt the need to ‘bend to industry pressure’ is worrisome.

This issue is far from going away anywhere, and New York is likely to continue to be a central piece of the Haliburton/gas industry strategy to open up every bit of gas to extraction.  The EPA is also conducting a 2 year study (2010-2012) on the safety of gas fracking.  Residents of New York hope that Lisa Jackson spends more time in impacted communities listening to stories of residents and less time listening to the oil companies.

Climate Ground Zero January Action camp and Roadshow dates

(posted on behalf of David Baghdadi of Rock Creek, WV.)

Participants in the Fall Summit tree planting action, Kayford Mountain

We at Climate Ground Zero would like to thank everyone that helped make the Mountain Justice Fall Summit on Kayford Mountain such a huge success.  In our largest action yet, forty-four activists walked on to the Samples Surface Mine planting over 30 trees, mostly the currently threatened hemlock, and marching a banner through some of the active area of the mine.  We sent a clear message about the ongoing catastrophe that is MTR, the inadequecy of currently reclamation, and the need to fund true reclamation and reclamation jobs.  Mine security called the police, but, for the first time in this campaign, they allowed all the activists to return to the Stanley Heirs Park. This shows the growing strength of our movement.  We hope this event emboldens others across Appalachia to take similar action.  We were honored by the prese.  We would also like to express our deep gratitude and admiration for Larry Gibson and the Keepers of the Mountains Foundation for hosting us and for his fearless and inspiration leadership.  We are all in your debt.

Things aren’t slowing down around here either.  We recently annouced our 2nd January action camp from 3rd to 24th. Just like last year, the camp will feature intensive training in all the skills needed to carry out and support nonviolent direct action.  The camp is a fulltime, three-week commitment.  Our first January camp culminated in a 9 day tree sit halting blasting on part of Coal River Mountain.  We hope multiple actions can emerge from this camp and strongly encourage anyone who wants to take a stand against MTR to apply now.

See below to see if our road-show is coming to a college near you from Nov 27th – Dec 8th to learn more. Continue reading ‘Climate Ground Zero January Action camp and Roadshow dates’

Enhanced Patdowns or Fighting the Real Domestic Terrorists: Massey’s Deadly Record

Americans take our security pretty seriously.  Ever since the color-coded threat level was introduced, we’ve quietly gone along with indignities like highway checkpoints and restrictions on who can use public libraries.  The latest indignity?  ‘Enhanced Patdowns’ for air travelers that would be considered sexual assault if they were conducted by the government.  The 4th amendment of the constitution protect us from “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Coal mine deaths, fines and significant violations for the 10 largest coal mine controllers, 2000-2009 | The Coal Truth | Investigative Reporting Workshop-1

Speaking of protection, who actually needs government protection every day?  Coal miners do.  A recent report shows that Massey Energy is the deadliest coal company in America.  Even before the April 5th explosion that killed 29 miners, Massey coal and its operators had the highest number of deaths between 2000 and 2009.  MSNBC details just how bad Massey’s safety record is, even as Don Blankenship claims to make safety a top priority.

We need enhanced patdowns of coal companies.  We need to take seriously the threat that the heartland of America faces every day from the reckless and exploitative industries that keep us hooked on fossil fuels.  Miners do hard work every day and deserve our admiration and respect.  Van Jones, speaking at a fundraiser for the Ecology Center in Michigan, said it far better than I can:

This morning 80,000 Americans got up and went to work in the coal mines. And they are America’s heroes, okay? They risk their lives, their lungs, their limbs every day to go down there and keep the lights on and power America the way we’ve always done it. 80,000 people. Nobody would disrespect them.

Well, guess what? 80,000 people got up and went to work in the wind industry in America today. 80,000. In this economy, this battered economy. The solar industry, this morning, supported 46,000 jobs. 46,000 Americans went to work in the solar industry TODAY. Now that doesn’t count Smart Batteries, Smart Grid, biofuels, energy sustainability and on and on. The energy sector, just energy, has already grown jobs at that clip. Continue reading ‘Enhanced Patdowns or Fighting the Real Domestic Terrorists: Massey’s Deadly Record’

Risking Arrest to Plant Trees on a Mountaintop Removal Site

Today 44 volunteer ‘reclamation workers’ (activists) illegally marched onto a supposedly reclaimed mine site to plant trees. Why? Because the ‘reclamation’ efforts done by the mining company resulted in a barren hillside with sparse grass and baking sun – a far cry from the lush and diverse forest destroyed in the process.

After negotiating with the police and planting all the trees, all 44 were allowed to leave the site without repurcussions.

The fight over mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia revolves around jobs. Even though the highly mechinized practice has drastically reduced the number of people employed in the mining industry, the proponents of mining say that West Virginia is poor and needs the jobs. Opponents say healthy and prosperous economies can be created in the area if only the destructive and poisionsous processes of the coal companies are stopped and the natual wealth is not destroyed.

John Johnson, forester and environmentalist said, “The coal industry does not attempt to return the landscape to its previous biodiversity – leaving it up to the citizens to reclaim it themselves. Fixing the ruined landscape will provide long term jobs for those put out of work by the abolition of mountaintop removal.”

At 12:30 today, hundreds of people rallied at Stanley Heirs Park, adjacent to Larry Gibson’s home on Kayford Mountain. Statesman Ken Hechler and Kayford Mountainkeeper Larry Gibson, along with two miners from Colombia lead the march to the mine site, with participants aged 18 to 96 years old.

Lifelong Coal River Valley resident Junior Walk says, “Coal companies sure as hell aren’t going to take it upon themselves to do something about it – some one’s got to do it.” Continue reading ‘Risking Arrest to Plant Trees on a Mountaintop Removal Site’

Appalachia Rising up in DC

Appalachians live but a few hours drive from our nation’s capitol, much closer than most of the country, and yet their voices are so seldom heard here. Maybe it has something to do with the hillbilly reputation. And maybe, because their voices are so seldom heard here, they’ve become prime targets for reckless industrial practices like mountaintop removal coal mining, or MTR.

Today, thousands of Appalachians and concerned citizens are trying to change that, by taking to the streets in DC with all the fierce determination and creative enthusiasm that the steep Appalachian mountains engender. Today Appalachia is rising up to demand an end to mountaintop removal coal mining.

The action’s already started – check out these pictures from an early morning occupation of the Army Corp of engineers building. Continue reading ‘Appalachia Rising up in DC’

Don’t Undermine our Farms: Coal and Gas Protest in Queensland, Australia

Photo: Timothy Jay

By Shani Tager, Robert Price and Daniel Sharp

The banner read, ‘don’t undermine our farms’ as an unlikely scene unfolded in Australia at Queensland’s State Parliament on August 4 with ten kids on pedal tractors, two people hanging a banner off the roof of parliament house, a platypus staring down the police, “the frackman”, ten members of parliament, a federal senator and a senate candidate, an American gas activist, author and filmmaker and a large crowd that included a few busloads of farmers who made the three to four hour trip into the city.

Farmers and environmentalists, concerned citizens and rural landholders, children and grandparents rallied together at Queensland parliament house to demand protection of farmland from coal and gas mining.  The groups; Six Degrees, Friends of the Earth , Save our Darling Downs, Community Climate Network Queensland, Friends of Felton, the Basin Sustainability Alliance, Western Downs Alliance, Wandoan Clean Foods Alliance, the Kingaroy Concerned Citizens Group and the Queensland Conservation Council are all concerned about the threats posed to valuable cropping land, rural communities, the Great Artesian Basin and our climate. Together they brought three simple demands to the Queensland parliament –

  1. Ban coal and coal seam gas mining on good quality agricultural land
  2. Institute a moratorium on coal seam gas until the environmental and social     impacts are assessed.
  3. Support renewable energy and sustainable agriculture.

The Frackman. Photos: Western Downs Alliance

In light of the plan to put about 40,000 gas wells across the fertile Darling Downs, one of Australia’s most agriculturally productive areas, American filmmaker and author Tara Meixsell warned the crowd that America’s recent unhappy experience with gas mining could be Queensland’s near future.

The expansion of Queensland’s coal and gas mining industries is rampant. The Queensland government is committed to doubling our coal exports. Open cut coal mines, underground coal gasification, and coal seam gas projects are being planned and developed at a frightening pace and it seems nothing is sacred. The Great Artesian Basin, an enormous underground aquifer which supports agriculture, communities and ecosystems across vast swathes of the Australian continent is under threat of contamination.

Continue reading ‘Don’t Undermine our Farms: Coal and Gas Protest in Queensland, Australia’

Losing the War With Fossil Fuels

… And they strike back at us anywhere and everywhere.

A gas explosion in a San Francisco Suburb last night destroyed an entire city block, killing at least 6 people and destroying over 50 homes.  The San Bruno disaster started at 6pm when a fireball erupted from a ruptured gas line, shooting flames 1000 feet into the air.

Today it looks like a war zone – the aftermath of an epic battle raged between firefighters and the dangerous chemicals we keep so tantalizingly close. Burned out cars, homes reduced to rubble, a 15′ crater in the ground – we suffered a deadly attack – by who?

“If it is ultimately determined that we were responsible for the cause of the incident, we will take accountability,” Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said in an e-mailed statement Thursday evening. But later Thursday the company’s president, Christopher Johns, said he didn’t know what sparked the explosion.

Haven’t we learned that it hardly matters what company is in charge?  Isn’t it time to levy strict punishments on the industry that keeps us fixed, and on politicians that refuse to provide alternatives?

Continue reading ‘Losing the War With Fossil Fuels’

Australia Campaigners to Make Climate a Key Issue in Last Days of Election

Guest post By Leigh Ewbank. Leigh is a Melbourne native and a 2009 summer fellow at the California-based progressive think tank, the Breakthrough Institute. Leigh consults on framing and messaging and is Director of Online Communications for Beyond Zero Emissions.

Dissatisfied with the policies of both major political parties, the Australian climate movement are attempting to make climate change a key issue in the final days of the 2010 federal election. A coalition of leading progressive and environmental organisations will hold Walk Against Warming demonstrations in the nation’s capital cities at the weekend. ‘By coming together one week before the election,’ says event organiser Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, ‘the community has a real opportunity to put climate change back on the election agenda, and push our leaders to put policies on the table that will actually cut emissions.’

The Australian Youth Climate Coalition is running its own initiatives to get climate change on the agenda. The youth-run organisation will hold the final of three Power Shift conferences this weekend. In an effort to influence the election, each of the conferences were located in areas that ‘represent crucial senate races and marginal seats in the Federal Election,’ according to AYCC spokesperson Lucy Manne. ‘Young people will make up 20 per cent of the voting population this election,’ Manne explains, ‘and the Power Shift conferences will ensure that the issues they care about will be heard.’ Continue reading ‘Australia Campaigners to Make Climate a Key Issue in Last Days of Election’


Morgan is a wandering climate activist, a job well suited to the editorial board of this site. He organized at Williams College until his aprubt and unfortunate graduation in 2008. There, he was a Chinese major, student body co-president and one of the leaders of Thursday Night Group, the campus climate action group. Since graduating, in no particular order, Morgan has worked on a community energy efficiency campaign in western Mass, co-directed NH SPROG for the SSC and worked on Power Vote in Cleveland. He spent traveled in China, networking with youth climate activists and learning about the solar hot water business. He worked on Long Island for a solar and wind company doing home evaluations and sales. And he spent the better part of a year in DC at the Avaaz Action Factory causing trouble for a good cause.

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