Archive for the 'Mountain Top Removal' Category

From Kentucky to DC

From Guest Blogger Harrison Kirby of Louisville, KY

“We aren’t evil, I promise,” said the evil congressman’s intern after he said he couldn’t help stop mountaintop removal coal mining. If you ever become a congressional intern and you find yourself in a situation where you must clarify that you are not in fact a villain, you are probably doing something wrong. If that terrible offense is mountaintop removal mining, you are definitely wrong.101_5519

To right that wrong is why I am lobbying in Washington DC during the Alliance for Appalachia’s Week in Washington. My name is Harrison Kirby, and I live in Louisville, Kentucky. I work on climate issues, for example by helping plan the iMatter March in Louisville with a teen-led youth group called OurEarthNow. We continually take action in the face of massive—and accelerating—destruction of our planet’s climate. But the issue which I care the most about, the one which I believe is the most viscous, terrible, and obviously wrong is mountaintop removal mining. I work with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth to create a movement to end mountaintop removal mining and transition to a just economy. I realize that Eastern Kentucky might not count as my house because I live in the city, but I do live in Kentucky, and seeing a mountaintop removal site makes me and so many other people say “I claim this land, and my land is being destroyed.”

The arguments against mountaintop removal have been laid out plainly—it increases poverty, cancer and birth defect rates among the people nearby—but lobbying involves a bit of tact to get an intern on board with The Clean Water Protection Act. (We rarely get to speak to the actual congressperson.) This bill, H.R. 1375, would restore the Clean Water Act to its original intent. Basically, it says that you cannot fill streams with waste. This would end the process of mountaintop removal. Currently, the bill only has 124 cosponsors, so there is plenty of progress to be made amongst the 435 congress people—and we have over 100 people here to lobby. You can call in to support us here at

Continue reading ‘From Kentucky to DC’

BREAKING: Activists Scale Coal Plant in Asheville, NC

UPDATE:  The 16 activists who pulled off 4 actions at the same plant have now left the site and been taken into custody. What an amazing job they did,  let’s all hope they are safe and well and get out of jail soon.

Early this morning Greenpeace activists entered the coal-burning Asheville Power Station owned by Progress Energy (soon to be owned by Duke Energy). Activists have locked down to the coal loader and have scaled the 400 foot tall smoke stack. Banners read: Duke and Progress Energy:  Stop Destroying Mountains.


Follow the Action:

Continue reading ‘BREAKING: Activists Scale Coal Plant in Asheville, NC’

Coal River Mountain Tree Sit Honors Judy Bonds

“I want you to notice nature, how geese are in flight and they form a V in a leadership role…The lead goose, when he gets tired of flapping his wings, he drops to the back and the next goose comes up front. Without stopping, without fussing, without whining. He becomes that next leader, he or she, that’s what we have to do.” -Judy Bonds, PowerShift 2007

The Coal River Mountain tree sit, currently on day six of halting mining on a large portion of the active site on Coal River Mountain, is partly in honor of Judy Bonds.  Judy was a devoted anti mountaintop removal activist who passed away earlier this year from cancer- no doubt from living nearby strip mining for most of her life. She was a pillar of strength in the movement who inspired many with her powerful speeches and generous love for her homeland, the Coal River Valley and the people who worked with her to save it.

Junior Walk, who was arrested supporting tree sitters Catherine Ann MacDougal and Becks Kolins at the site of the sit on July 20, 2011, knew Judy Bonds all his life.
“If it weren’t for Judy I probably wouldn’t be able to do any of the work I do today, and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to put my freedom and safety on the line like I did to help with this tree sit. Judy took a chance on me, when I came to her looking for a way to plug in I was just a security guard on a strip mine and that’s probably where I’d still be today if it weren’t for her.”

Junior is among many of us who have been touched deeply by Judy Bonds and her courage to stand up against injustice.

Thank you for your guidance and inspiration Judy! We will “fight harder.”

Visit for ongoing updates on the Coal River Mountain Tree Sit.

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.

The March on Blair Mountain Begins


Amidst threats and intimidation by King Coal’s supporters, 600 courageous marchers kicked off a five day march from Marmet, WV to Blair Mountain.

Blair Mountain was the site of the second largest armed insurrection (after the Civil War) in U.S. history. 8000-10000 miners fighting for union rights took up arms against hired coal thugs. Blair Mountain has been an iconic symbol for both the U.S. labor movement and West Virginia itself. And now coal companies want to strip mine Blair Mountain. They’ve already stripped it of its historical preservation status and are now seeking permitting to strip mine it.

In fact, they’ve already begun strip mining on parts of it or so I hear.

You can tell the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection – “Don’t let big coal destroy our history”, by sending a comment to tell them to protect Blair Mountain

While the 1921 marchers faced hardship and armed opposition (armed private security, bombs from planes, federal troops), the 2011 marchers are facing harassment by pro-coal supporters along the way. A tweet this morning from @marchonblairmt reported “Road has scattered clusters of opposition as honking coal trucks hug the the shoulder – marchers squeeze to fit on.Continue reading ‘The March on Blair Mountain Begins’

Appalachians Celebrate Ison Rock Ridge and Protest the Mountain’s Pending Demise


Ison Rock Ridge is a mountain in southwest Virginia under attack by coal companies seeking to blow the top off of it for seams of coal. Today in Appalachia, VA, 50 Virginia residents and Mountain Justice activists marched through the town to celebrate Ison Rock Ridge and protest it’s pending demise.

Here’s the press release:

Local Residents March in Downtown Appalachia to Celebrate Ison Rock Ridge and Protest Mountain’s Pending Demise

Appalachia, VA – Over 50 people marched through downtown Appalachia, calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to deny the proposed surface mine permit for Ison Rock Ridge and keep the ridge standing. People marched with puppets of Ison Rock Ridge, King Coal holding Governor McDonnell and Representative Morgan Griffith, and signs saying “Keep Ison Rock Ridge Standing,” and “Friends of Mountains and Miners,” while musicians played traditional Appalachian tunes.

“The EPA is our last line of defense, here in Appalachia. We support what they have done to date to hold up this permit and we just want them to stick to their guns and stand strong,” said Sam Broach, former miner and president of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards.

The event was kicked off with a rally at 10 a.m. downtown with speakers from SAMS and allied organizations representing 10 different states. After the rally, the group marched through downtown Appalachia with the signs and puppets while chanting “Keep Ison Rock Ridge Standing.” People marched to the Andover Community Center where they celebrated the mountain’s 460 millionth birthday with a fish fry and birthday cake. The party was a celebration that the mountain remains standing, its cultural value preserved and the health of neighboring communities protected for generations to come.

“If this permit is approved, we will only see an increase in the already-devastating health impacts on our people as result of mountaintop removal coal mining,” said Jane Branham, a nurse and vice-president of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards. “Our people are dying from the pollution in the water and air and the EPA is the only agency that is willing to take a stand to protect us.” Continue reading ‘Appalachians Celebrate Ison Rock Ridge and Protest the Mountain’s Pending Demise’

Students Stand Up and Say “No More Coal”!

Yesterday more progress was made in the effort to move the state of Massachusetts beyond coal and towards a clean energy revolution. The Utility and Telecommunications Committee had open public hearings for several proposed bills which call for an end to fossil fuel dependence in the state, one of which was written by students from Students for a Just and Stable Future ( The hearing started with an introduction of the bills by Rep. Eherlich from the 8th Essex District, who continued to explain how organizing around the coal power plant in her community is what drove her to first become civically engaged.The hearing was well attended by concerned community members, public health advocate groups as well as students from across the state.

After Representative Eherlich spoke, members from Environmental League Massachusetts and the Sierra Club outlined the health risks posed by coal power plants. The Sierra Club also offered reference to their recent publication on how renewable energy sources can replace the base load power for the grid which is presently generated by fossil fuels and nuclear power. Four members from Students for a Just and Stable Future then spoke on behalf of their drafted legislation, house docket #2625, which is entitled “An Act to Phase Out Coal Burning and Use”. Unlike other bills in front of the committee that ask for this to be done by the year 2020, Students for a Just and Stable Future believe that the issue demands more urgency and should be accomplished by 2015. The students who spoke addressed the many externalities pushed onto local communities and the environment throughout the coal commodity chain covering everything from the devastation due to mountain top removal to the effects emissions are having in the form of acid rain and global climate change.

Continue reading ‘Students Stand Up and Say “No More Coal”!’

Katuah Earth First! unfurls banner inside Duke Energy shareholders meeting

On May 5 activists with Katuah Earth First! managed to sneak a banner intoDuke Energy’s annual shareholder meeting in Charlotte, NC. Just as the question and comment session was wrapping up, the activists unfurled a large banner reading, “Carbon Free, Nuclear Free” in an act of protest against Duke’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels and nukes.

To the activists surprise, they were not bothered by security and were able to eventually leave the building without arrest, where they joined a crowd of about 50 protesters demanding that Duke rapidly shift to sustainable energy sources.

Duke is apparently suffering some setbacks for both its planned nuclear and coal plants. The nuclear disaster in Japan has helped to derail legislation in NC that would have made it easier for Duke to finance its nuke plants. And in Indiana Duke is facing mounting costs to finish its Edwardsport coal plant. Duke is also being investigated for “undue influence” (ahem, bribery) of politicians in Indiana. The scandal has already cost 3 Duke executives there jobs.

Eco-activists weren’t the only ones out protesting Duke. Protestors with the conservative group FreedomWorks turned out to oppose Duke’s $10 million contribution to host the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in 2012. Well, there is one thing we can agree on with the FreedomWorks folks. We don’t want those spineless, corporate ass-kissing Democrats throwing their party in our state either!

Honoring History: Marching to Preserve Blair Mountain

– Guest Post by Denise Giardina regarding the upcoming March on Blair Mountain

The March on Blair Mountain is a unifying rally involving environmental justice organizations, workers, scholars, artists, and other citizens and groups. Visit or for information. See you in June 4 – 11!

Ninety years ago, in 1921, thousands of coal miners marched from Marmet, West Virginia to Blair Mountain in Logan County. They were West Virginians from a variety of backgrounds, standing up against coal companies for their freedom and basic human rights. They tied red bandannas around their necks and marched to throw out local politicians who had aligned themselves with coal companies. They marched because they were dying from unsafe working conditions, because they were being cheated out of their rightful pay. They marched because they were being denied the right to join a union, because their families were living in terrible conditions and dying from ill health, because coal company thugs subjected them to violence, because the companies and state government were taking away their basic civil liberties.

When these brave miners reached Blair Mountain, they found coal company forces and state police arrayed against them with rifles and machine guns. The standoff lasted for several days and ended when federal troops with not only machine guns, but also poison gas, and airplanes with bombs, arrived on the scene. The Battle of Blair Mountain was one of the most stirring and important events in labor history in the United States. For several days it commanded the top headlines in newspapers such as the New York Times. The immediate aftermath was the crushing of the United Mine Workers throughout the region for the next twelve years, but with the election of Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s, the hope of Blair Mountain was realized. The United Mine Workers of America began the long process of improving the lot of American coal miners.

How far we have fallen in the last thirty years! Coal companies like Massey (now Alpha Energy) have stripped union protection from miners who are dying in devastating accidents. Because of coal company intimidation, basic civil liberties like freedom of assembly are infringed. Coalfield residents are again dying because of the poisoning of the environment from valley fills, slurry injections, and coal ash. West Virginia politicians continue in the pockets of the coal companies, where they attempt to deprive their citizens of their state of even the basic protections that the fed government provides. And mountains across the region are being destroyed. Even Blair Mountain, that most important peak in West Virginia’s history, is not safe.

Our ancestors who marched on Blair Mountain understood some things that we would like to remind our fellow West Virginians, Appalachians and Americans about. The coal miners who marched on Blair Mountain understood that they were not friends of coal. These coal miners deeply understood that the West Virginia coal operators and the international coal industry were not their friends. They understood that they must stand against coal companies.

We are here to announce a new, peaceful march on Blair Mountain in early June, and we invite our fellow citizens to join us. We call for protection for Blair Mountain from mountaintop removal; indeed, an end to all mountaintop removal. We call for protection of our streams and our drinking water. We call for our politicians to protect people and the environment. We call for coal to be deep mined by union coal miners who are protected by their union and by strong government regulatory agencies. We call for West Virginia to become once again the Mountain State, to proclaim the beauty of the summits of the West Virginia hills and to insist that mountaineers are always free. We call for Americans to stand up again for our freedoms and our land, and against those corporations who would destroy both.

DENISE GIARDINA is a writer who was born and raised in the small coal camp of Black Wolf in McDowell County, West Virginia. Her novels, fictionalizing historical characters and events, have been critically acclaimed and recognized with a number of literary prizes. Her novel Storming Heaven portrays life in southern West Virginia in the period during and preceding the coal mine wars, and culminates in the Battle of Blair Mountain. Giardina is an ordained Episcopal Church deacon, a community activist and a former candidate for the WV state governorship. She is active in social justice issues in the Appalachian coalfields, working for land reform in an area that is largely owned by absentee corporations, demonstrating with striking miners, and speaking out against mountaintop removal. She is currently writer-in-residence at West Virginia State University.

Join Tim DeChristopher, Wendell Berry, & Others on April 12 to Discuss Principled Activism

By Scott Gast, Orion magazine:

It’s been a bold few months for citizen climate action.

In March, University of Utah graduate student Tim DeChristopher was convicted for derailing an oil and gas auction that would have sold off a huge chunk of Utah’s public land. And in February, thirteen Kentuckians, including farmer and writer Wendell Berry, walked into their governor’s office and refused to leave until they got what they wanted: a promise from the governor to pay attention, finally, to the havoc wreaked on Kentucky by mountaintop-removal coal mining.

Not going to Powershift? Or looking for an extra dose of inspiration before trekking to DC next weekend? Here’s a chance to hear from the activists themselves:

On April 12, at 7 pm Eastern, 4 pm Pacific, Orion magazine will host Tim DeChristopher, Wendell Berry, and Teri Blanton (Teri joined Wendell for the Kentucky Rising sit-in in February) for a free, live web discussion.

The group will discuss how climate activism is changing, what can be learned from the peaceful uprisings in Wisconsin and the Middle East, and take audience questions.

Register for this free web event, here:

Tim, Wendell, and the members of Kentucky Rising are reminders of the real challenge in front of each of us: matching belief with action. With all the bold activism we’ve seen recently, is there a better time to stand up and speak for the future?

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