Mike Roselle is a Threat to the Powers That (shouldn’t) Be

Coal River Mountain is the only mountain left largely intact in South-Central West Virginia. It is the mountain in the background of the blog title and the subject of my post A Scenic Wonderland.  It is also under attack.

Massey Energy, the worst of the worst extractive companies, has been given permission by the WV Department of Environmental “Protection” to begin destroying the mountain for its thin seams of coal, despite the fact that the ridge tops have been rated as excellent sites for permanent wind turbines.

As reported in the post Are you Listening, Mr. Obama? concerned citizens have resorted to civil disobedience as a last resort to stop Massey’s calamity. One of these citizens is none other than Mike Roselle, the co-founder of Earth First! and the Rainforest Action Network.  

Since Roselle has been a thorn in the side of destructive industries for a long time, it is no surprise that the web is full of misinformation that discredits his work. When the pro-mountaintop removal forces realized Mike was helping coalfield residents, they were quick to propagate the most outlandish libels they could find on Google.

Sensing an opportunity to turn public opinion against mountain top removal opponents, several media outlets in West Virginia ran specials  warning that an ecoterrorist had moved to the coalfields. The local Fox news outlet even ran a “Roselle Report” and explicitly stated that lives were in danger.

It is no secret that the coal magnates pull the strings of the most corporatized  WV media outlets and that journalistic integrity is non-applicable. However, no one expected tactics this shameful.

The following article, describing the media’s attack on Roselle, was written by Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette. He is in a rare breed of West Virginia journalists who aren’t afraid to offend King Coal.  http://blogs.wvgazette.com/coaltattoo/2009/02/16/anti-coal-activist-drawing-some-heat/

Thirteen days after being arrested for chaining themselves to an excavator, Mike Roselle, along with James McGuinness, once again blocked work on Coal River Mountain. Visit www.climategroundzero.org to read the story and see the crazy pictures.

The back-to-back actions are remindful of the civil disobedience tactics used during the civil rights movement.

Civil disobedience can only work if it forces the public to confront an injustice.  Infrequent minor violations such as tickets for trespassing are easy for people to ignore. Only continual sacrifice will grab society by the heart and compel change. To fight segregation in the 1960s, activists would be arrested only to commit the same “crime” again immediately upon release. Ernest Wright, a preacher from New Orleans, was arrested 63 times.

The fact that Mike Roselle understands the power of civil disobedience to induce change makes him a major threat. The last thing the elites in WV need is for the residents of Coal River Valley to grab America by the heart and not let go.


7 Responses to “Mike Roselle is a Threat to the Powers That (shouldn’t) Be”

  1. very astute piece, thank you very much.

  2. John Peter Dingess Says:

    In the early 1700s my great-great-great-great-great grandfather Johan Pieter Dinges, all of eight years old, left his home of Dresden, Germany with his father, mother, sister and brother for the ocean voyage to America. They were seeking a new life. At about the same time, my father’s family left their home in Scotland, also looking for new life in America.
    During the voyage, Johan Pieter lost his entire family to fever. He was dumped off into the harbor town of Baltimore not speaking a word of English. He didn’t let this hamper him. He stood up, learned a trade and moved when he could to the area now known as West Virginia — despite clear English orders not to move west of the Appalachian foothills.
    By the 1750s and 1760s he fought in the French and Indian War. He subsequently volunteered for the Continental Army during the Revolution and was there all the way through the British surrender at Yorktown.
    In return, he was given land in what became Logan County, WV.
    My father’s family — the Workman’s of Logan County — were the first white settlers of the area. In fact, our family farm was on the Island of Logan.
    On the other side, my ancestors also fought in the Revolution and almost every other war America has fought. I have family buried all over southern West Virginia, in little cemeteries in the heads of hollows within shouting distance of mining operations.
    I grew up in these same hollows. I know first-hand the struggle to live in these hollows, where the only choice is between building homes in the floodplain or up on top of mountains where there is no utility service — not even phone or electric unless you pay for utility companies to run thousands of feet of wire and pipe up the slop to your home, or you live on a 45 degree slope. Hardly a good choice to be made.
    My own mother and father have been flooded out several times and I nearly lost my entire family to a flashflood.
    I also lost my grandfather to black lung and my dad is showing signs of the same disease. Both were underground miners.
    I have seen the problems inherent in a one-industry economy. We have prospered and suffered as the industry prospered and suffered. This isn’t the industry’s fault. We, as a people, have failed to take advantage of the industry’s economic contribution and create a diversified economy.
    Today, with mountaintop mining, we can mine coal more safely and cleanly than ever before, cutting the incidence of black lung to a fraction of what it was. While mining we can also create land that can be used for recreation, economic development, residential, infrastructure development and a myriad of other uses. Otherwise it is returned to approximate its natural state by reclamation — even the topsoil has been segregated and maintained, ready for use.

  3. Mr. Dingess, thank you for your post.

    I enjoyed reading about your ancestors, however I strongly disagree with your comments about mountain top removal.

    First of all, mountaintop removal is not a safer way to mine coal. While individual miners put themselves endanger in a deep mine, surface mining spreads this danger to the entire community. In 2003, a rock blasted off a mountaintop removal site came crashing into bedroom of a three year old little boy in Virginia, killing him instantly. There have been a myriad of other cases of rocks crashing on homes. It is only a matter of time before another person is crushed.

    Contrary to popular belief, mountain top removal isn’t even safer for the miners. Proportionally, just as many miners die on MTR sites as underground. These deaths usually occur when someone is run over by a massive truck or a truck falls backward into a valley field.

    I also contend your claim that black lung has decreased. Black lung is just as prevelant as ever. Dust comes from strip-mined coal just as much as from underground coal. Furthermore, mountaintop removal causes an additional respiratory disease. Silica dust from blasted rock causes silicosis, which is reportedly more painful than pnuemonococcis.

    There is a direct correlation between proximity to an MTR site and respiratory problems, cancer rates, and not coincidentally, poverty.

    Mountaintop removal also increases flooding (even the DEP admits this).

    As for flat land and economic development, only 3% of land flatened by MTR is being developed. Let’s develop what we have before we discuss the need for more flat land. By the way, this is the mountain state.

    Finally, the topsoil returned to a mountain top removal site is no good. Only scrub brush can be grown in reclaimed areas (with LOTS of effort, a few oaks and hickories can be planted). Compare this with the lush vegetation that existed before the mining (you can read about it in my post “Wildlife in WV”.)

  4. Mr Roselles agenda seems clear with his past record. take a look at Seattle Wa. This guy likes likes to get it stirred up and then stand back and watch our children do his dirty work!

  5. I don’t think Mike is stirring up anything in WV.
    Mike didn’t come to WV and blast away ecosystems and communities. He isn’t poisoning people or devastating property values.

    Mike did not start this battle. He came to WV because he was asked to help by people fighting for their children’s future.

    He has already sacrificed himself three times by getting arrested to bring attention to this travesty.

  6. If mr Roselle was indeed invited here why are no local groups like ovec or crmw or their members publicy defending him. Seems nobody wants to take credit for the invitation. Could it be the ruckus ,earth first r. a. n. taint baggage he carries with him Lobagger indeed.

  7. Members of OHVEC and CRMW have publicly supported him. But the groups cannot formally advocate an act that breaks the law, even if the law needs to be broken. Most of the members of CRMW voted for the Mountain Party canidate, however the group did not formally endorse the candidate.

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