The Fight Against MTR, Round-up #3

Looking for a way to fight mountaintop removal from home?  Here is your chance. Please take it!

According to Judy Bonds of Coal River Mountain Watch,

Here is an easy and safe way for you to help.
The coal industry is out-commenting us on articles via the internet.
We always thought that was our domain and strength but they have taken it over and they are bragging about their bloggers and commenters.

The strip-mining industry has created a “blogger’s brigade” to portray an artificially high-level of support for mountaintop removal. They are starting to drown out dissent with a flood of lies and propaganda. Without our comments to rebuke them, they may dupe the unitiated, silence politicians, and even sway the editorializing of media outlets.

If you come across a comment in a news source or a blog defending mountaintop removal or other coal industry abuses, it is really important that you take a few minutes and add your input. If you want to go the extra mile, OHVEC compiles a substantial list of links everyday. Just click on a few and comment. They may have the money but we have the truth!

Speaking of the truth, the good folks at Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) put together profiles for six Eastern Kentucky counties showing areas of mountaintop removal and quality of life statistics. It turns out, despite coal industry claims, that areas with the most mountaintop removal have the lowest life-quality values.

You can see the county profiles here: http://www.kftc.org/our-work/canary-project/campaigns/mtr/county-profiles

Of course, this isn’t news to citizens who have been battling the coal industry in Eastern Kentucky.  On February 17th, Kentuckians took the fight to the capital in Frankfurt. It was “I LOVE MOUNTAINS DAY” and hundreds (including the voluptuous actress Ashley Judd and author Silas House) rallied to demand an end to the travesty.  Here is a snippet from the article linked above:

Ivy Brashear, 22, of Viper, Ky. and a student at Eastern Kentucky University, said she grew up living “in a place where you have to look at these open wounds every day.” She called coal a “necessary evil,” but said extracting coal by mountaintop removal must end.

“It’s tearing up our heritage. It’s tearing up our culture. It’s tearing up an entire region and people who have always been so important to America,” Brashear said. “People should have more pride in their roots.”

Meanwhile, in the Coal River Valley, pro strip-mining forces have stepped up the intimidation on their opponents, probably in response to the recent civil disobedience. Coal River Mountain Watch is headquarted in tiny Whitesville, a town that was booming before strip-mining shut it down. The verdant mural on the headquarter’s wall is the only sign of life among the dreary rows of empty buildings. This mural has been vandalized twice in the last couple of weeks.

Here is the press release:

 
Whitesville, W.Va.—For the second time in less than two weeks, vandals defaced the Coal River Mountain Watch office in Whitesville, W.Va.  The night of February 3, vandals threw eggs at the office windows.  The night of February 14, they spray-painted bulldozers over the mountain mural that covers much of the building’s exterior. The mural was a bright spot in the center of a town now mostly run down, with several boarded-up storefronts.
 
“Since our regulatory agencies have effectively declared coal companies above the law, those who seek to destroy mountains, water, and communities have stepped up their effort to intimidate the citizens,” said Judy Bonds, Co-director of CRMW. “We had intended to update the mural anyway, so our artist is going to fix the vandalism and add windmills, people chained to the bulldozers and lyrics from John Prine’s song ‘Paradise.'”
 
“Vandalism only demonstrates the destructive tendencies of those who oppose our efforts to save our communities from mountaintop removal and bring sustainability, jobs and a more diverse economy to southern West Virginia” said Sarah Haltom, the artist of the mural. “Our opponents can no longer debate us on science and logic, so they are lashing out in immature ways. If they feel so strongly about our work, they should chain themselves to our office doors.”
 
“Market conditions create hundreds of layoffs in the coal industry, but when that happens, the coal association, the union, and the governor don’t breathe a word,” said Rory McIlmoil, Coal River Wind Project Coordinator. “But if a court rules to protect a stream and the neighboring community from annihilation, they hold a hate-fest rally and target local organizations as the focus of their criticism, rather than focus on the fact that coal is not a stable source of jobs. We’ve asked that they cut out the calls for intimidation, but apparently they’ve chosen to escalate them.”
 
“Evil deeds only strengthen the resolve of those who are willing to defend God’s creation,” said Bo Webb, CRMW volunteer. “We will not be silenced in our demands for justice.”
“While we support the right of groups such as Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience, Coal River Mountain Watch is a separate organization,” added Bonds.  “We think irresponsible coal companies are the eco-terrorists as they use 3 1/2 million pounds of explosives daily to blast the mountains above our homes, poison our water and demolish sustainable resources needed for communities’ survival.”
 
Coal River Mountain Watch reported both acts of vandalism to the West Virginia State Police and the Whitesville City Police, who responded and took statements and photos.

I will leave you with a letter Lorelie Scarbro, a leader of the Coal River Wind Project, wrote to the Beckley Register Herald. For reference: Byrd=octogenarian Senator Robert C. Byrd, an acquiescent supporter of MTR and former Klan member; Rahall=Nick Jo Rahall; and Rockefeller=Senator Jay Rockefeller, an ardent supporter of MTR.

Editor:
The legacy of Byrd, Rockefeller and Rahall is the death of people in the coalfields because of coal. I think we should stand on sidewalks in D.C. in front of their offices and read victims’ names aloud.
We can start with my husband. Politicians need to seek ways to offer job diversity so people we love can have good jobs and won’t have to die from byproducts of coal.
Why not seek money for a solar panel factory or a wind turbine factory in the coal fields? Why not try to find ways to get renewable energy in this area?  Why not see that coal is mined responsibly?
I have friends who are no longer with us because of ravages of coal companies. If you have ever watched the one you love die of black lung, you and I both know the true cost of coal.
Coal is king in West Virginia because they allow no alternative.
If it was your loved one that you watched slowly suffocate, wouldn’t you want to try to change this?  For those of you who work in the industry and spread the word about how wonderful coal is, this is what is in store for you. For those of you who are there because you have no alternative and are just trying to support your family in the best way you can, I am so sorry.
Lorelei Scarbro
Rock Creek

Thank you for reading.  Please help!

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6 Responses to “The Fight Against MTR, Round-up #3”

  1. I think if Ms Bonds would check she would discover that Interstate 64 was the culprit in Whitesvilles demise not! surface mining. On the subject of vandalism ,your invited guest Mr Roselle was once and in my opinion still is a strong proponet of the same, through MONKEYWRENCHING .PS I travelled daily through Whitesville in the 1970s when it was the very heart of union employment and it was pretty much dead then.

  2. Watcher,

    Interstate 64 has nothing to do with the demise of Whitesville. Towns like Whitesville are casualties of an industry that takes its money and runs when when the markets turn down. They are casualties of an industry that would rather mine coal from the surface because it doesn’t require a large labor force. They are casualties of an industry that for all intents and purposes busted the UMWA.

    Whitesville was never dependent on cars passing through. Neither were the HUNDREDS of other towns that are now all but gone. Towns like Blair, Ieager, Sharples, and Gary, which have always been far away from major traffic routes.

    On the flipside, Interstate 64 has increased traffic flow times 1000 to some towns destroyed by the coal industry, yet these towns remain hollow shells. Places like Mahan, Paint Creek and Cabin Creek.

    As for Roselle, I have discussed his activism elsewhere on this blog.

  3. ezlnwv Blair & Sharples were never incorporated towns, but were located on what used to be a major highway between so. w v and the capitol, a well used bus route and trucking route . Gary may not have been on a major road but I think that most of the coal processed in that huge plant was largely deep mined. Speaking of dead towns ,take a look at Detroit. Idont hear outrage over the use of robotics in the auto industry.As for Roselle Idont think I would discuss him either, with a 40 plus arrest record for “activism”.

  4. Detroit and other former factory cities on the rust belt do have something in common with towns in the coalfields: they are both victims of corporate greed.

    Mechanization of the auto industry was a huge blow but an even bigger blow was the exportation of jobs to Mexico. Mechanization of the coal industry was a huge blow but a MUCH larger blow was the emergence of mountaintop removal.

    The comparisons end there, however. Mountaintop removal does not only take away jobs, it makes communities uninhabitble. Property values go to nothing. People are enveloped by clouds of silica dust. Blasting cracks foundations, wells, and has even sent a boulder into the bedroom of a 3 year old boy who happened to be sleeping at the time. Acid mine drainage poisons water and wildlife. Dangerous coal trucks loom around every hairpin curve and tear up the road. I could go on.

    Mike Roselle has sacrificed his freedom to fight against a massive injustice. He has the stuff heroes are made of.

  5. Here we go again with the injustice of it all. Im so tired of the david & goliath compairson when when speaking of the coal industry. Oh the coal barrons, the coal barrons. These groups Mr Roselle either co-founded or represents, past or present, are at the least multimillion dollar (TAX EXEMPT) status groups. I believe Mr Roselles actions could jeprodize that status if he continues. The senate finnance committee hearings found that some groups were abusing their ( TAX EXEMPT ) status. Tha biggest abuse is deliberately and habitually breaking the law to engage in “so called” civil disobedience. These actions are intending to evoke images of Martin Luther Kings struggle but are nothing more than disruptive tactics ment to intimidate companies to adopt policies they favor. Civil disobedience is nothing more than illegal conduct . I think these coal companies should test the depth of the financial pockets of these groups in the civil court systeme.

  6. America was founded on civil disobedience. You think that throwing the tea into the harbor was perfectly legal?

    The greatest strides of progress in American history can be traced to civil disobedience. It was illegal for a slave to escape. It was illegal to give refuge to an escaped slave. It was illegal to speak against slavery in the South for some time.

    Ditto for the Labor Movement. Since it was illegal to go on strike, do you think the workers were wrong for striking to give their families a better future?

    I could go on.

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