RAMPS Mountain Mobilization Halts Largest Strip Mine in West Virginia

(via mountainjustice.org)

More than 50 protesters affiliated with the R.A.M.P.S. Campaign have walked onto Patriot Coal’s Hobet mine and shut it down.  Ten people locked to a rock truck, boarded it and dropped banners: “Coal Leaves, Cancer Stays.”  At least three have been arrested, with another in a tree being threatened by miners with a chain saw.  Earlier in the day, two people were arrested at Kanawha State Forest before a group of protesters headed to the state capitol.

“The government has aided and abetted the coal industry in evading environmental and mine safety regulations. We are here today to demand that the government and coal industry end strip mining, repay their debt to Appalachia, and secure a just transition for this region,” Dustin Steele of Matewan, W.Va. said.  Steele was one of the people locked to the rock truck.

Mounting scientific evidence shows that strip mining negatively impacts community health and miner health.   Recent studies have found a 42 percent increase in risk of birth defects around strip mines, and miners who spend at least 20 years as strip-mine drillers have a 61 percent chance of contracting silicosis, a virulent form of black lung.  “The coal companies are poisoning our water and air, and they’re treating the workers no better than the land – fighting workplace health and safety protections to get the most out of labor as they can,” said Junior Walk of Whitesville, W.Va.

As coal production declines, protesters are concerned that the region will be left with only illness and environmental devastation as the industry pulls out of the region and companies file for bankruptcy to shed legacy costs.

Patriot Coal is currently going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in which union contracts and pensions could be on the chopping block.  Both UMWA pensions and the state’s Special Reclamation Fund are funded through a per-ton tax on coal.  With Central Appalachian coal production in the middle of a projected six-year, 50 percent decline, this funding stream is increasingly unsustainable.  Protesters are calling on the coal industry and government to ensure that funding is available both to honor commitments to retired workers and to restore the land.

“Coal companies must employ their surface mine workers in reclaiming all disturbed land to the highest standards.  Instead of arguing about the ‘war on coal,’ political leaders should immediately allocate funds to retrain and re-employ laid off miners to secure a healthy future for the families of this region,” said R.A.M.P.S. spokesperson Mathew Louis-Rosenberg.

Appalachian communities, from union miners to the anti-strip mining activists of the 1960s, have a proud history of confronting the coal industry and demanding an end to its exploitive practices with direct civil disobedience. R.A.M.P.S. and other campaigns have returned to this tradition to eliminate strip mining once and for all. Since its founding in 2011, R.A.M.P.S. has organized a range of actions, from tree-sits to blockades of coal trucks.

Today’s protesters are among the hundreds of people across the country who are joining this summer’s National Uprising Against Extraction, using radical tactics to fight oppressive extractive industries and demand a transition to a sustainable economy.

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One thought on “RAMPS Mountain Mobilization Halts Largest Strip Mine in West Virginia

  1. Dear Fellow Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Ohio, August 18, 2012
    and to the members of Ohio Fracktion,

    I recently moved to Athens, Ohio to finish my Teaching degree at Ohio University. I moved from Springfield, Ohio where I conducted research on West Bay Exploration, a Michigan Oil and Gas exploration company with a record of intentionally contaminating an entire aquifer in Michigan in the 1980’s. ODNR gave them a permit to drill a test well outside of the environmentally pristine Yellow Springs, Ohio (home of Glen Helen Nature Preserve and Antioch College).
    While the Yellow Springs, Ohio lease does not permit fracking or deep well injection, I believe that ODNR would have no problem permitting such a well.
    This is where it gets good, ODNR as well as all regulatory agencies are required to employ (BAT) Best Available Technology to inspect the wells that they permit. They are also required to inspect shipping documents to ascertain that the chemicals disposed of in deep well injection wells are not at risk of ignition, explosion, etc. This requires a lab sample to be submitted to a certified lab under regulation by the State of Ohio. A majority of these documents (lab sample documents) are fabricated/falsified by the lab or by the shipper as a result of “batch mixing” by Solvent Resource Recovery companies. This is where I might be able to get the permit killed. Said lab report is a public document under Ohio’s Public Records Act.
    I would love to meet with your group to brainstorm what needs to be done to change the scenario in Ohio concerning the Oil and Gas industry regulations being removed from the authority of the ODNR and placed in the hands of my friends at the OEPA who will be responsible for the cleanup of any environmental contamination caused by any of these wells.
    As for the recent spill of a thousand gallons of Hazardous Waste at a well, please forward the information to me ASAP so I can verify that the matter was properly handled by the OEPA.

    Mark Winkle
    Financial, Environmental, and Legal Research
    Consultant- Consultant One (Since 1985)
    Adhoc Consultant on the European Union Financial Crisis (Since July 2011)
    Cell Phone: 937-926-2198

    P.S. I drafted the Hazardous Waste Health Survey that was in the movie “Erin Brockovich” and has been used as a legal baseline since it’s use in the 1990’s against Dow Chemical in Kettleman Hills, California out of which came the movie. The (HWHS) was donated to the Environmental Defense Fund to further assist them in multiple citizen class action lawsuits.

    References: winklepublishing.blogspot.com (my current blog).
    Megan Fox Yellow Springs News, Yellow Springs, Ohio
    Real Money From Pocket Change podcast on ITunes

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