Tree Sit Halts the Blasting on Coal River Mountain

Cross Posted from Climate Ground Zero
Tree Sit Halts the Blasting on Coal River Mountain
Thursday, January 21st, 2010
posted by sophie

Contact: Kim Ellis – 304 854 7372
Note: and

“Coal River Mountain was the last mountain around here that hasn’t been touched and they could’ve been using it for windmills…But Massey wants to get that coal. It seems like they just don’t care about the populace. Just the land and their checkbook.”
– Richard Bradford

MARFORK, W.Va. – Protestors associated with Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice halted blasting on Coal River Mountain today with a three-person tree-sit.  David Aaron Smith, 23, Amber Nitchman, 19 and Eric Blevins, 28 are on platforms approximately 60 feet up two tulip poplar trees and one oak tree.  They are located next to where Massey Energy is blasting to build an access road to the Brushy Fork Impoundment on its Bee Tree Strip Mine.  Their banners state: “Save Coal River Mtn.,” “EPA Stop the Blasting” and “Windmills Not Toxic Spills.”

“Massey Energy is a criminal corporation with over 4,500 documented violations of the Clean Water Act, yet the government has given them permission to blast next to a dam full of toxic coal waste that will kill 998 people if it fails.” said Blevins. This action comes at the heels of a rigorously peer-reviewed study published in Science Magazine which states “Mining permits are being issued despite the preponderance of scientific evidence that impacts are pervasive and irreversible and that mitigation cannot compensate for the losses.”

The sitters are calling for the EPA to put an end to mountaintop removal and encourage the land-holding companies to develop clean energy production.  The lack of EPA enforcement in mountaintop removal encouraged Josh Graupera, 19, member of the support team, to take part in this action “I knew that until I took an active role in the struggle to end MTR, I was passively condoning the poisoning and displacement of countless communities and in the obliteration of one of the oldest and most diverse ecosystems on this continent.” Graupera said. Nitchman added, “I act out of personal concern for the safety of water from toxic sludge, air from smog, and mountains from annihilation.”

The Brushy Fork Impoundment is permitted to contain over nine billion gallons of the toxic coal waste, and currently contains 8.2 billion gallons.  Brushy Fork’s foundation is built on a honeycomb of abandoned underground mines. If the foundation were to collapse the slurry would blow out from all sides of the mountain.   According to Marfork Coal Co.’s emergency warning plan regarding the impoundment, in case of a frontal dam breach, a 40 ft wall of sludge, 72 ft at its peak height, would engulf communities as far as 14 miles away.

“Brushy Fork sludge dam places the downstream communities in imminent danger. The threat of being inundated by a wall of toxic sludge is always present.  Blasting next to this dam increases the risk as well as destroying the opportunity for renewable wind energy,” said Coal River Mountain Watch’s Vernon Haltom. According to the Coal River Wind Project, the wind energy produced by a turbine farm on Coal River Mountain could power 70,000 homes, provide more permanent jobs for local residents and annually bring over a million more dollars in tax breaks revenue to Raleigh County than coal currently does.

The sitters plan to remain in the trees as long as it takes to stop blasting on Coal River Mountain. Climate Ground Zero’s action campaign, begun in February of last year, has kept up a sustained series of direct actions since that time continuing decades-long resistance to strip mining in Appalachia.


Coal River Valley Residents Demand Prevention of Blasting Coal River Mountain

save the kidsCoal River Valley Residents Demand Prevention of Blasting Coal River Mountain

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – At noon seven people will deliver a letter of concerns and personal statements regarding Massey Energy’s imminent mountaintop removal coal mining on Coal River Mountain to Joe Manchin at the West Virginia Governor’s Mansion. The deliverers have stated that they will refuse to leave until the letter is received and Manchin agrees to the community’s demands. The letter is signed by 13 residents of the Coal River Valley, at least four of whom will be present at today’s event.

The seven citizens to deliver the document are associated with Mountain Justice and Climate Ground Zero. In addition to Manchin, Coal River Valley residents are sending the document to the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Surface Mining, Mining Safety and Health Administation, WV Department of Environmental Protection, Post-mine Land Use Committee of the W.Va. State Government, Representative Nick Rahall, Senator Jay Rockefeller, Senator Robert Byrd and President Obama. Continue reading

Video: 60 Minutes on TVA Spill and Coal Ash

60 Minutes on TVA Kingston Spill and Coal Ash

This is a great piece by 60 Minutes and Leslie Stahl – must see – lots of fumbling and stumbling by TVA officials, 60 Minutes absolutely hammers Dominion Power for building a golf course with coal ash underneath.

United Mountain Defense and Matt’s video of the dog eating the dead fish after the TVA spill is included – as well as Donnna Lisenby and John Wathen’s amazing canoe trip around the ashbergs – thanks to all who helped on this – check it out

Dave Cooper

Dendron, Va chooses its own future.

Cross-posted from the CCAN Blog

Dendron, Virginia, has more than its share of challenges. The community of around 300, located in the southern corner of Surry County, struggles with an outdated municipal water system, crumbling sidewalks and no major businesses within the town.

Prior to the Great Depression, Dendron had been a company town of more than 3,000, fueled by the lumber industry’s presence there. Private business thrived in a town that revolved around the processing and export of timber across the country. Despite its character as an industrial one-trick-pony, the town of Dendron had something to stand for, and an industry to be proud of.

Today’s Dendron little resembles that historic vision of the 1900’s boomtown. Largely forgotten by the industry that once supported a thriving community, and facing serious municipal and community problems, such as an unexpected $10,000 water bill, you’d think the small town would take anything at this point to give it an economic boost.

The Old Dominion Electric Cooperative assumed this to be true when executives within the cooperative approached Dendronites with a plan for a new 1,500-megawatt coal-fired power plant, the second largest of its kind in Virginia. ODEC presented the Cypress Creek project with the promise of new jobs, tax revenue, and the idea that one major industry would bring others to the cash-strapped community. Despite local environmental effects and immediate hazards to human health, ODEC worked to assure Dendron residents that they stood to benefit from such a plant’s construction. ODEC also assumed that they’d buy into it without any major hiccups.

The cooperative, which has endlessly dispelled misinformation concerning the proposed plant (see Hope for Surry Shines through smog, 3 June), encountered a major hiccup Monday evening. As the Dendron Town Council met for its second meeting to deliberate the adoption of an ordinance that would allow the coal-friendly county board of supervisors to assume the community’s zoning rights, tensions – and temperatures – began to rise in the small side room of the Dendron Volunteer Fire Department, the only building large enough to host the crowd of more than 100. Fans reading, “NO COAL PLANT,” undulated throughout, filling the room as it quickly approached capacity, and Mayor Yvonne Pierce called the meeting to order.

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Underground Coal Gasification

Just saw this come across the interwebs. WTF? Mine coal by infecting it with a bacteria that belches natural gas. my interest is peaked.

BNET Energy

A Microbe That Could Keep Coal in the Ground

By Chris Morrison | June 29th, 2009 @ 1:47 am

Craig Venter, already famous as the first person to completely map his own DNA, now claims to be working with British oil giant BP on bacteria that can break down coal into methane, making it cleaner and removing the need for mining. Using modified bacteria, coal miners could presumably just "infect" a coal seam, harvesting the resulting natural gas as it seeped upward through the ground.

Venter announced his discovery of the coal-eating bacteria this weekend, and the Times of London, along with other sources, promptly reported it as something entirely new. Like most things under the sun, it's not. A startup called Luca Technologies, for instance, was funded with $76 million last year for the same idea, though the specific bacteria Luca uses are probably different.

The bacterial approach itself is only part of a larger concept called "underground coal gasification" (UGC). Companies and governments around the world are looking at UGC as a way to avoid sending miners underground, which often results in deaths. UGC can't come fast enough for places like Utah, for instance, where a mining accident two years ago left nine dead and is today leading to tougher, more expensive regulation on the industry.

The more typical method of UGC, practiced by companies like Laurus Energy, is creating a controlled burn along a coal seam, allowing a utility to harvest heat energy and methane without ever extracting the coal. Projects of this sort are further along than using microorganisms to break down the coal.

Neither method is well tested, so for the moment we're still mining and burning coal the usual way. The technology for doing that, from boring holes and collecting the coal to transporting to coal-burning plants, has been perfected over decades, so it's not likely that UGC will be a competitor on price alone for some time.

Later, the balance may shift toward UGC. Using microbes is promising because it's possible that the bacteria in question are already well-optimized by nature to convert coal to methane. It's not clear where all naturally-occuring natural gas comes from, but at least some might be the remnants of coal eaten by microorganisms. Assuming that process could be sped up a bit, coal miners could have a cheap new extraction method on hand.

The question is how long it will take. My guess is that UGC will become important sooner rather than later. Pressure from environmentalists to stop building traditional coal-burning plants is growing, and new technologies like carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) will only raise prices for coal plants.

Coal itself, on the other hand, won't change: Environmentalists can't force its energy potential to go away. All that's needed is a new way to tap into that value.

Correction: An earlier version of this post suggested that GreatPoint Energy is involved in UGC. The company does not work with coal underground. Instead, it applies catalysts to coal, biomass and other materials to produce methane in a process called hydromethanation.


Chris Morrison, a reporter on energy, renewables and climate change, is the former lead cleantech writer for VentureBeat.

Email Chris Morrison or follow him on Twitter

Posted via email from The Small Axe

Activists Drape 25-Foot Banner On EPA Building, Call on EPA to Stop Mountaintop Removal Mining

Original Post and more pictures

BOSTON, MA – Activists with Rising Tide draped a 25-foot banner reading, “Mountain Top Removal Kills Communities: EPA No New Permits.” on 1 North Congress St., at the intersection of2a

New Chardon Street and Congress Street, at the downtown offices of the Environmental Protection Agency this morning. The group is urging the agency to block over 150 pending permits for mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia.

“Mountaintop removal is destroying our nation’s most diverse forests and historic communities,” said Alex Johnston, a Rising Tide activist. “President Obama and the EPA need to take immediate action to stop the bulldozers from destroying America’s oldest mountains and Appalachians homes.”

This act of peaceful protest comes just days after top NASA climate scientist, James Hansen, actress Darryl Hannah, and 29 others were arrested as they protested mountaintop removal mining in southern West Virginia.2 On June 18, 14 concerned citizens entered onto Massey Energy’s mountaintop removal mine site near Twilight, WV. Four of them scaled a 150-foot dragline and unfurled a 15×150 foot banner that said, “Stop Mountaintop Removal Mining”, while nine others deployed a 20×40 foot banner on the ground at the site which read,”Stop Mountaintop Removal: Clean Energy Now.”

Continue reading