Now is the time for all good greens, rednecks, social entrepreneurs, hellraisers, Repower America and Al Gore to come to the aid of their fellow citizens in the Appalachian coalfields.
While Big Coal Gone Wild continues to unravel in its bizarre P.R. campaigns this summer, coalfield residents and advocates from around the country have been organizing one of the most important national campaigns to get our nation beyond coal, to launch clean energy jobs, to slow the grind of climate destabilization, and halt one of the most egregious human rights and environmental violations–mountaintop removal.
And they need your help. NOW.
The coalfields are in the throes of a state of emergency: Protesters have been met with violence, and saddled with reactionary and costly legal procedures. While 3 million pounds of ANFO explosives devastate the mountain communities and displace citizens every day, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has been wracked with scandal and embarrassing inaction; green job advocates desperately need national supporters and investors.
In a line: Whether you live (or are vacationing) in Martha’s Vineyard, Yellowstone National Park, Washington, D.C. or anywhere between San Francisco and Boston, you are probably using electricity generated by mountaintop removal coal, and ravaged coalfield residents now need your help to transition away from this abomination–and the help of Al Gore, Repower America, green job investors, lawyers, activists, educators and endowed supporters who can write a check for a defense fund. Here are a few ways to support coalfield residents and heroes, affect climate destabilization, and move our nation toward clean energy jobs:
The “Made in America” Tour Should Add Some Pit-Stops in the Coalfields
Last week, the Allliance for Climate Protection’s Repower America campaign, in partnership with the Blue Green Alliance and its labor and environmental partners, launched a fabulous nationwide Made in America Jobs tour, going to the frontlines in the industrial heartland to spotlight the “benefits to American workers and businesses of transitioning to a clean energy economy that will create millions of jobs.”
To go along with the 50 events in 22 states, it would be great if the Made in America tour could also add some events at ground zero in the battle to slow climate change and transition our country to clean energy–namely, the Appalachian and Midwestern coalfields.
Last year at the Netroots Nation gathering in July in Texas, Al Gore made it clear that coal miners should be in the forefront of the green jobs movement. He declared: “Mountaintop mining is an atrocity… We should guarantee a job and health and sunshine to every coal miner.”
Green Jobs administrator Van Jones, who is currently at work on green jobs in the coalfields, told PowerShift activists in Washington, D.C. on February 28 this year: “This movement also has to include the coal miners.” He added, “We could have clean coal, and we could have unicorns pull our cars for us.”
West Virginia was ranked by Forbes Magazine last year as the worst state for business. Mountaintop removal, in particular, has destroyed any diversified economy or economic development, and led to soaring poverty rates. According to the CAP report on Green Economic Recovery [PDF], West Virginia could net 12,149 jobs through a green economic recovery program and jumpstart its economy.
The Made in America Tour should visit the JOBS project in Mingo County, West Virginia, where coalfield residents have been meeting to discuss renewable energy options and manufacturing ideas, setting up the infrastructure for investment in a biomass plant and clean energy jobs, and have even sponsored an “Energy Independence Day” this summer.
Coalfield Uprising Supporters Need More Defense Funds
In their fourth day of protest, courageous tree-sitters have scaled massive trees in the lush Appalachian forests in West Virginia–a region where 1.2 million acres of deciduous hardwoods in our nation’s carbon sink have been clearcut and strip mined, and where one acre has more diversity than all of Europe’s forests combined–and halted the blasting near a Edwight mountaintop removal site, in order to protect local citizens from fly rock, silica and heavy metal blasting showers, and erosion and flooding. However, two of the ground supporters were arrested yesterday, and now sit in jail with a $1,000 bail tab.
One arrested supporter is Zoe Beavers, who stated, “I am on this mountain because I believe that every single West Virginian who is proud of being from ‘Almost Heaven’ should take a stand against mountaintop removal. I am here because DEP officials have failed to stop the blasting. I am putting my body and reputation on the line to do their job and stop the blasting. I served in our military so that we can all live in a country that does not exploit and destroy its land and people.”
Beavers graduated from Hurricane High School in June of 2000 and started basic training at Fort Jackson, SC in August of that year. During her five years of service, she was deployed in Iraq and Turkey and attained the rank of Sergeant.
On its own website, the West Va. DEP even admits it can’t maintain proper data collection, due to staff vacancies.
In the meantime, with both ground supporters arrested, the tree-sitters now need hundreds of ground supporters to come to their aid. To keep up on coalfield issues, visit Mountain Justice.
Daring Dragline Protesters Need Defense Funds, Too
On June 18th, 12 brave activists, along with two investigative journalists, did something no high level Obama administration official has done–they went to a mountaintop removal site in West Virginia, the Twilight Massey Energy site, which has displaced residents and depopulated the area. Four protesters also occupied a 20-story dragline. The 12 protesters and 2 journalists were arrested and some very serious charges of assault and trespassing have been handed out.
According to the supporters, “The journalists had their gear confiscated, media stolen out of cameras and as of today only one camera has been returned, damaged. All media and gear was loaded into the back of a Massey company truck by the Boone County Sheriffs office and then a Massey employee drove the gear to the Madison Court House.”
The protesters will return to court on September 3rd, and the four dragline activists are reportedly being charged with assault and facing 6 months in jail. According to the supporters, “This was a nonviolent protest, at no time did any of the protesters assault, physically or verbally, any of the miners.
A blog and film cliip on the action can been seen here.
And tell your member of Congress to support the Clean Water Protection Act
While your member of Congress is on vacation and back in the home district, now is the time to meet and greet and push them to support the Clean Water Protection Act, which will sharply reduce mountaintop removal coal mining, protect clean drinking water and the quality of life for Appalachian coalfield residents who face frequent catastrophic flooding and pollution or loss of drinking water as a result of mountaintop removal coal mining.
For more information, and a direct link to your member of Congress, go here.