In pursuit of the funders who are coughing up the capital for Mountaintop Removal in West Virginia, the RAMPs Campaign travelled north to Stamford, CT. RAMPS teamed up with Hands Off Appalachia for their fall action camp because we recognize that the coal companies couldn’t tear down the mountains here in West Virginia if they didn’t have financers like UBS backing them.
Two of those arrested, Kyle and David, remain in the Bridgeport correctional facility.
More Details on this action are in the press release below.
Stamford, CT – Early this morning, three activists hung a huge banner reading “UBS. Stop Funding Mountaintop Removal” off of a crane constructing the 66 Summers St building in downtown Stamford. Later in the day two activists entered the UBS headquarters in Stamford, locking themselves to a bannister and hanging a banner reading “UBS. Divest from Mountaintop Removal”, while others locked themselves to the outside doors of the building. The protests are a part of the Hands Off Appalachia, a sustained campaign to get UBS to end all financing of companies conducting mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia.
“Over the last two years, I have visited UBS’s offices over 30 times pleading with them to stop the destruction of Appalachian communities. Today, I’m not asking anymore. I’m demanding an end to UBS’s financing of mountaintop removal.” said Ricki Draper of Knoxville, TN who is locked inside the UBS headquarters.
Mountaintop removal is an extreme form of strip-mining in which coal companies blast up to a thousand feet off the top of a mountain to extract thin seams of coal. The resulting rubble is often placed in the valley below burying headwater streams. Over 1 million acres of forest in Central Appalachia have been destroyed and over 2,000 miles of streams have been buried by this practice. Recent research has linked mountaintop removal to increased rates of cancer, birth defects and cardiovascular disease in communities near these mining operations. UBS is a top funder of companies that conduct mountaintop removal such as Alpha Natural Resources, Patriot Coal, and Arch Coal. On Friday, organizers with Hands Off Appalachia met with UBS executives at their office in Stamford to discuss UBS’s existing policy on mountaintop removal.
“[At the meeting] I was ‘reassured’ [by UBS executives] that UBS’s policy on mountaintop removal was sufficient enough to protect my people. I wholeheartedly disagree. The reality is that their ‘policy’ is nothing more than an excuse to remove themselves from the truth that as UBS profits, my people suffer,” said Adam Hall of Glen Daniel, W.Va. who blocked the entrance to UBS’s headquarters today.
UBS’s existing policy claims to “recognize the potential environmental, social, and human rights impacts of this industry sector” and take into consideration “concerns of stakeholder groups”, but UBS officials have never travelled to Appalachia to witness the impacts or met with impacted community members until last Friday. The policy also claims to take into account regulatory compliance, but UBS financed Massey Energy and oversaw their merger with Alpha Natural Resources even after Massey was fined $20 million by the EPA for over 4,600 violations of the Clean Water Act.
Started in Knoxville, TN, the Hands Off Appalachia Campaign has spent two years engaging with UBS about their funding of the destruction of Appalachian through this extreme form of strip mining. HOA has organized dozens of actions and protests at local UBS offices all over Appalachia and the Southeast.
This summer, HOA escalated their campaign against UBS when three organizers blocked the entrance to the Knoxville UBS branch, the point of inception for the campaign. This action was the thirty third time in sixteen months that campaign organizers had visited that office. On the heels of that action followed a blockade at UBS’ North American Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. There, four organizers with Hands Off Appalachia and Capitalism vs. the Climate, a climate justice direct action group based in Connecticut, took a stand against UBS in solidarity with communities in Appalachia. This action launched the northeast leg of our campaign against UBS. Yesterday, activists with the campaign picketed UBS’s Parade Spectacular in Stamford, handing out leaflets and displaying a large banner reading “UBS Stop Funding Mountaintop Removal.”
Hands Off Appalachia is proud to present the Fall Action Camp in Connecticut [UBS America's Headquarters] November 19-25.
The camp will build organizing capacity and leadership skills among anti-extraction activists in the northeast. After all the hard work and learning, we’ll put our new skills into practice with a culminating action!
Expect a week of collaboration and workshops such as:
Hands off Appalachia is an urban-based campaign that targets the funding of mountaintop removal.
by david Just to clear up any possible confusion, I thought I might write a brief note explaining some of the circumstances surrounding my recent stay and release from South Central Regional Jail. I was arrested on August 21 for locking to a barrel of ‘dirty water’ in front of the governor’s mansion in Charleston, […]
UPDATE 9/19: David was released from jail today! After one month in jail, David was released on “personal recognizance” (without bail) and came home to celebrate with a big meal and a lot of snacks. While we’ve missed David during this REALLY long jail stint, one really important thing came out of David’s time there: inmates […]
Join us in West Virginia for a weekend of workshops and trainings about mountain top removal coal mining. Following the weekend there will be intensive sessions, including direct action and community service projects, for people who are interested in spending more time working in the Appalachian region. Click here to sign up for the 2013 […]
Sitting on a slurry impoundment is terrifying. We wore Tyvec suits, respirators, and rubber gloves to protect us from the 2.8 billion gallons of toxic coal slurry which, according to the Sludge Safety project, can cause “intestinal lesions, neuropathy, kidney and liver failure, cancer, high blood pressure, brittle bones, miscarriages and birth defects.” Today, as we confronted Alpha […]