As winter returns to the Appalachian mountains, the slow but inevitable demise of the coal industry is clearer than ever. Alpha, Patriot, and Arch Coal are in bankruptcy or headed in that direction, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo add to the list of banks that are cutting some of their coal financing, and former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship may be about to face justice for his part in wreaking havoc on our communities.
We know that the decline of coal mining won’t suddenly fix years of exploitation and pollution — and the industry’s impact on the land and people of Appalachia will last much longer than the jobs it once provided. RAMPS is continuing our work to build community self-sufficiency and self-determination, and to connect local struggles with similar struggles in other parts of the world. Here’s what we’ve been up to!
Fall Summit 2015
Lots of locals, Appalachian organizers, and college students came together to camp at the beautiful Stanley Heirs park on Kayford Mountain to share and learn from each other. Despite the early first frost, we all had a great weekend. The highlight of the weekend for us was the youth panel where 6 local youth ages 11-16 told us all about the good, the bad, and the strange about growing up around here. Thanks to everyone who came out!
Youth Engagement Project
We’re still having a good time gathering wood with our young friends! We’ve been impressed with their hard work and developing skills both at splitting wood and with our new youth chainsaw. Thanks to everyone who donated to our fundraiser. As winter approaches, we’ve curtailed our root-gathering trips and we’re planning a youth video project and several workshops for the colder months. Oh, and if you live in the Coal River Valley and need firewood or know someone who does, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Kanawha Forest Coalition
The KD#2 mine outside Kanawha State Forest has been shut down for 10 months due to a pattern of violations and the company has been forced to begin “reclaiming” the 100 or so acres of the 413-acre permit that was mined last year. The coalition has been granted intervener status in the ongoing consent agreement process that could result in the permit being revoked or permanently stopped, although, as expected, this process has been tied up for months. RAMPS members and other volunteers are still regularly inspecting the mine for violations to bolster the case for closing the mine.
We’ve also been busy with a two-week-long pop-up gallery and community space in downtown Charleston. The Kanawha Forest Exposition is displaying drone footage of MTR sites; the Beehive Collective’s “True Cost of Coal” banner; the poster series “We Are The Storm”, which RAMPS is a part of along with 21 other groups organizing on the front lines of environmental destruction; and movie screenings including “Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Indigenous Resistance” and “This Changes Everything”.
“We Are Cove Point” Banner Drop
RAMPS activists provided support to our allies “We Are Cove Point” in their action dropping a banner during a “Monday Night Football” game calling on Bank of America to refuse continued financial support of Dominion Energy’s LNG export facility at Cove Point. The affinity group, including one member of RAMPS, faces multiple charges stemming from this action. For more information, please visit WeAreCovePoint.org and DumpDominion.org
As the WV Clean Water Hub, we continue to bring safe drinking water to residents of Prenter — an area beyond the reach of Charleston municipal water, where water wells were poisoned years ago by coal slurry injection. Similarly, our Stories From South Central project continues to support current inmates and organize with former prisoners, and we continue to use drones to film destruction and share stories of community self-sufficiency with the Appalachian Mountain Patrol.
As always, thanks to everyone for your continued support of our work. Our next email will be more exciting, we promise. If you have any questions, feedback, or words of encouragement, please email us.
For the land and people —