March 2015 Update

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015
posted by finocchio
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Header image showing KD2 mine in Loudendale WV

RAMPS March 2015 Update

Radical Action For Mountains’ and People’s Survival

A dispatch from Whitesville in the southern coalfields of West Virginia

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Dear Friends and Allies,

It’s been quite a month here in southern West Virginia, with exploding crude oil trains, record-setting cold temperatures & snow, severe melting-induced floods, and the ongoing disaster that is mountaintop removal mining — and RAMPS is hard at work to support our communities in response to these extraction- and climate-change-driven crises.  As mines in the southern coalfields continue to close for economic reasons, and as our politicians continue to demonstrate how hopelessly out of touch they are, we’ve found more potential for our vision of revolutionary change through community power. Read on for updates on our projects — but first, some good news!

A victory against mountaintop removalImage showing meme from EQAT campaign - PNC Divests from MTR!

Great news this week from our friends at the Earth Quaker Action Team: PNC Bank has decided to stop funding MTR! Big thanks to you all, for years of hard work and direct action. As the coal industry continues its inevitable decline, and expanded Marcellus shale fracking, new fracked-gas pipelines, and new fracking in the Rogersville shale threaten central Appalachia, we’ve got to keep building people power and deploying it against these threats to our communities, our health, and the land we love.

Stories From South Central

The Stories project, formed over a year ago to support inmates poisoned during the Jan. 2014 chemical spill in Charleston, continues to provide wide-scale support for prisoners across the state. We operate and fund a jail support phone line, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. We have a growing pen pal program. (Want to join? Click here!) We’re continuing to visit prisoners in person, attend their trials, and provide access to other legal support. We’re excited that some of our friends who were inside South Central Regional Jail during the chemical spill have been released in 2015, and we’re working with several of them to hold the West Virginia Regional Jail Authority accountable for its negligence and malice. We’re planning to deliver our petition demanding human rights and safe water access in WV’s prisons and jails soon — so please sign it now if you haven’t yet!

Kanawha Forest Coalition

Image from Kanawha Forest Coalition community meeting at Kanawha Trails Club summer 2014We’ve had some good news and some bad news recently in the fight to stop the KD#2 strip mine, right next to Kanawha State Forest. The coalition recently lost a legal appeal that we filed with the state Surface Mine Board last June. (Somehow, we’re not surprised.) In better news, no logging or blasting has been done on the KD#2 site for over a month, and the mining company told the WV DEP that it intends to “idle” the mine indefinitely. We’re using this temporary respite to focus on outreach and education, including a series of Direct Action Movie Nights (DAMN!) in Charleston to build knowledge of the vital role that DA has played in earth and community defense movements.

 

WV Clean Water Hub continues!

The chemical spill of January 2014 is long over, but there’s a perpetual water crisis in the southern coalfields. Each of the recent incidents mentioned above (exploding oil trains, record cold, flooding, and MTR mining), combined with aging and poorly maintained water infrastructure, caused thousands of people to lose access to safe drinking water. Fourteen months on, RAMPS members with the WV Clean Water Hub are once again delivering emergency supplies of drinking water in Boone and Raleigh counties.

Image of a RAMPS member and one of our teenage neighbors splitting firewood togetherCommunity Engagement

The aspect of our work that has grown perhaps the most over the last few months is community engagement. Neighbor kids and adults are spending time with us in our office and headquarters in Whitesville — sharing food, sharing skills, studying, helping us work, or just hanging out — and this has bolstered our dreams of opening a community center. (Can you help us find grants and large donations? Drop us a line.) In the meantime, we’re planning more community activities for this summer, like a community garden, weekly movie night, and a program to get more bikes for kids.

 

Regional and Continental Anti-Extraction Organizing

Next week we’ll be participating in Mountain Justice Spring Break in southwestern Virginia and Shalefield Justice Spring Break in Centre County, Pennsylvania, giving presentations on our jail support organizing and more. Hope to see you there!

image of poster reading Not One Sacrifice ZoneIn the past few months RAMPS members have also been working with and participating in #BlackLivesMatter in Ferguson, MO, supporting Dineh resisters on Black Mesa, and taking part in Owe Aku’s Moccasins on the Ground — and bringing these stories and perspectives back to our communities in Appalachia. RAMPS members continue to shape and support the Extreme Energy Extraction Collaborative summits, including last month’s summit in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Get Involved!

If you’d like to support our work, the easiest way is by signing up as a sustaining, monthly donor. This enables us to focus less on fundraising and more on the work we love. We’re also planning a new round of speaking events at colleges and community groups — so if you’d like to divert some institutional funding toward the grassroots, and bring us to your town or school, get in touch!

For the Land and People,

–RAMPS

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