What does it really mean to generate cheap energy at home?

Thursday, July 28th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia
The following open letter was written by Elias Schewel, who was arrested providing ground support to the tree sitters.  

Dear Activists,

My name is Elias Schewel and I am writing to you from the West Virginia coalfields. Right now we have two people up in trees over the Bee Tree Surface Mine, working to halt blasting. We are now wrapping up day 9.   This is an active mountaintop removal site on Coal River Mountain, the last largely-intact mountain in the entire Coal River watershed.  Blasting that happens at this site happens next to the Brushy Fork Impoundment, which holds up to 6 billion gallons of coal slurry up above the valley.

I am not from WV – I am from Philadelphia originally, and am currently a graduate student at the University of Michigan. What I have seen since I came down here has prompted me to act in much more direct and radical ways. The state Department of Environmental Protection is completely corrupt and beholden to the coal companies. I am here to study how federal laws that manage how public water supplies are implemented here. They are not. Coal slurry from new sites is pumped directly into the mountain again. It enters families’ wells, and municipal drinking supplies. Where are the regulatory agencies? Whole sections of permit and applications regarding the cumulative hydrological impacts of mining are left blank.

The federal Office of Surface Mining and the EPA are largely unable to do anything. I think this is an important part of the national story – if we allow deregulation of industry to continue and continue and continue we will all end up sick and poisoned by corporate interests like the people of West Virginia have been for years. Deregulation and new austerity measures threaten public health and well-being across the nation. Now that “fracking” is being proposed in a group of states it is even more possible that this environmental destruction is coming to the homes of suburban and urban, middle and upper class America. Before it was only the poor and invisible affected by mineral extraction. Now, it can happen to anyone as NYC, Philadelphia and Columbus, OH are figuring out.

There’s another important message for all Americans to take away from what is going on the coal fields: we need to move quickly to renewables because what makes American energy extraction economical is the wholesale ruination of the public health and environment. For years we have ruined other poorer and darker corners of the world extracting minerals and fossil fuels. Now, for security reasons, we hear across the political spectrum that we need to extract here at home. This means ruining our own environment and lives here at home, instead of in some other part of the world. Both are wrong, and the former can be a hard political sell *if we make sure Americans know* what generating cheap energy at home means. It means we’re going to start treating our own citizens the way we’ve been treating people in developing countries for years.

Please, help us spread this message, or get involved locally, come to the valley or donate.

Elias Schewel

What’s your connection to mountaintop removal?

2 Responses to “What does it really mean to generate cheap energy at home?”

  1. […] more ground support people have been arrested, the tree sitters are still holding out and calling for end of strip mining in Coal River […]

  2. […] more ground support people have been arrested, the tree sitters are still holding out and calling for end of strip mining in Coal River […]

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