Archive for July, 2011


Sunday, July 31st, 2011
posted by admin

We are on Day 12 of a tree sit on Coal River Mountain, thanks to all of us!

RAMPS would like to send a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us in a myriad of ways.  So many folks have given us their time, words, thoughts, money, and material goods to make sure we can keep doing the work we need to do! Each act of support – from lending a hand cooking and washing dishes to sending encouraging words or supplies from afar- creates an atmosphere of camaraderie that makes this work possible.  The incredible amount of support that we receive from all over the country continues to build an ever growing network of informed people working to save the land and the people of Appalachia.


We welcome folks to come and join us in the mountains of West Virginia!  If your interested in coming to help support this action, please get in touch with us!

Also, join us on Facebook and sign up for our email list.

A thank you and an ask…

Sunday, July 31st, 2011
posted by glen

We would like to say a big thank you to K-Tor LLC for donating two of their Pocket Socket hand-powered power stations! These will ensure that  future sitters and blockaders will not have to rely on a limited battery supply to use cell phones and cameras, a very important part of their safety net! Thanks again K-Tor!

Check out K-Tor’s website and see the interesting stuff K-Tor is doing to harness bio-mechanical energy.

K-TOR, Green Power, Anywhere, Anytime!


Hey… donating much needed gear instead of money? That is a great idea! Take a look at our gear needs list and see if there is anything that you could part with that would help us continue the fight!

 Click here for our Gear Needs List!


Tree Sit on Coal River Mountain: Day Ten Update

Friday, July 29th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

Day Ten of Coal River Mountain Tree Sit

As of today, the tree-sit on Coal River Mountain has become the longest tree-sit in West Virginia history. Becks Kolins and Catherine Ann MacDougal have been in their trees for ten days and are determined to remain, despite the extreme heat and bugs.

Although the tree-sit itself has fortunately remained safe and relatively un-eventful, much has happened in the past 10 days: the EPA released its guidance on valley fills (which will not stop strip mining), a new health study was published strengthening the link between mountaintop removal mining and cancer in nearby communities, native West Virginian Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in jail for saving tens of thousands of acres of public land from oil and gas exploitation, and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection announced the date of the public hearing on the Bee Tree permit where the tree-sit is occurring. These events all underscore the urgency of the tree-sitters message to stop strip mining Coal River Mountain and end strip mining in the Coal River watershed.

The sit has successfully halted blasting on the site, aside from a small blast last Friday afternoon. Until this past Wednesday, trucks were still hauling coal that had previously been extracted and stockpiled; now, even this work has ceased.

Support the tree sit! Submit a comment to the Department of Environmental Protection opposing the Bee Tree Permit Renewal and/or donate to the RAMPS Campaign!


Still Time to Oppose the Bee Tree Permit Renewal!

Friday, July 29th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia
Submit Comments to Stop the Bee Tree Permit Renewal and protect Coal River Mountain 

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection just announced a public hearing on the renewal of the Bee Tree permit, where Becks and Catherine-Ann have been sitting in trees since last Wednesday.  Please show your support for the tree sitters by sending a comment to the DEP by August 9th, urging them not to renew this permit.

The Bee Tree permit encompasses 1000 acres in the upper Coal River Watershed. State and regulatory agencies have failed to address the concerns of citizens regarding this permit or properly assess the cumulative impacts the Bee Tree permit will have on the Coal River Watershed.

If you are local, come to the public hearing on August 9th at 7pm at the Raleigh-Boone Technical Center in Pettus, WV (just south of Whitesville on Rt. 3).

Another proposed mountaintop removal permit on Coal River Mountain is making its way through the regulatory process. The Collins Fork Remediation Project, an 830-acre mountaintop removal site on the eastern side of Coal River Mountain, is expected to come to public hearing later this summer.  Stay tuned for more information!

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.


Higher Cancer Rates Near Mountaintop Removal Sites

Thursday, July 28th, 2011
posted by admin

A study released this week in the Journal of Community Health provides yet more evidence linking mountaintop removal mining to severe health impacts.

The study, “Self-Reported Cancer Rates in Two Rural Areas of West Virginia with and Without Mountaintop Coal Mining,” was based on door-to-door interviews conducted in the Coal River Valley (has Mountaintop Removal) and in Pocahontas County (does not have Mountaintop Removal.)

The Study found that people in the Coal River Valley were twice as likely to have had cancer as people surveyed in Pocahontas County. This was after controlling for age, sex, smoking, occupation, and family cancer history. The authors note that many of the chemicals found in coal and used in coal processing are carcinogenic; in addition, diesel exhaust from mining sites, coal processing, and coal trucking also contributes to cancer risk.

Recap of the Tree Sit So Far

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

Becks and Catherine-Ann have been in their trees for a full week and one day now.  They have weathered severe heat, thunderstorms, and biting insects, but they remain resolute and in high spirits.  They are determined to remain in the trees for as long as they can.  They have succeeded in halting most work and blasting on the portion of the Bee Tree strip mine within Bee Tree hollow.  Little work has continued on other parts of the site, and only one small blast was set off this past week – on Friday afternoon.  The small blast occurred approximately 2010 feet from the sitters, which is outside of the MSHA required 1500 foot blast evacuation radius for strip mine workers.

Click for Full Sized Map

The already-charged blast holes may have been more of a security concern than the blast itself.  The sitters were not harmed by the blast, and we are monitoring the situation to ensure that the safety of the sitters is maintained.  No blasts since then have been seen or heard by the tree-sitters, and they are hearing very little work being done near the Bee Tree holler of the surface mine.

Junior Walk, who was arrested earlier this week for providing direct supporter to the sitters, said today, “The sitters are courageous for stopping the dangerous blasts that are making families sick and contaminating our water, air, and environment in the Coal River Watershed everyday.”
Check out this more indepth video with the tree-sitters and their direct supporters explaining their perspectives on the action and what is at stake:


Tree-Sit Halting Blasting on Coal River Mountain Enters Eighth Day

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

Sitters Call for End of Strip Mining in Coal River Watershed

Marfork, W.Va. – Catherine-Ann MacDougal and Becks Kolins, two protesters associated with the RAMPS Campaign, continue to occupy trees on the Bee Tree surface mine, where they have been stopping work on the mine site since last Wednesday. Their direct supporters, Elias Schewel and Junior Walk, were arrested on the site on the first day of the tree-sit, charged with trespassing and released on bail of $1000 each that evening.

The RAMPS Campaign is calling for an end to strip mining in the Coal River watershed because of the devastating cumulative effects of mining on drinking water, residents’ health, cultural resources, and air quality. The tree sitters issued an open letter to Alpha Natural Resources yesterday, demanding an end to strip mining on Coal River Mountain.

Junior Walk, a lifelong resident of the Coal River Valley, recalls childhood hiking and hunting grounds and entire towns that have been destroyed by mining. Packsville, W.Va., the hometown of the late anti-strip-mining activist Judy Bonds, is one such town; residents were driven out by the increasingly severe impacts of mining on their water supply, air, and quality of life. (1) “We’re all standing in solidarity with the forgotten town of Packsville – now only remembered as Marfork, where we’re not allowed to go anymore, as well as every other town and every other person the coal company has murdered,” said Walk, referring to the documented connections between mountaintop removal mining and serious health concerns, including elevated cancer rates and birth defects. (2)


Open Letter to Alpha Natural Resources

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

The following open letter from the tree sitters (Catherine-Ann MacDougal and Becks Kolins) and their ground support (Elias Schewel and Junior Walk) is part of an ongoing dialogue between the RAMPS Campaign, local residents, and Alpha Natural Resources.  Two months ago, the RAMPS Campaign organized a meeting between eight local residents,  including Junior, and Alpha executives to discuss local residents’ concerns with their impending takeover of Massey Energy and specific steps that Alpha could take to reduce the impact of mining on their communities.   Today’s open letter is a continuation of this ongoing conversation and a response to Alpha’s failure to take decisive action to address community concerns.
Kevin Crutchfield, CEO
Alpha Natural Resources
One Alpha Place, P.O. Box 2345
Abingdon, VA 24212

Dear Mr Crutchfield,

We are currently halting blasting on a portion of your Bee Tree Surface mine on Coal River Mountain. Starting last Wednesday, two of us have been sitting on platforms approximately 80 feet off the ground in trees within 300 feet of active blasting on the mine.   We are doing this to demand that Alpha Natural Resources stop strip mining on Coal River Mountain, and only after presenting our concerns through face-to-face meetings.

Who are the Outside Agitators?

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

Post-arrest statement of Elias Schewel

mugshot for trespassing on Bee Tree Surface mine

I have had the chance to recuperate after our hike in, set up and eventual arrest and now want to broadcast some of my initial reflections from the experience.

Junior and I were out of water and food, and the sweltering heat meant that we were drinking water meant for the sitters. We had spent many hours on the site the night before getting things set up. Four hours after the Office of Surface Mining was called and work on the site was halted, we eventually decided to reveal ourselves. After hiking over some sediment ponds and up a road we were eventually met by the occupants of the helicopter that had been circling above us.  Three men in golf shirts and loafers stepped out of the helicopter, and were quickly attended by mine security staff. Mine security took our hiking packs and took us back to show “Big Mike,” head of mine security, and the well-dressed men who accompanied him exactly where the treesitters were. After a walk and talk with them, we sat and waited for the police to arrest us and take us away.