Archive for July, 2011

From the Mountains of West Virginia to the Canyons of Utah

Monday, July 25th, 2011
posted by rampscampaign57

As we hit the one week mark of the tree sit on Coal River Mountain, the RAMPS campaign stands in solidarity with Tim DeChristopher!  He faces sentencing on the 26th of July at the Salt Lake City federal courthouse on two  felony counts for peacefully disrupting an oil and gas lease auction, an act of civil disobedience.

UPDATE:  Tim was sentanced to 2 years in federal prison and $10,000.  He was taken into custody immediately.

Jail Support is essential! letter writing is fun!

Tim DeChristopher (Booking Number) (201106916)
Davis County Correctional Facility
P. O. Box 130 Farmington, UT 84025

On December 19th 2008, Tim Dechristopher walked into the auction and was asked if he would like to bid.  He took bidder paddle No. 70 and proceeded to outbid oil and gas companies, by “buying” drilling rights to over 22,ooo acres of land for 1.7 million dollars before being stopped by a federal agent.  Tim’s action effectively saved most of the public lands up for auction from oil and gas drilling, as the incoming Obama administration subsequently declared three-quarters of the parcels that had been up for bid as unsuitable for drilling.  During his trial, Tim was never allowed to tell the jury about the illegitimacy of the auction or about his attempts to raise the funds to pay for the land he had won. Furthermore, he was strictly forbidden from even mentioning climate change and the moral imperatives motivating his action!  His bold action has allowed many precious acres to be protected, just outside Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

“Putting My Body in the Way”

Monday, July 25th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

Post-Arrest Statement from Junior Walk

Some folks would like to say that me getting myself arrested to help get this tree sit up was a selfless or heroic action. I know better than that. I did what I did for selfish reasons: my water, my family, my land, my people. The brave young activists that come in here and put their lives and freedom on the line for people like me are the real heroes. Those folks don’t have to be here, they don’t come from here, this isn’t their home (though in my opinion they can call this place their home any time they want to) and they still sacrifice so much because they realize that their own liberation is tied up in mine, and tied up in the liberation of all oppressed people.

I decided to take the fight to the coal companies by putting my body in the way of their operations.  It was the support and encouragement of a network of people that made that possible, and many of those people are not from around here. We’ve all grown very close through this experience, and I’m very grateful for it.  It would have been hard to do what I did without them, and I am very proud to call Becks, Catherine-Ann, and Eli personal friends of mine.

We’re all standing in solidarity with the forgotten town of Packsville, WV (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.  I’ve had numerous phone calls from people who knew me while I was growing up. (more…)

Tree Sit on Coal River Mountain – Day Five Update

Monday, July 25th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia
Coal River Mountain Tree Sit Continues Through Day 5!

Catherine Ann MacDougal and Becks Kolins continue to sit 80 feet up in their trees, halting mining in a large portion of the Bee Tree Permit on Coal River Mountain in West Virginia.

The sitters had a beautiful morning of cool breezes, followed by thunderstorms this afternoon. They inform us they have “weathered the storms” well.

Becks messaged us today- “Super nice out right now. Feelin really good! Bugs suck a lot. Baby bears have yet to return. Same with the cop!”

Honoring Judy Bonds

Sunday, July 24th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

“I want you to notice nature, how geese are in flight and they form a V in a leadership role…The lead goose, when he gets tired of flapping his wings, he drops to the back and the next goose comes up front. Without stopping, without fussing, without whining. He becomes that next leader, he or she, that’s what we have to do.” -Judy Bonds, PowerShift 2007

The Coal River Mountain tree sit that currently halts mining on a large portion of the active site on Coal River Mountain is partly in honor of Judy Bonds, a devoted anti mountaintop removal activist who passed away earlier this year from cancer- no doubt from living nearby strip mining for most of her life. She was a pillar of strength in the movement who inspired many with her powerful speeches and generous love for her homeland, the Coal River Valley and the people who worked with her to save it.

Junior Walk, who was arrested supporting tree sitters Catherine Ann MacDougal and Becks Kolins at the site of the sit on July 20, 2011, knew Judy Bonds all his life.
“If it weren’t for Judy I probably wouldn’t be able to do any of the work I do today, and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to put my freedom and safety on the line like I did to help with this tree sit. Judy took a chance on me, when I came to her looking for a way to plug in I was just a security guard on a strip mine and that’s probably where I’d still be today if it weren’t for her.”

Junior is among many of us who have been touched deeply by Judy Bonds and her courage to stand up against injustice.

Thank you for your guidance and inspiration Judy! We will “fight harder.”

New Study Shows Elevated Poverty Rates Near Mine Sites

Sunday, July 24th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

Heightened Poverty in Appalachia Where Mining Occurs
A WVU study was just released showing the elevated poverty rates in Appalachia near mine sites. This is one on top of many recent studies showing the immensely devastating impacts of mountaintop removal mining and strip mining.

Hyndryx who helped write the recent WVU study wrote “The study establishes the simple fact that MTM [mountaintop mining] areas have higher poverty. Residents of these areas are faced with the combined risks of differential exposures to potential environmental hazards in the context of socioeconomic vulnerability.”

Where coal mining occurs in southern Appalachia, people are being exposed to poor air and water quality which is directly causing higher cancer rates and birth defects. Not only that, they are being subjected to a ruined economic state where a dying industry is holding on to the monetary throne for dear life and actively preventing new and more sustainable industries from starting up. People are being put in a situation where they see little choice but to either take part in the destruction and keep food on the table or leave their homes in search of jobs (that is if they have the money to relocate to begin with).

Junior Walk of Whitesville, WV, who was arrested Wednesday for doing ground support for the ongoing tree sit on Coal River Mountain, said of the study, “I don’t need any studies or anything else to tell me strip mining creates poverty, just take a drive down the Coal River through Boone county and you can see plain as day the effect strip mining has had on our economy here. Take a look at Whitesville, a once bustling town that’s now just a row of boarded up storefronts and a thick layer of coal dust on everything. Whitesville is just one of many towns that have been destroyed by the coal industry.”

Tree Sit on Coal River Mountain: Day Four Update

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

Day 4: Blasting + Work Continues to be Halted.

Two tree sitters, Becks Kolins and Catherine Ann MacDougal, are continuing to halt work and blasting on a significant portion of the Bee Tree surface mine. Both sitters remain in high spirits.

Catherine Ann sent us the following update this morning: “Had a very fetal awakening this morning: suspended in my hammock, wrapped in layers of protection from bugs and weather, my life support stringing from my belly.”The sitters are remaining dry despite some thunderstorms.  They have been taking advantage of the inclement weather by gathering rainwater in gallon jugs.  Catherine Ann and Becks are appreciating the slightly cooler weather that the rain has brought.

The sitters had their first visit from a police officer today. Becks sent us this update: “Our first visit from a cop! He was nice. Not as cute as the baby bears though.” Becks is referring to the baby bears that visited the sitters yesterday.

The police officer was, “Just making small talk. Wanted to see us. Asked if we were in it for the long haul. Pretty friendly.”

The sitters have been in the trees for four days through intense heat and thunderstorms. They are there to stop strip mining on Coal River Mountain. Thanks for all the support. Please donate to keep our sitters up in the trees! Every amount helps!

Today they sent us this message:

We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains. –Assata Shakur

EPA’s New Guidance Won’t Stop Strip Mining on Coal River Mountain

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

Yesterday, the EPA released a new water quality guidance to reduce the environmental and public health impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia.  This guidance essentially defines the process through which the EPA will evaluate valley fill permit applications, minimize impacts on streams, enforce water pollution guidelines, and use its authority to veto permits.  This guidance was first issued in draft form in April 2010; prior to that time, even though the EPA had the authority to intervene in valley fill permit applications, it never did so.

While this guidance does represent stricter EPA oversight over valley fills and could reduce the number and size of valley fills, it will not stop strip mining or even mountaintop removal mining. According to the EPA’s press release announcing the release of the guidance, the guidance will allow the EPA “to work together with states, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, mining companies, and the public towards a balanced approach that protects communities from harmful pollution associated with coal mining. EPA will apply the guidance flexibly, taking into account site-specific information and additional science to arrive at the best decisions on a case-by-case basis.”

Tree Sit on Coal River Mountain Day Three Update

Friday, July 22nd, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

Today was another hot and humid day on Coal River Mountain.  The tree sitters remained in good spirits.  During the day 2 baby bears visited near the trees, which was a highlight for Becks and Catherine-Ann.

In the late afternoon, security approached the trees to inform the sitters that a blast was about to go off on the BeeTree permit, but not immediately next to the sitters’ location.   After the relatively “small” blast the security returned to the site again.  The sitters were not harmed in any way and were not able to witness the blast.  We will be in communication with Alpha to ensure that the safety of the sitters is maintained, and we are monitoring the situation.  The sitters are still halting blasting and work in the immediate area of the tree-sit.  Aside from this blast, there has been no work done on the mine site today.

Check out the video uploaded today with interviews from both tree sitters, and Eli and Junior, as well as of the flyover of the area that took place on the first day of the tree sit.

As night approaches there may be a storm headed for the tree sit, we hope the sitters will stay safe and dry overnight.  Thanks for your continued support, and check back frequently for more updates.  Also, don’t forget to follow RAMPSWV on Twitter!


Tree Sit on Coal River Mountain: Day Two Update

Friday, July 22nd, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

Blasting on the Bee Tree permit on Coal River Mountain continues to be halted by two tree sitters, Catherine Ann MacDougal and Becks Kolins.  As of Thursday evening, the Bee Tree permit was quiet, and no work appeared to be occurring, according to the sitters.

It has been fairly quiet high in the canopy, and the sitters are doing well despite the heat. Macdougal traversed through the trees to Kolins’ platform for a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Yesterday afternoon, someone called to them from hill above them.  The person, presumably a worker or security guard, asked them to come down and to be careful. Alpha has been working on bulldozing a road down to where the tree sitters are.

The heat index in West Virginia was 105 degrees, and today – Friday – promises to be just as warm.  Keep Becks and Catherine Ann in your thoughts today, as they sit, sweat, and sway 80 feet in the air, on the edge between mountains and moonscape.

The treesitters thank everyone for their words of support from across the country! Keep them coming!

And please donate to RAMPS if you are able, so that the RAMPS base camp can continue to help this tree-sit stay as safe as possible.

Maps of the Treesit

Friday, July 22nd, 2011
posted by admin

Deep in the forested mountains and amidst mining permits are our brave treesitters.

Becks is in a Tulip Poplar and Catherine-Ann is in an Oak tree on the south side of Bee Tree Holler (Oops, had the trees switched up earlier.)

tree sit location photo