Archive for August, 2011

Alpha is suing!

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
posted by admin

The tree sitters and their direct support received word today that Alpha Natural Resources is suing them for irreparable damages. They are seeking a permanent injunction, compensatory damages and punitive damages.

As Becks says “we’re such awful people! glad the industry that kills, poisons, and destroys is able to put us in our place.”

We will keep you posted as we look into this more … stay tuned, this should be interesting!

Down but not done …

Monday, August 29th, 2011
posted by admin

Catherine Ann spent  30 days living in an oak tree in bee tree holler on Coal River Mountain.  On day 30, limited resources necessitated that she descend and continue the fight against strip mining from the ground.   She began her decent in the morning, in the evening she was charged with trespassing and conspiracy and was released on her own recognizance.  This is her story of that day.

I was determined not to get a littering charge.

I finally had everything down from the trees, and I kept checking in with security, anxiously, to see how likely I was to be able to get my things up the hill. The head of security had been checking in with these men even more anxiously: it seemed that every few minutes they demanded an update on my “status.”

This urgency didn’t make sense to me until I was finally on the ground, and my security guards radioed in to say so. The scratching voices on the other end then informed us that we were to stay exactly where we were: they had been waiting for me to get out of Becks’s tree so that they could blast, clearly somewhere very nearby. I imagined now that they must have eagerly scheduled a blast that morning as soon as they heard I was coming down, not realizing how long the whole process would take me. I probably delayed the blast for about an hour, and if I had known that such an explosion was waiting on my descent, I may have been tempted to cling to Becks’s tulip poplar, platform or no platform.

As soon as I was on the ground, security prepared for the blast by sitting down, and recommended that I follow suit so that I wouldn’t tumble down the steep slope when it went off. Soon after that, we felt the detonation shake the earth. I wished, not for the last time, that I were back in my oak.

Catherine Ann is Released!

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
posted by admin

After 30 days of living 80 feet up in an oak tree halting blasting above Bee Tree holler on Coal River Mountain, Catherine Ann has descended from her tree and is heading home.

She spent most of the day packing up and carrying down her stuff from the trees in attempts to haul it out of the forest with her.   However, the officers would not let her carry out all that she had.  This afternoon police took her into custody and drove her off the mine site to magistrate court.  Magistrate Charles R. Humphrey released her on personal recognizance this evening and charged with one count of trespass (asked to leave) and one count of conspiracy.  She was initially charged with littering, but that was dropped.

Read Catherine Ann’s post-arrest statement and watch for more details about her descent soon.


Please donate to the general fund to support more actions like this one.
Thank you so much for all the support over the past 30 days!
Stay tuned for more to come- The fight is not over!

Tree-sit Concludes After Thirty Days of Blocking Work on Coal River Mountain

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
posted by admin

RAMPS Campaign Vows to Continue Fighting to Save the Mountain

Marfork, W.Va.–Catherine-Ann MacDougal is descending her oak tree on Coal River Mountain that she has lived in for the past month in protest of strip mining, and police have been notified.  MacDougal, an activist with the RAMPS Campaign, had been in the oak tree on Alpha Natural Resources’ Bee Tree permit since July 20; until August 2, she had been joined by fellow RAMPS activist Becks Kolins.  Their tree-sit, the longest in West Virginia history, effectively halted blasting on the Bee Tree hollow portion of the site, aside from a small blast released on the third day of the tree-sit.

“The reality of limited resources now necessitates my descent but this is not the last they will see of us. I plan to remain here and fight for this mountain for years to come,” said MacDougal.

The Bee Tree permit is the largest active strip mining permit on Coal River Mountain and is currently up for renewal.  At a public hearing held last week by the W.Va. Department of Environmental Protection, about fifty residents showed up to ask questions and submit comments.  Many discussed their concern over the health impacts of mountaintop removal, blasting near the Brushy Fork Impoundment, and the destruction of the mountains where they and their families had traditionally hunted, fished, and gathered wild plants.

Hundreds confront Big Coal in St. Louis

Monday, August 15th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

Rally outside Arch Coal headquarters (Photo from Energy Action Coalition)

Our friends at the Midwest Rising! Convergence for Climate and Economic Justice protested outside the headquarters of Arch Coal and Peabody Energy, as well as a Bank of America Branch, one of Peabody’s financial partners, in St. Louis, Mo., Monday. They were demanding that Arch not destroy Blair Mountain and end mountaintop removal, that Bank of America stop financing companies engaged in mountaintop removal or pursuing coal export infrastructure, and that Peabody agree to:

  1. return the $61 million in recent tax breaks to the city, especially $2 million from the St. Louis Public Schools system, so that money can fund education and other social services
  2. halt its plan to build an export terminal in Washington state for the export of coal to China
  3. end coal extraction and switch completely to renewable, sustainable energy

Arch Coal is a major perpetrator of mountaintop removal mining and currently holds some of the mountaintop removal mining permits on Blair Mountain, site of the largest labor uprising in US history. (more…)

26 Days in the Trees!

Sunday, August 14th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

Catherine Ann in her tree-house, taken by Becks.

Catherine-Ann is still going strong after 25 days. She says “The more time goes by, the fainter grows my desire for the luxuries of the ground, and the more comfortable i become with this peaceful, contemplative life in a tree.”

She is enjoying all the creatures she has seen! Yesterday she was once again graced with the presence of another black bear. Also, the tree mouse that had been crawling all over Becks made a nest in Catherine-Ann’s bag of toilet paper. But don’t worry, she’s got enough and doesn’t mind sharing!

She told us that she had a fever and was feeling pretty tired, but after drinking lots of water and getting lots of rest, she has recuperated and is feeling better than ever! She continues to stay hydrated and stay dry through the multiple summer thunderstorms.

She says the security is still just as nice and she has adjusted to the decreased solitude. On day 23, she awoke to security telling her they would remain directly below her tree from then on. They moved in their camp, which included a generator, lights and an orange fence around the area and have remained there day and night. Every day Alpha spends more time and money stringing up lights, running extension cords downhill, and setting up a station for the security guards. Alpha’s camp set-up is for the security’s safety, unlike Massey’s use of these items as means of harassment during previous tree sits. “They have only been civil and polite – completely different from what people were experiencing before,” Catherine Ann says “It is important to remember that on the face of it, it looks different but that it is a superficial difference. I hope that people will see that destruction wearing a nice face is still destruction.” Becks adds “Although they are being very kind and I think there is definitely more hope in working with them than with Massey, they are still poisoning people. They are still doing Mountaintop Removal. So while they are nice to activists they continue to destroy communities.”

During this tree sit to demand an end to strip mining on Coal River Mountain, RAMPS Campaign members organized and attended a meeting between Alpha Natural Resources senior management and residents of coal-impacted communities. (more…)

Whose side is the DEP on?

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011
posted by admin

Yesterday evening, the WVDEP hosted a hearing on the renewal of the Bee Tree mountaintop removal permit on Coal River Mountain and on the proposed new Collins Fork strip mining permit.  This hearing made it abundantly clear whose side the DEP is on – and it’s not our side.

During the hearing, people got a chance to speak with DEP officials and ask questions about the permits and also to record comments in the public record.  Many questions that were asked, the DEP representatives were unable to answer.  For other questions, the DEP responses made it clear that they were not really interested in hearing peoples’ concerns.  One DEP representative went so far as to tell local resident Marilyn Mullens that the DEP “is going to approve this permit anyway,” despite the various concerns that people raised during the hearing.  “So what’s the point of having the hearing?  It’s just a show,” Mullens said afterwards.

Another highlight of the evening occurred when a different DEP representative admitted that he was “against the EPA,” presumably because of their efforts to step up enforcement of the Clean Water Act in the coalfields.

The manner in which the hearings were scheduled also shows the DEP’s lack of regard for community input and the law. (more…)

Finishing Up Week 3!

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

Today marks the end of the third week of the tree-sit on Coal River Mountain.  Catherine-Ann remains in her oak tree in good spirits and with no plans to come down.

As Catherine-Ann stops blasting in Bee Tree hollow, locals are gearing up for the permit hearing this evening on the renewal of the Bee Tree permit – and on the proposed new Collins Fork permit on Coal River Mountain.  Despite community concerns over blasting damage, water pollution, increased cancer rates in the community, and destruction of their local mountain, the DEP is still planning to allow strip mining on Coal River Mountain.

There is still time to call the West Virginia DEP or send an email to oppose the renewal of the Bee Tree permit.

But we know that sending letters to a corrupt agency like the DEP will not be enough to stop strip mining. In the words of Judy Bonds, we must “fight harder,” and direct action is one piece of that struggle.  We greatly appreciate all the people who have expressed their support for the tree sit.  Please consider supporting RAMPS through donations – which will help us operate our base camp and provide support to Catherine-Ann.  We also welcome folks to come and join us in the mountains of West Virginia!  If you’re interested in coming to help support this action or future actions, please get in touch with us!

August 8 – National Call In Day to Protect Coal River Watershed

Sunday, August 7th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

On Monday, August 8th, tell the Department of Environmental Protection to deny the Bee Tree Renewal Permit and prohibit future strip mining in the Coal River Watershed.

On Tuesday August 9th, local residents are gearing up for an important hearing on the renewal of the Bee Tree permit and the proposed Collins Fork Remediation Project, a strip mine on the other side of the mountain. We are asking folks to call the DEP and let them know how strong the opposition is to the destruction of the Coal River Watershed.

The Beetree permit encompasses approximately 1000 acres of 5000 proposed, active, and permitted mining in the upper Coal River Watershed. State and Federal Regulators have failed to consider community concerns and properly assess cumulative impacts of mining in the Coal River Watershed.

DEP Telephone No. 304-465-1911

Hello, My name is _________ I live in __________. I am calling because I oppose the Bee Tree surface mining permit (S301004). Tomorrow evening is the scheduled hearing about renewing this permit. I urge you to listen to mine and many others concerns. The Bee Tree permit is one of the mountaintop removal permits on Coal River Mountain, the last major mountain of the Coal River watershed that hasn’t been significantly impacted by mountaintop removal mining. Mountaintop removal permits on Coal River Mountain were issued despite strong opposition from the local community and despite the fact that this watershed has already been seriously degraded by mining.

Living in Trees and Fighting Injustice

Saturday, August 6th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

Becks Kolins writes about fighting to protect the Coal River Watershed and their experience coming down from living 80 feet up in a poplar tree, being arrested and taken into the jail system. Becks spent 14 days in the trees with Catherine Ann, who still remains in her tree and intends to stay put. Becks plans to take the fight into the legal system and plead not guilty based on necessity. The devastation that coal companies are inflicting on the people and environment in Appalachia is absolutely unjust and wrong. 

I came down from my tulip poplar late Tuesday morning, my legs wobbly and my body weak from not eating that morning. After two weeks of sitting and enough food to sustain just that, the hike up to the mine to meet the state police was rather treacherous.  However, with much encouragement from the manager of the mine, I made my way up the steep, and what was becoming less green, incline, poop bucket in hand.  I gasped for air as I set foot on the site; hunched over I was able to see an unbelievable contrast.  Bee Tree Hollow, the hollow I overlooked for 2 weeks, is a luscious green, covered in trees of varying size and species, different animals meandering around, and a trickle of a stream flowing next to my tree.  The site is brown, gray, dusty.  It lacks any sort of animal besides humans and the only trees that could be seen were coming from where I was.  This, I thought, this is what I’m fighting against.