Archive for May, 2012

Announcing late-July Mountain Mobilization

Thursday, May 31st, 2012
posted by admin

Come to southern West Virginia on July 25. RAMPS will host a mobilization where people will prepare to and take nonviolent direct action to shut down a strip mine. We are calling for as many people as possible to come together and do what the politicians, the regulators and the courts have been unwilling to do; to defend the land and the people; to stop strip mining.


Showing Solidarity with Prisoners in South Central Regional Jail

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
posted by fern

When my friends and I locked our bodies to a coal Barge on the Kanawha River, we found ourselves in a place of great visibility. We were immediately noticed and photographed and our story and message spread through newspapers, on twitter, and all over the internet.

That same day, we entered South Central Regional Jail in Kanawha County, WV, where those held are almost invisible. I believe that jail is always inhumane–a poor way to resolve social conflict but an excellent way for those in power to repress dissenting people groups. I was still surprised, though, at the appalling conditions in this overcrowded state jail. When we arrived at the jail, Rebecca and I were ushered into an approximately 15’ x 12’ holding cell which already held about twelve other women. We had to step gingerly over prone bodies to make it to the concrete bench on the edge of the cell. The jail was chill and we were exhausted, but without blankets all we could do was cling to each other to keep warm. Normally, inmates are only in holding for a few hours until they are processed and sent to pods where they have access to beds, a phone, and space to walk around during the day. The women curled up on the floor of our holding cell, however, had been there for days; some had not even been allowed to make a phone call to let someone know where they were and how to bail them out. Under a constant fluorescent light, the cell hung heavy with a temporal disorientation and a despair of ever being seen or heard.


housing update

Friday, May 25th, 2012
posted by admin
Update (5/25/12):  Unfortunately, the property we had our eye on in the Coal River Valley sold, but we’re still exploring other possibilities for a permanent home for our campaign in southern West Virginia. Thanks everyone who is supporting us in this effort!

Taking a Stand: Personal Statements from Barge Activists Ricki Draper, Nathan Joseph, and Jacob Mack-Boll

Friday, May 25th, 2012
posted by amunn

I am incredibly proud to stand today with the century-long Appalachian resistance against the devastating effects of the coal industry.

One of my favorite teachers once said, “If hard work would fix Appalachia, it would already be fixed”. I have come to realize that if compelling research on health effects of mining would stop mountaintop removal mining, it would already be illegal. I’ve discovered that if intentional participation in public hearings for mining permits would change the process of issuing permits, it would already be changed. If engaging with local and national government representatives and demonstrating widespread concern for mountaintop removal would change legislation, mountaintop removal would be illegal. If the degradation of watersheds and communities of place in Appalachia would change the hearts of coal barons and judges influenced by the industry, the fight against mountaintop removal would be over and won.

The people who live in and love Appalachia have done all of these things and continue to do so, and I stand with them today.  But mountaintop removal is still destroying Appalachian mountains; and together, we must do everything we can to stop the destruction.

I have broken the law because the legal system is broken. I have broken the law because mountaintop removal is destroying our health, our mountains, and our futures. I have broken the law because the destruction of our landbase, which is our endowment, is legal.



My name is Nathan Joseph ad I am from New Orleans, Louisiana. Louisiana is one of many states and countries outside of the coalfields of Appalachia that uses mountaintop removal coal as a part of its state energy portfolio. The export of mountaintop removal coal to other regions of the world takes away the livelihoods of those who toil to support their families or suffer adverse health effects. Like Louisiana’s chemical alley, the exploitative energy extraction industry present in Appalachia has led to extremely high cancer rates in the region. Coal companies here have a long history of exploitation and abuse of their employees and the land in search of larger profit margins. In addition, the destruction of one of the most biodiverse regions of North America is leaving a giant scar upon the land and pushing a number of species, like the Eastern Hemlock, Red Wolf, and Virginia Big Eared Bat, to the level of critical endangerment. If “business as usual” does not stop SOON, there will not be an Appalachia left for our children or our children’s children.







My name is Jacob Mack-Boll and I want, with my whole core, for an end to be put to mountaintop removal. This is what brought me here today – seeing the total destruction of the mountains and culture, devastation of community and health, and crisis of watersheds and ecosystems. Being from Pennsylvania I don’t want to claim that I have been directly affected by mountaintop removal. What I recognize is the connection that I have as a consumer, tied so directly to this drain of Appalachia’s resources, and the power that I have to help stop the exploitation and destruction of people and places that I care about. The line of “this far and no farther” has been crossed already, and I have to demand, in every way that I can, that mountaintop removal be abolished.

Two Activists Still Detained!

Friday, May 25th, 2012
posted by admin

Update :Everyone is now out of jail!!!











At around 3am we got a call from Rebecca Loeb, in jail with Catherine Ann MacDougal for locking down to a coal barge yesterday. They are both doing well. They said the jail is overcrowded and they’re being kept in a holding cell and not released into the jail’s general population. They want us to try to get them out soon if the situation doesn’t change.

For more info. about the action:


Donate to RAMPS:

Donate to Mountain Justice:

Additional information:

Follow them on Twitter @CoalIsFilthy

Photos on Flickr

Five locked to coal barge on Kanawha River.

Police on scene where five locked to coal barge on Kanawha River to protest mountaintop removal and the negative health impacts of fossil fuel resource extraction.

Pro-Mountain Activists Block MTR Haul Road; Board Barge; Arrests Made

Thursday, May 24th, 2012
posted by amunn

Five arrested blocking coal barge shipment with $10k bail, none arrested blocking haul road
EPA, DEP, USGS make surprise visit to Kayford Mountain and haul road blockade

24 May 2012
Contact: Robert Livingston, 304.731.1740
Twitter: @CoalIsFilthy

UPDATE: Joseph, Loeb and MacDougal were charged with trespass asked to leave and obstruction, both misdemeanors, while Draper and Mack-Boll were charged with trespass asked to leave. All five were held on $10,000 bail with an option of $1,000 surety bond. Loeb and MacDougal intend to continue their protest and not cooperate with the criminal justice system by staying in jail until their court dates and the other three have been released. RAMPS and Mountain Justice request donations to continue the campaign.

KAYFORD, W.Va. – Mountain Justice and RAMPS disrupted coal transport at two locations in the upper Kanawha Valley on Thursday May 24.

Five people boarded an empty coal barge at the Quincy Docks operated by Kanawha River Terminals in Chelyan, W.Va. and locked themselves to the boat with a banner stating “Coal Leaves Cancer Stays”. The barge was immobilized for three hours, until police detained them by 1:00 pm.

The group on the barge included Ricki Draper, 21, of Greensboro, NC; Nathan Joseph, 23, New Orleans, LA; Rebecca Loeb, 24, Maynard, MA; Catherine-Ann MacDougal, 23, Rock Creek, WV; Jacob Mack-Boll, 20, Lancaster, PA.

Draper stated, “I am incredibly proud to stand today with the century-long Appalachian resistance against the devastating effects of the coal industry. I have broken the law because the legal system is broken. I have broken the law because mountaintop removal is destroying our health, our mountains, and our futures. I have broken the law because the destruction of our landbase, which is our endowment, is legal.” Personal statements from other action participants will be released online at

Meanwhile, on Kayford Mountain, dozens of concerned citizens blocked access to and from the Republic Energy Surface Mine until they were dispersed by police. The blockade halted nine coal trucks and no arrests were made.


Pro-mountain activists board coal barge and blockade Kayford strip mine haul road

Thursday, May 24th, 2012
posted by admin

Follow coverage at


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Contact: Robert Livingston 304.731.1740

Note: Photos available within 1 – 2 hours.

KAYFORD, W.Va. –Mountain Justice and RAMPS activists blocked coal transport in two locations Thursday morning protesting mountaintop removal. Five boarded a barge on the Kanawha River near Chelyan, with a large banner that read “Coal leaves, cancer stays,” and locked their bodies to the barge. At the same time, dozens of concerned citizens obstructed access to the haul road on Kayford Mountain, stopping coal trucks from entering or leaving the Republic Energy mine.

“These actions against coal transport were taken because the viability and health of mountain communities are being destroyed by mountaintop removal—the coal and the profits are shipped away, leaving disease and destruction in their wake,” Rebecca Loeb, one of the people on the barge said.

According to Nathan Joseph, another activist on the barge, the struggle against mountaintop removal in Appalachia is linked to the struggles of other fossil fuel extraction communities across North America and the world.

“The coal industry’s continued disregard for the well-being of Appalachian communities is connected to the struggles of other North American extraction communities. Strip mining tar sands for low-quality oil, fracking for dirty gas and deep sea oil drilling are signs we are scraping the bottom of the barrel. The extraction, transport, processing and combustion of these fuels all disproportionately impact low-income communities, indigenous communities (such as the Dine on Big Mountain in Arizona), and communities of color,” Joseph said.

According to a study co-authored by Dr. Michael Hendryx in 2011, a researcher at West Virginia University, “Self-reported cancer rates were significantly higher in the mining versus the non-mining area after control for respondent age, sex, smoking, occupational history, and family cancer history (odds ratio = 2.03, 95% confidence interval = 1.32–3.13). Mountaintop mining is linked to increased community cancer risk.”1 The study’s researchers collected data from 773 adults in door-to-door interviews.

As people in West Virginia see the lack of opportunities, they often leave the area to pursue a future elsewhere. Larry Gibson of Kayford said, “Our biggest export in this state besides coal is our young people.” Gibson is a founding member of Keepers of the Mountains, and organization of West Virginians seeking to end mountaintop removal and build sustainable livelihoods through land preservation and national outreach. Only 50 acres of his family’s ancestral land remain untouched by the massive surface mining operations on Kayford Mountain.

Marilyn Mullens of Coolridge, W.Va., said “Clean water and air is a human right. My electricity is not worth my human rights being violated–I’ll live with the lights off. I want my children and grandchildren to enjoy the beauty of West Virginia. We’re tired of the corporations lording over us, and no one is hearing our voices, so it’s time to take it further than talking.” Mullens is an organizer of Women United to End Mountaintop Removal, a May 28 event, in which women will shave their heads in front of the W.Va. Capitol in protest of mountaintop removal.

“For the past 150 years the coal industry has been pillaging this place and taking everything, leaving nothing but death and destruction in their wake. I am personally very thankful to these young folks who ain’t from around here necessarily who decided to put their freedom and bodies on the line to stop this vicious cycle, even if it is just for one day,” Junior Walk of Whitesville, W.Va., said, “I would love to see some of my native West Virginia brothers and sisters stand up and tell this industry they can’t do this anymore.”

Upcoming events to keep up the pressure:

Additional information:

1From the Abstract of Hendryx M, Wolfe L, Luo J, Webb, B. Self-reported cancer rates in two rural areas of West Virginia with and without mountaintop coal mining. Journal of Community Health, in press.



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Activists Block Duke Coal Shipment, link Mountaintop Removal to iCloud

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
posted by strangur

Saving The Mountain
CHARLOTTE, NC—This morning, activists from Greenpeace, RAMPS (Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival), Katuah Earth First!, Mountain Justice and Keepers of the Mountains Foundation blocked a coal train en route to the Marshall Steam Station, a Duke Energy coal-fired power plant, and branded the cars with the iconic Apple logo.

Four activists, including leaders from the anti-mountaintop removal movement, locked themselves to the rail tracks preventing the train from passing. Other activists branded the train with Apple’s logo to show that Apple’s growing iCloud will be powered by more coal as its Maiden, NC, data center expands.

“Duke is using datacenter expansion in North Carolina, like Apple’s, to justify reinvesting in old coal-fired power plants and even worse, as an excuse to build new coal and nuclear plants. But if Apple demands renewable energy from Duke Energy to power its iCloud it could help transform both the IT sector’s and North Carolina’s energy economy,” said Gabe Wisnieweski, Greenpeace USA Coal Campaign Director.   “Unfortunately, today Apple’s iCloud uses whatever power Duke offers, and this dirty mix currently includes electricity from burning mountaintop removal coal.  The climate and communities throughout Appalachia and North Carolina are paying the price for Apple and Duke’s short-sighted decisions.”