Statement of Becks Kolins

The way the coal industry and politicians decide what is legal and illegal in this society is appalling.

After I get down from the tree I am occupying, I will be arrested and sentenced to time in jail, for I am breaking the law. What about the CEOs of Alpha and other corporations who are strip mining innumerable mountains, poisoning communities, destroying priceless lands, and leaving a beautiful and culturally rich Appalachia poverty stricken? Those with the most power, those who are killing people, are able to get away with it, while I will be put in jail. I am tired of watching the powerful gain, while the working class lose.  Watching my good friend, Junior, throw up blood because he has been poisoned by strip mining for 21 years, and watching thousands of acres of mountains being turned into moonscape.

I spent my first two months in the Coal River Valley lobbying the West Virginia Legislature, urging them to support a bill that would have banned slurry injections.  The toxic waste from coal processing is injected underground, and seeps into communities’ water.  We learned after the legislative session, and after our bill had failed, that the Coal Industry and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP) had lobbied together against the bill. The WV DEP was working against a bill that would have protected the very people that they are set up to protect. In a state so dominated by the coal industry, how do we trust that the best interests of its citizens are being looked after? We can’t. So I am taking this stand to show the coal industry that there are people who are fighting against them; that we are no longer going to sit down and watch them continue to poison communities. It us up to those who oppose the destruction of Appalachia to fight against strip-mining and to stand up against the current powers that be!

Read statement from fellow tree sitter Catherine Ann Macdougal and statements from the sitters ground support Junior Walk and Elias Schewel