Treesit stopping blasts above Pettry Bottom, Coal River Valley

PETTRY BOTTOM, W.Va.—Two people are occupying two treetops at the edge of Massey Energy’s Edwight mountaintop removal site above Pettry Bottom and Peachtree in Raleigh County, West Virginia. At 6:30 a.m., concerned citizens unrolled two banners reading “Stop Mountain Top Removal” and “DEP – Don’t Expect Protection” from their treetop platforms. They are perched 80 feet above the ground, within 30 feet of the mine, and within the 300 feet of blasting. Blasting is prohibited when people are within such proximity.

Nick Stocks, 25, and Laura Steepleton, 24, of Rock Creek, West Virginia, are in the trees. Kim Ellis, of New Orleans, Louisiana and Zoe Beavers, of Hurricane, West Virginia are on the ground below. All protesters are associated with Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice.

“I am sitting in this tree to halt the blasting that endangers the residents of Pettry Bottom and Clays Branch,” Steepleton said.  “The people of Pettry Bottom, Clays Branch are living below a land slide waiting to happen and the only barrier between fallen trees, mud, boulders and water and the Pettry Bottom community is a wooden stake and tarp fence. The DEP  needs to step in and protect its citizens – not Massey Energy – stop the blasting above Petty Bottom, and end mountaintop removal.”

According to a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health publication and multiple cases of citizen documentation, flyrock has been known to land a half-mile from blasting sites. Several homes in Pettry Bottom are within a half-mile radius of the permitted blasting area. A map available from Aurora Lights at shows the proximity of homes in Pettry Bottom to blasting on the Edwight site.

Pettry Bottom resident, Carol Beckner, has stated “Me, my husband and both of my children all suffer from respiratory problems, allergies, bronchitis, and really bad headaches, from constantly breathing in coal and silica dust and toxic fumes like diesel fuel and ammonium nitrates.”  The tree sitters say they will not willingly descend until blasting ceases above Pettry Bottom, Massey Energy pays the full cost of healthcare and home repair for Pettry Bottom and Peachtree residents, and the Federal Office of Surface Mining commits to supervising the full reclamation of the Edwight mine.

Army veteran and lifelong West Virginian, Zoe Beavers states “I am on this mountain because I believe that every single West Virginian who is proud of being from ‘Almost Heaven’ should take a stand against mountaintop removal.  I am here because DEP officials have failed to stop the blasting.  I am putting my body and reputation on the line to do their job and stop the blasting.  I served in our military so that we can all live in a country that does not exploit and destroy its land and people.”

This is the thirteenth in a series of non-violent direct actions and protests that have brought together Coal River Valley residents, NASA climate scientist James Hansen, students, underground miners, military veterans, concerned citizens and environmentalists from across the nation with the goal of ending mountaintop removal. This is the third protest in two weeks to focus attention on the WV Department of Environmental Protection and their embattled Secretary, Randy Huffman. It also follows days after the leak of DEP biologist Doug Wood’s memo on the scale of environmental degradation caused by mountaintop removal, directly contradicting Huffman’s statements at a senate hearing last June.

43 Replies to “Treesit stopping blasts above Pettry Bottom, Coal River Valley”


  2. Whether or not the sitters are from Rock Creek originally doesn’t override the fact that residents, like the woman quoted in the article, have legitimate complaints, fears, and suffer damage to their health and homes due to the MTR blasting.

  3. Actually, Laura Steepleton is one of the people arrested at WVDEP and her driver’s license says Florida. Go back home!

  4. It also doesn’t change the fact that the DEP’s own internal memos show that its director offered false/misleading information to a Congressional hearing.

  5. No more blasting of any kind, JCV, unless we’re finally able to blast ignorance: who cares if they’re not from Rock Creek – Mountain top removal and climate change impacts all of us, this isn’t a ‘my backyard’ issue.

  6. How sad. The one and only reply so far, and it is cynical. Let the treesitters proliferate and delay against the colossal soot, the real, the immoral and JCV’s.

  7. whether they live there or not has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

    for the record, i don’t think YOU are from rock creek! or if you are, i bet you just moved there!

    see how much that DOESN”T MATTER???

  8. Regardless of where they grew up, and how recently they moved to West Virginia, I know that their actions are greatly appreciated by the people who don’t have fly rock and dust coming down on their heads any more.

  9. I pray they have enought food and water. It is going to be very hot the next few days.

  10. These people are fools. The best thing we can do is go ahead and blast and hope that there is a blowout. Maybe some of the rocks from the blowout will knock them silly enough that they can never breed and therefore save us from more idiots like them.

  11. Way to go folks. If I was younger I’d be up there with you. I’d like to see 1000 or more in trees at every MTR site.

  12. Thank you Laura and Nick, I so respect what you are doing!
    DEP- Don’t Expect Protection, especially if you live in WVa

  13. Hell, yeah guys!! This is the best thing yet! Progress Miner, I’m sure everyone is very well taken care of with food and water and that they’re safe. These guys know their shit. I wish they didn’t have to sit up in trees to keep the mountain from being blown up, but since it’s working, I hope they can last it out and that some REAL change will come soon as a result of their efforts (and everyone’s efforts in ending the destruction of Appalachia). These guys are my heros. If I had my way, we’d have an award ceremony for everyone involved. If only we had the resources for such things…. Someday, I hope.

  14. Lay not a hand on my Children, for they are in the trees to protect my creation.

    Luke 18:16-17, TLB. “Then Jesus called the children over to Him and said to the disciples, ‘Let the little children come to me! Never send them away! For the Kingdom of God belongs to men who have hearts as trusting as these little children’s. And anyone who doesn’t have their kind of faith will never get within the Kingdom’s gates.”

  15. Post a couple security guards with video cameras and when they have to relieve themselves, film it and post it on youtube.

  16. I live in Peachtree, and I want to thank those folks for doing what they are doing. So Massey take that!! And they do live in Rockcreek.

  17. We all want to thank the folks for sitting in those tree’s. No BLASTING today!! No DUST Today!! Thank you guys from the bottom of our hearts. We all need to take back our communities and our lives from Massey Energy. And our Governor and Senators should being bring in other industries in our state, so we are not depended only on COAL MINING for a job! Massey Energy is DESTROYING our mountains and our heritage. Massey don’t care about us, they are not even from our state. When all the coal is gone, they will be gone. What will we do then? Rahall said there is only 20 years of coal left. What about our kids and there kids? What about our home place? What about our beautiful mountains? What about our beautiful rivers and creeks? They won’t be here when Massey leaves!! Think about that?

    Pettry Bottom Community

  18. Solidarity between workers and environmentalists! We all have to breath the air and drink the water. Although, environmentalism is also a class issue. It is the poor that disproportionately feel the brunt of pollution, as people in the Appalachians know only too well…

  19. May God bless them. We just need a couple of thousand more such committed people and maybe we can save a few of the indigenous forests we have left. Can anyone say “our economy depends upon our landbase?” Why so many people think that destroying things so we can run electric lights in every room in our house, and run our air-conditioning rather than sitting out in the shade of an old oak tree I’ll never understand. Propping up a wasteful economy by destroying the limited resources that we have left is, literally, to saw off the limb we are sitting on.

  20. From a redwood summer veteran, thank you for taking your brave stand, for the environment and the people, and against big coal’s greed and destruction. We stand with you! Stay strong!

  21. Laura Steepleton & Nick Stocks of Rock Creek ? BULL…. That small community can’t “sustain” everyone who (claims ) to be a resident. If this trend continues Rock Creek will rival Charleston W V.

  22. I guess these people would love to live in caves in the dark. You know they won’t build a fire for light or keep warm since the smoke pollutes the air. I quess they are vegetarians as well since without the fire they can’t eat meat. Without coal we would be in the stone age. No electricity to power homes, computers, cellphones, and the new electric hybrid cars being produced. Oh, I know the answer windmills, no that won’t work…tried already in Greenbrier County…those were protested as well. Wait we will put in a nuclear power plant…no that will get protested…no one wants to glow in the dark. Water power to generate electricity…no can’t dam the rivers. COME ON GET A LIFE!

  23. these people are real heros. what a worthy thing to do with your time on this planet. i am ashamed that i am not there with them.

  24. Do people have to be from a town to have passion for it and stand up for its citizens. No, I don’t believe so!

  25. I think this is the coolest protest I have ever heard of. Great Job, maybe people will join you.
    And JVC I dont think you have to be from an area to care about people when they are being wronged, and I feel sorry you have never felt like there was anything worth standing up for in your life if your solution is death to anyone opposing something.

  26. I think what these people are doing is crazy. They need to get real jobs and support there families like the hard working employees of Massey Energy are doing. Climb out of your tree, get a real job and stop trying to harm the families of these miners who are doing a great job keeping our power on. You may not want to support anyone but the miners do. Thats why they have REAL JOBS so they can support there families. Keep digging out the coal!!!!!!!!!!!


  28. If your gonna donate to something, donate to some of these fellow miners who are getting laid off everyday thanks to retards like this that do what they do for nothing more than the attention they get. This is pathetic, and THEY should be ashamed for trying to take OUR jobs that feed OUR families. Get a life people! Get a JOB! Get a Bath!!!

  29. Well actually yeah I do have a job I am the assistant manager of a business, and I shower and put on deodorant everyday. And without the trees you wouldn’t have oxygen, hey maybe that is a good solution. Figures you would have to throw in the forceful talk and threats. Maybe you should move to this area and build your house below a slurry damn and send your kids to Marsh Fork Elementary.

  30. Kevin, JCV is standing up for something,his job and family. Oh and “good solution” wait co2 has not been declared a polutant yet ,but I expect Mr Obama will remedy that very soon.

  31. Is “proud surface miner” proud to push a graveyard over the mountain???You cant say you havent done THAT…from JOHN DAVID ROSE, Clay CO, WEST by God Virginia….and YES, Ive been to Rock Creek…and Ill be back!!!! Ive never raped a mountain and my family lives just fine..If your companies even made an ATTEMPT to reclaim a site…even ONE hardwood tree..our…(environmentalists) numbers may not have grown in exponential factors….( that means we have ALOT of people on our side, and ALOT more every day)…were not going away..

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