Treesitters descend, threatened with chainsaw, $50,000 bail

31 August 2009

Contact: Charles Suggs, 304-854-7372

PETTRY BOTTOM, W.Va.—The two Edwight tree sitters, Nick Stocks and Laura Steepleton, came down from their 80-foot tulip poplar perches this afternoon and were taken into State Police custody. They have been preventing more blasting from rocking the homes of Pettry Bottom because harmful government inaction has failed to do so. They have both been charged with trespass, obstruction and littering, and their bail has been set at $25,000 each. For the past five days, they endured psychological torture, verbal assault and threats.

Anonymous eyewitnesses said the Massey-hired security guards were telling the treesitters they were going to rape and kill the treesitters. On Sunday night, the guards put a running chainsaw to both trees, cutting them a little bit. The guards told Steepleton today that they were going to get them out of the tree no matter what because Massey ordered them to.

The State Police were absent from the scene from the time the two ground support were first arrested last Tuesday until Stocks came down today, except for their second arrest on Wednesday. They were also gone while arborists were cutting the trees around Steepleton and as she descended.

Soon after his conversation with Webb, Sgt. Smith had to return to the tree sit due to reports of someone felling the trees with a chainsaw while Steepleton’s whereabouts were unknown. What happened after this is unclear except that both Stocks and Steepleton were arrested.

The guards felled trees around Laura and were going to make Stocks’ tree fall into hers. At this point, Laura decided to come down because, as she said, “These people are nuts.”

Bo Webb of Naoma spoke with Sgt. Smith of the State Police and offered to stand at the base of Steepleton’s tree tonight to protect her from the guards, but Smith said he’d have to arrest Webb if Webb went up to the sit. “I told him he’s arresting the wrong people. I think Manchin is behind this, he’s the Commander in Chief of the West Virginia State Police,” Webb said.

“It’s like nobody wants to listen to the people from the community,” Carol Beckner of Pettry Bottom told Jessica Lilly of West Virginia Public Radio. “If maybe people from the outside comes in and does something maybe they’ll start listening to somebody.

“They have to start listening to somebody.”

“The people of Pettry Bottom and 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,” Steepleton said. “Stop the blasting above Petty Bottom, and end mountaintop removal.”

“They are blasting on the ridge that connects to the structure of the dam [above Marsh Fork Elementary],” Ed Wiley of Rock Creek said. “Massey is recklessly endangering those kids, and the folks at Pettry Bottom. I’m glad those tree sitters are getting in their way.”

Steepleton and Stocks climbed 80 feet up a pair of tulip poplars, within 300 feet of blasting and 30 feet of the Massey Energy Edwight Surface Mine. They unfurled two banners from their treetop platforms: “Stop Mountain Top Removal” and “DEP – Don’t Expect Protection”. Blasting is prohibited when people are within such proximity, as Mining Safety and Health Administration regulations require that people not be hurt in the course of blasting and that non-blasting employees all be cleared from the area.

This was 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.


61 Replies to “Treesitters descend, threatened with chainsaw, $50,000 bail”

  1. It pains me that the treesit had to end, but I’ve been concerned for their safety all along and as Laura said, those people are obviously nuts. So is whoever set their bail so high. Hats off to you, Nick and Laura!
    Charged with littering. How ironic.

  2. If these people would get a job and contribute to society maybe they would understand that trespassing on private property and attempting to impede the livelyhood of West Virginians isn’t helping anyone. Mountain Top Removal mining is a cost effectve way of mining which means we all have affordable power. I guess poeple that are living off the government or their daddy don’t understand this yet. The only protesters I ever see are the ones that don’t work for a living. These tree sitters are from Idaho and Florida and I guess there isn’t anything that needs “saved” in their states. Whomever owns this mountain has the legal right to do with it as they want. You never see anyone that owns surface or mineral at these mine sites protesting because they are making money on their investment. The only ones protesting are their neighbors that werent smart enough to invest in property or out of state unemployed drains on society. Shut up and get out of my state!

    1. I don’t care what they own. Its not ok for them to make a quick buck while hurting the whole community let alone contributing to our already troublesome enironmental issue. Coal is a leading factor in Global Warming so why would someone want to help our world get even worse. Typical of Selfish humans to only think short term and NEVER LONG TERM, and what might happen to future generations!!!!!

  3. I do not understand how anyone can read this and be able to stand still. “Massey-hired security guards” – are you kidding me – let’s go back a century to the Pinkertons at Blair Mountain . . . we have not progressed one inch!

    The very nature of the personal threats made against Nick and Laura are a crime – is anyone going to do a thing about that?

    These Massey workers are being incited by their administration, they’re also victims of this crime. If they were able to step back and take a good look, they would see how they are being manipulated and exploited by their “powers at hand.” The money they make for the job they do is PALTRY compared to the billions of dollars and the “personal power” gained by their “captors.”

  4. Hey Ryan Ward,
    They were contributing to society, specifically the people downhill, downstream and down and out.
    They contributed more in those five days than you have? in your whole life?
    Massey is destroying your states air, water, scenery, and long term economy.
    Stopping this is an incredible contribution to society.
    What have you done for your state?

  5. i stand in solidarity with the tree sitters. i thank them for their bravery! that said, there has to ba a better way to dismantle massey. from every which angle. nut by nut…

  6. The $50K bail set for this peaceful protest is yet another example of govt-aided intimidation that reveals the close ties between the corrupt powers in Charleston and the henchmen they empower at Massey Coal to systematically destroy the most valuable and vital natural resource in WV — clean water. The brilliantly biodiverse eco-system of the southern Appalachians includes the headwaters of one of the most treasured sources of clean water in North America. While those who profit from this destruction are will tell you that they are providing us with an easy source of affordable power, the true costs of mountaintop mining will be passed down for generations as the witches’ brew of toxins unleashed from pulverized glacial rock work their way down out of the mountains and into every spring, stream, and river in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern US. For every nickel we save on our electric bills today, our grandchildren will spend $50 trying to find a source of clean drinking water. Shame on anyone who fails to recognize or simply denies this obvious paradox. And kudos to Nick and Laura for having the courage to stand up for future generations of Americans who will be forced to pay the price for the blatant disregard and greed of the current generation of irresponsible politicians and corporate barons.

  7. You are the most uniformed group or you whant to mis inform all the people you try to convince that stopping the mountain top removel and putting in the wind farms will be the best ever. Fact you will have to cut all the trees down, Make roads into the site, Blow up the mountains to prep the sites, and never allow the trees to grow back. At least we miners no matter what organisation it is when we are done with the minning in the areas we plant trees and grass and proper ditch work to controll the water flow. In a lot of the cases after a while you dont even noe that there was minning done. One best to example is New River Gorge it has been mined both underground and surface. So tell the truth and show the results that all these mountains in that area wont have to change at all for the wind mills and how many would it take to properly supply the us hell just this area with good power supply.

  8. I was just wanting to shed light on the subject that by the tree-sitters being stupid enough to climb up a tree and stay there for 6 days it has actually hurt the earth more then it has helped it. Due to the fact that they thought they were stopping the blasting from occurring, which Massey had no intentions on blasting in that area during any of that time, they have caused Massey to cut down trees that were under no other circumstances going to be harmed. Massey didn’t want those trees cut down but to stop this from happening again they feel the need to cut them all down within so many feet of the berm. Environmentalists are supposed to protect God’s green earth, trees included, not cause them to be cut down. As far as the security officers yelling and screaming at the tree-sitters, you tell me what you would do if someone came in more or less and sat on top of your house refusing to move or come down? Wouldn’t that upset you and cause you to do anything within reason to get them down? Coal mining has been around for MANY years and will continue to be around for MANY more. No matter what someone from outside the state does it’s going to continue to progress and provide power for alot of people. So, I think it would be in the protestors best interests to go find another cause they think needs protected. And leave the livelyhood of West Virginians, and the best way to put food in their children’s mouths and provide for their families, alone.

  9. Dennis (embarased to give last name),
    The mining will continue as planned because they have the right. There was no contribution made to anyone here, just a waste of time and resources. I suppose if you don’t work for a living time isn’t that important to you. To answer your question of what have I done for my state, I work and pay my taxes so those who are having hardships have government assistance to get back on their feet, provide money for education, road repair, and the Department of Environmental Protection to look after our air & water quality. As far as the economy goes, tell me any other industry where West Virginians can earn a decent wage. There aren’t any and you can’t blame that on the coal industry, there just isn’t access or places to build anything. Hopefully we will be able to use coal mining as a tool to build access roads such as the King Coal Highway and the Coalfields Expressway and be able to leave a few flat places for construction of future industrial sites. That is how you develop a long term economy in West Virginia, not sitting in trees.

  10. What about the same witches brew of toxins unleashed from pulverized rock in highway construction in southern W.V.? You want to stop or severly curtail that along with all other development in all of the Appalachian region? After its the very same rock.

  11. Gumbrinus,

    “pulverized Glacial Rock” really? Where are you from? Not much, actually any of that in Southern WV. You’re showing your lack of knowledge!

  12. No banner on the dragline, no real backing from Ms. Hannah, and no “WE will not come down until Massey agrees to our terms” have became reality. These acts aren’t going to work. Both sides need to have better dialogue. I just do not see where Fl and Id have anything to say. $50,000 outrageous? Call Ms. Hannah that’s just a drop in the bucket for her. Maybe you can even get her to match the money that massey puts out each year with it’s Christmas toys for children program. It is all about the future here correct? Then no problem getting her to do it then right? Now see how these out of staters really have “personal ties” to WV.

  13. ATTENTION! Coal supporters Mr Ward over at the Gazette is trying do drive the union – non union wedge again about participants in the American Jobs Rally in Logan on labor day. Please don’t fall for it. Its time we ALL stand together to protect our jobs!

  14. I’m going to guess the reason those Massey goons were planning to fell a tree into an occupied tree, instead of directly cutting the occupied tree is for fear that someone up there might practice self-defense if their life were in jeopardy.

    Decades ago, there was an incident in Ca where someone approached an occupied tree with intention of cutting it down. The treesitter, in fear for his life, held a heavy jar of “corn-nuts” over the edge of the platform and pointed down. The idiot with the chainsaw got the idea and backed off.

    Kudos to those who shut down an MTR mine for a full week! Despite the ending, this is one of the most sucessful and effective direct actions against MTR mining I have heard of.

  15. I am a Surface Miner and proud of it because every morning I walk out that door I know I am providing for my family instead of trying to take away the jobs we have here. It makes me SICK to my stomach knowing there is people trying to do away with my job and shut us down and take away from my family. These people come in from out of state and say how ugly suface mining is but they don’t ever say anything about what it’s like when it’s finished and reclaimed. The way I feel about it is if you don’t like it don’t come here and if you live here and don’t like it GET THE ____ OUT!!!!! You say the DEP doesn’t do there jobs. If that’s the case we wouldn’t be mining coal. You say the children that go to Marsh Fork come home sick from school. I have three children that go there and they have NEVER came home sick. You say the steams and rivers are polluted. If so how come I can take my son fishing anywere in Coal River and catch fish all day long. You always talk negative and never positive. As someone mentioned before you tried to hang a banner on our Dragline and didn’t get it done. You said you were going to stay in that tree until your requests we made but you didn’t get it done, YOU FAILED…..So in a nice way just let us keep mining our coal and provide for our families

  16. Yeah Watcher he is the clause in EOE regulations. Now just for a second if we can forget about our areguments, there is something you might need or want to know about Mr. Ward. He is a constant in using articles by the Huffington Post. You ask what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? The Huffington Post employs the man that called Sarah Palin’s infant son a retard and still recfers to him in some sort of manner. People I pray and hope you do not support people like this. Now as far as the Union wedge. Since when in this state or the country on labor day has anyone made the proclomation that the UMWA can be the only event? Hate to tell you Mr ward and the likes but the Marmet Labor day celebration has blown you out of the water for the last decade. If you don’t like it get over it, move on the UMWA and career politicians in this state are a great contributor in the laziness and wanting something for nothing attitude we endure in this generation, bar none!

  17. I am glad the treesitters were charged with something. They were disrupting the lively hood of West Virginias. Before trying to prove a point, why not know both sides of the story. I don’t believe a true West Virginian could be found in the top of a tree trying to protest what keeps the lights on in a great majority of the homes in West Virginia. Was there not harm done to the trees that were being sat in? Did the sitters take everything they had back with them and not leave any damage behind? Everybody leaves a footprint. Trespassing is trespassing and find out the whole story before disrupting somebody else’s life!

  18. Massey and their thugs are for-profit TERRORISTS. Nick and Laura: you are at the front of a wave of non-violent resistance that will overcome Big Coal’s terrorist tactics. Have courage, brave friends!

  19. I love how the enviros call us “Terrorists”. Aren’t they the people who are impedeing progress here in America? No Coal, No power for 98% of WV. No power, no advancement of technology in our society. It seems their idea of progress is sitting in trees. Get a job, support America and quit wasting everyones time and money with your childish attempts to destroy the working man’s America. You produce nothing but false rhetoric and foolishness which is not a contribution to society. You are the terrorist.

    You are also a hypocrite. Please stop using coal if you’re not happy with it.

    Finally, get it straight. You’re not enviromentalist. enviros care about the environment outside of being anti-coal. You are the “anti-coal movement”. What have you done for the environment outside of foolish games like these? The enginners, consultants, geologists, mine superintendants, DEP and others who design these surface mines take the environmental side of their jobs very seriously. The fact is they probably do more to protect the environment than any tree sitter.

    Take a minute and reflect…

  20. I would like to respond to Ryan Ward and Daniel Browning and the miner’s wife and the unknown surface minor.

    I can understand your resentment towards an outsider coming into your state and telling you what to do.
    I can understand your resentment towards someone who is living on daddy’s trust fund.
    I can understand your resentment toward someone who does not work for a living.
    I can understand your resentment towards someone who is uninformed about what they’re talking about.

    I don’t know for a fact, but perhaps you are correct, that the tree sitters and many of the people opposing mountaintop removal fit that description.

    I don’t know for a fact, but I strongly suspect, that the tree sitters and most of the people opposing mountaintop removal still respect the intelligent and hard-working West Virginians who mine coal for a living.

    But just because you are intelligent and hard-working and mine coal for a living and lived your whole life in West Virginia doesn’t mean that you are right.

    I think you are wrong. Mountaintop removal is not a good thing. It needs to stop. You need to think about finding some other way to make a living. That might be very difficult for you to do. But that’s what you need to do.

  21. @Ryan — If you’re only criticism of the issues I have raised above is related to the degree of glacial influence in the regional geology, then I can live with that. Can you live with the fact that current mining practices in Southern WV are destroying the aquifers in your community? People have survived in the rural areas of WV for generations thanks in large part to having ready access to clean water. But that way of life is coming to an end. The WV DEP has conducted studies that support the fact that toxic runoff from the valley fills resulting mountaintop mining is systematically destroying freshwater supplies in the Southern Appalachians. And along with the loss of those creeks and streams comes the demise of traditional Southern Appalachian culture and the traditional way of life for many native West Virginians. If you somehow can’t recognize the tragedy in that, then I have to ask — where exactly are YOU from?

    @Watcher — Highway development in the Southern Appalachians has been a controversial policy for years with studies going back 30 years showing that blasting for road construction in the region has introduced high levels of free acidity (“low Ph”) and various toxic metals (copper, iron, aluminum, manganese, zinc, etc.) have destroyed aquatic ecological systems including large populations of native trout. And while these highways have improved access to the region, it is not clear that the economic gains of this development have offset the potential value of trout-producing streams and pristine freshwater sources? Has the presence of new highways created significant new economic opportunities in your community? Aside from the coal companies, what economic development has resulted in the creation of good jobs? Or have these highways it simply allowed retailers to haul in products imported from China to sell in their big box stores, while also providing large corporations with greater ease in removing natural resources without reimbursing their true cost to the local communities from where they are being removed?

    The Southern Appalachians are considered to be one of the most bio-diverse regions in the entire world. Even beyond the potential value of freshwater resources (which most economists predict will be the “black gold” of the next century), the plethora of native flora and fauna reveal an extremely rich ecosystem of unrivaled potential. Do you really consider it in the best interests of our generation to allow energy companies (and I am assuming for many, your employer) to profit from the destruction of this ecosystem so that people living in the major cities of the mid-Atlantic and southeastern US can have a cheap and abundant source of cheap power to light up their big screen TVs and air condition their 20K square foot houses? And if so, how exactly do you expect that your grandchildren and great grandchildren will survive when the coal from the mountains has been depleted (estimates at current rates of removal and consumption are between 75-150 years), the trees are gone from the mountain tops, the valleys are filled with rock, and the rivers have all turned orange and black from acid and coal dust?

  22. Gumbrinus (ashamed to use your name),
    Glacial merain deposits was just the easy one. I would love to debate the issues with you although it’s like talking to my brothers kids.
    1. These people claim to be enviros but they tresspass and litter?
    2. We don’t destroy the most valuable and viable natural resource in WV, we use it to power the computer that I am using to respond to your uneducated comments. Yours I’m sure comes from Hydro which we cannot build here.
    3. My drinking water (public) comes from one of the streams you call toxic. People here don’t use surface water for consumption unless it is treated through public works because of the fecal colliform not the iron or acidity. If you were from here you would know that. By the way the fecal colliform isn’t from mining, look it up before you TRY to respond.
    4. You mentioned the aquifers in Appalachia, again if you were from here you would know that the best aquifers are mined out coal seams. In fact, if a PSC isn’t pulling from the toxic surface water they are withdrawing from large mine voids.
    5. If you knew anything about Southern Appalachian culture and heritage you would know it is centered aroud mining and that if it weren’t for mining we would all be the poor welfare recipient we are portrayed as in your movies. It is the only economy that allows us to live here.
    6. You mention rivers running black and orange, I live in and travel all around Southern WV and Eastern KY and would be more than happy to send picture of these rivers at any time to prove to you that this isn’t the case. I’ll send pictures because I know you’ll never be here to see them. Of course you’ll have to create another fake name and email for me to send them to.
    7. As for the biodiversity issue, I wouldn’t expect you to understand, even after I explain it (refering to your earlier comments), but here we go. The diversity you refer to isn’t compromised below the lowest seam mined and the diversity of the entire ecosystem is actually increased due to the introduction of different land uses in the higher elevations. By this (let me put this in 3rd grade language) it’s all deciduious forest (one) before mining and after mining it can be a combination of many thus diverisfying the ecosystem. In many areas trees are planted back and in some the areas are planted as pasture land (cattle farming) or even wildlife habitat. You may not know this either but wildlife eat plants and nuts and there aren’t any nuts in the spring so the have to graze which is hard to do in an old growth forest which is what you want. They need grasses which is where the wildlife habitat comes in.
    8. You asked where exactly am I from, I’m from the heart of the Appalachia you are trying to destroy. Now you tell me where your from!!!!

    One last comment for PETE. I thank you for your concern about what I need to do and I don’t believe I could convince you mining is a good thing but if you would come and see it for yourself I believe you would understand it’s not as bad as they portray. If you compare the impacts of mining to those of urban sprawl in cities you would be amazed at how little impact mining has. Look at google earth and see if you can estimate how much surface has been impacted by mining in WV then look at New York City. You may not like MTR but their our mountains. We have deeds to prove it. We don’t come to your work (assuming you have a job unlike most of the protesters and Gumbrinus) and tell you that whatever it is your doing is wrong and that you should do something else.

  23. ryan,

    ” You mention rivers running black and orange, I live in and travel all around Southern WV and Eastern KY and would be more than happy to send picture of these rivers at any time to prove to you that this isn’t the case.”

    The Martin County spill in 2000 certainly caused rivers and streams to run black (Coldwater Fork, Wolf Creek, Big Sandy, and up to the Ohio River, where I am from). Thirty times more toxic waste was dumped into waterways in that spill than in the Exxon Valdez disaster. Let’s not forget about the Buffalo Creek spill and the TVA spill last year, too. When I was growing up near two coal burning plants, the creek we lived on turned orange for some time due to leaks in the impoundments. Don’t pretend it doesn’t happen. I am from the region too and my word means as much as yours does.

    “You may not like MTR but their our mountains.”

    The mountains are mined by out of state, out of region companies and their subsidiaries. This ain’t no locals-only, mom and pop operation so don’t act like it is. Secondly, what happens in the Appalachian region affects the whole country — we may be regionalists, and this may be a big country, but last time I checked it was called the UNITED States. Fishing issues in the coastal regions affect other areas, farming in the Midwest and California affects the whole country, and so on. The Northeast has poor air quality due to power plants in the Midwest.

    “If you knew anything about Southern Appalachian culture and heritage you would know it is centered aroud mining”

    And if you were a little more honest about Appalachian culture and history, you’d acknowledge that mining companies don’t have a clean record in Appalachia. Our own people have fought against them pretty much since they came in — for labor rights, against the broad form deed, for decent living conditions, and against the various ways mining has altered and changed the landscape. Listen to the hundreds of songs made by Appalachians for the past hundred years about these things, watch the films made by Appalachians about the pros and cons of mining, read the books and poems and essays written by Appalachians recounting the ways that resource extraction by out-state corporations has negatively impacted our homeplaces and culture. Don’t whitewash us as being good little workers who love diggin coal and don’t care much that our standard of living remains behind much of the country.

  24. Playing devils advocate for Ryan Ward…
    I believe he made It clear that you have no ownership to the coal companies land. It’s not yours, it’s not anyone except for the people or companies that hold deed to the land. That’s why you have and will continue to get arrested for trespass. It happens to be fact that those ouyt of state companies pay WV taxes for the property they own. What if I don’t like how you use your land? Should I have the right to dictate how you use your propery?

  25. RYAN,

    I have already seen for myself. I do not live in coal country right now. But I did live in coal country for many years. I grew up playing in abandoned strip mines. I am quite familiar with the surface mining industry. I have seen many active and reclaimed mines. I have never looked at Google maps to look for strip mines. But I have looked at Google maps. And I do know that Google maps generally would not show the difference between a mature deciduous forest and a reclaimed strip mine covered with grass, Scotch pine or Black Locust . Google maps is not a good way to see the effects of surface mining. What you should do instead is look at USGS topographical maps. The updates to these maps are usually colored in purple. Surface mining is depicted with small scribbled lines. I have examined many many countywide topographic maps in Appalachia. I was amazed to see some of the maps with nearly 50% of the land area covered with purple scribbled lines. The total land area in Appalachia laid waste by surface mining is a matter of record. To see it displayed visually on a topographic map is absolutely shocking. So don’t try to tell me that it’s not as bad as they portray. It is. If you don’t see that then you have a problem. I have read all of your comments and I am not going to debate you over the Internet. But I am not afraid in to simply tell you that you are full of crap. Find another job. Stop destroying the planet.

  26. coal supporter,

    ” What if I don’t like how you use your land? Should I have the right to dictate how you use your propery?”

    It’s not about like/dislike. What the companies do on their property affects much more than just that property alone.

    Does the coal company have the right to pollute other people’s property and groundwater, send blasted rock into nearby homes, strip away an area’s topsoil and root system (flood protection), lower property values, bury family cemeteries, build sludge dams that break, and completely change the topography of a region if they pay a high enough tax?

  27. To quote Chuck Holton at on surface mining in West Virginia……Quote …” After hearing both sides, I found good arguments all around. Nobody likes having the mountains where they grew up dismantled and blown apart, and yet our country needs the coal. The coal companies work very hard to put things back once their done and minimize their impact, but they could probably do more. I think the environmentalists sabotage their own argument at times by the vitrolic way they present their case, as if coal companies are inherently malevolent and anyone who disagrees with the anti- mtr croud is in bed with Massey. Thats extremist and just not true, and resonable people know it. I’m also concerned that some of these groups are receiving grants from foundations and perhaps the E P A (indirectly) and then using the money to pay their legal expenses incurred by breaking the law. Something about that doesn’t seem kosher and begs further scrutiny. …..Somebody gets it.

  28. here are a few comments for all y’all:

    first off, greenies – please get the arguements straight. The sandstone that covers the coal here is not really glacial in nature. The glaciers did not come south of the Ohio River. Now, it is old and it is awesome, but it is not glacial.

    y’all wanna holler about private property and tellin’ people what to do on their land? let me come up there and buy some land next to your house or your church and try to open up a porn store and see how you feel about the sanctity of private property rights then.

    The reality is that most of the land that suffers from big MTR and contour strip jobs is owned by huge corporations who have no interest in the local people or economies. They exist to extract wealth from the land and move on. The only reason they let y’all hunt, fish, dig seng or otherwise use the land is they fear the retribution that would happen if they locked y’all out. I bet most of y’all don’t really think about private property when you are drivin’ your 4 wheelers through the woods havin’ a good old time.

    Out of state coal companies are BAD NEIGHBORS. that is the long and the short of it. If Massey is so good for West Virginia why is their corporate HQ in Richmond, VA (not the coalfields) and why are they registered as a corporation in Maryland? Because they would rather hire out of state suits to do their dirty work and they are avoiding paying certain kinds of taxes that’s why. If they really cared about WV they would hire locals to run the corporate HQ and they would register in WV and pay the appropriate taxes and fees. And they would not fight severance taxes because they would be happy to help the state they are plundering.

    The history of coal in Appalachia is one of plunder. The real history is that in the late 1800’s the mountaineers had no interest in coal mining and the coal operators had to bribe and entice blacks from the deep south and immigrants from Eastern Europe to come dig the coal. Why do you think that some of y’all have Polish and Italian last names and not Scots-Irish? They broke the informal hillbilly bartering economy and instituted a cash economy based on company scrip. They burned down courthouses to destroy deeds and they murdered locals who stood up to them. This has all been documented.

    Now, we all know that most of the men and women who do the hard real work in this country (not suit wearing paper pushers) are good Americans who take work seriously and who help their neighbors in times of need. But y’all have bought a line of BS from Massey and their ilk if you think they really care about you. It is against their interest to care about you. They are publically traded companies which means their primary goal is to turn a profit for their investors up on Wall Street (not WV). In fact it is business LAW that says they have to put profit above all other considerations. All the reclaimation work done today is done with the purpose of preserving that profit. Was there reclaimation before 1977? Not hardly. And why do some of the smaller operators go bankrupt and then the suits that ran them reform other companies? To avoid reclaimation costs, that’s why.

    So enough with the company party line. They don’t care about you. They pay you to do a job. That’s all. When the coal runs out or if laws change and MTR is banned they will drop you like a piece of fly rock and be gone.

    On biodiversity: Lespidiza is the primary plant put on mine sites until recently. Its wildlife food alright, for about 2 months when it is short and soft. Nothin’ wants to eat it when it is tall and woody. And again, this so called reclaimation is only done to meet the obligations of the law and preserve the profit potential of the coal operators. Not because they care. They are only planting trees because it turns out to be cheaper (from having less dozer time and not compacting the soil so much).

    MTR and reclaimation does NOT increase biodiversity in the sense that it contributes to a functioning ecosystem. One of y’all was right when you said there is more species. But quantity does NOT make up for quality. Your higher numbers of species comes from invasive exotic species either planted or seeding in. A lot of this stuff will take up space that could be occupied by native species that the local wildlife actually wants to eat. Species counts go up after clearing the forest (if it is not paved or blown up). But that is part of the process of the forest re-establishing itself. So don’t try and argue that raw numbers of biodiversity is better, because that is not necessarily so.

    What is supposed to be here in Southern and Central Appalachia is a diverse forest in different stages of succession and in different topographical positions and aspect. What is NOT supposed to be here is vast table lands of lespidiza, clover and autumn olives. Now, a few hundred acres of that might be good for some elk reintroduction, but 300-500 square miles of that kind of destruction and ecosystem change is unacceptable.

    A lot of y’all are aiding and abetting Massey and their business class allies in the destruction of the most productive temperate hardwood forest on the planet. It is established scientific fact that this forest is crucial to our long term survival here. It makes soil, it regulates and provides clean water, it filters air, it provides habitat for things that are good to eat (deer, ramps, etc…). and its beautiful. y’alls grandkids are goin’ to curse your names for wrecking their ability to sell timber, hunt and fish, dig seng and otherwise live off the land when the oil and coal runs out. maybe you don’t care. I do.

    And just because some of us take a few days, weeks, or years off from working 40 hour jobs for the rich assholes that run (ruin) this country does not mean that we are not productive members of this society. Not all productive work is wage work. Any mother/housewife can attest to that. I have two jobs by the way. Does that make me better than you cause two is more than one? I doubt it. Get real.

    On the jobs issue: Again, if the company cares about you they will keep you employed till you retire. Does that happen anymore? And, there will be plenty of jobs fixing the mess that Massey, etc… has made over the last 100 years when the coal runs out or MTR is stopped by legislation. There will be a need for dozer operators to rip most of the previously “reclaimed” land so that trees can be planted on it. There will be plenty of valley fills that need to be either undone or otherwise manipulated to attempt to restore headwaters stream ecosystem function. There will be ongoing tree planting jobs. And there will be jobs installing wind mills and solar panels. but i’m gonna say it again to make the point: if your boss really cares about you he won’t take away your job just because one of the many methods he uses to mine coal will be made illegal. If you lose your job because of regulation or legislation it is because that company put its corporate profits, Wall Street profits and CEO salaries before you.

    somebody made a comment about cuttin’ down the trees defeating the enviro cause or whatever. Most of us environmentalists KNOW that to live is to take life away from other living things. Eating is a perfect example of this. What you should know is that those tulip poplars that were cut down, likely have enough root energy to resprout and grow again. Based on their size (seen from the photos) they were young enough to resprout (which most hardwoods do unless they are too old). So nobody get their panties in a wad about dead trees, those trees aren’t likely dead. I bet they grew from stump sprouts after the last time that place was logged anyway.

    comment about groups using money from the EPA: that is paranoid and uneducated. EPA does not give money to groups who use civil disobedience as a tactic. civil disobedience campaigns are funded by people who care giving donations out of their own pockets. and the occasional keg party. All that paranoid conspiracy crap about gettin’ money from the Royal Family is just BS.

    Y’all have fun at your Family Friendly Love America rally this weekend with your BRITISH headline speaker and your family friendly wang dang sweet poontang Teddy boy rockin’ out. If you feel like it, please post how you are going to explain to your children what poontang is.

  29. How about this John John. How do you explain running and leaving your “fellow” protesters when I and a few others began showing up? It was you that gave fake credentials of the “press” to Boone Co. Sherriffs and was scared to give your name. At least the women stayed there in what they came to do. You ran. Explain that to your kids.

  30. hey buddy,

    I never gave any fake media credentials to the Boone County Sherriffs or anyone else. Call ’em up and ask ’em. I’ve got Chief Barker’s business card if you need his phone number. Anybody says i tried to give fake press credentials is either uninformed or a liar.

    The only time I avoided giving my full name was to that fat suit who runs the show up there when he came around with his yellow legal pad writin’ names down. And the only reason i did that was to be a dick to the suits (’cause if you are honest with yourself, you know, deep in your heart, THEY are the problem – not Stripers, not Treehuggers, but SUITS) ’cause i knew they would get our names anyway.

    And I was indeed tryin’ to leave the site, not as an act of cowardice (my non-violent protest arrest record speaks for itself), but because i needed to try and reach the media to inform them of the protest. Since all y’all have been studyin’ up on non-violent protest actions and y’all are experts you will know that in the event of high tech communications devices not workin’ properly, there is a role for a “runner” to alert the press.

    now, i did lie to some of y’all the first time I was prevented from leaving. I said i had to take a leak. That was a damned lie. I’m sorry for havin’ to lie to y’all. Altho, honestly, lying to those good christian men who were callin’ me a cocksucker didn’t bother me that much. Lyin’ to Mr. Bateman did bother me, as he was a rather nice fella.

    I think I’ll have more fun tellin’ my future kids about the time we shut down one of the biggest earth raping machines in North America than you will have explainin’ to yours about poontang and all the foul words your fellow miners used against us that day and on this website and others. And why Appalachia was wrecked for the sake of rich people, Wall Street and a few thousand jobs.

    you can try and impeach my honor here, sir, but it will not work.

  31. I don’t think I did anything to your honor, I actually think you improved it. I will correct one thing though, the dragline was already shut down for the day until 6 p.m. so there was no loss time on it. As far as telling my children anything, it will to bless those who curse you, and love thy enemy as yourself.

  32. The fear, the hunger, the poverty, the fear of hunger and poverty, the reality of it, the choices all laid out here. there are two kinds of people, son: the working kind and the starving kind. I am seventh generation American from West by God Virginia, and that means the Old Dominion, too, and I want to share some of my values and beliefs:
    I love a hardworking man who can provide for himself and a family. I respect that and I honor that, be it garbage man, baker, butcher, undertaker, no matter what, writer, artist, and coal miners are a special breed of man, like a chimney sweep, they bring luck if you can get them to smile. they have lived a dangerous and dark work life.
    Coal companies, on the other hand, are liars, thieves, murderers, and I believe they killed the Kennedys, I believe they ousted Van Jones, I believe they launched the largest Disinformation Campaign ever known to mankind, and they continue to lie and lie and lie.
    I don’t believe that coal has to be the only industry in West Virginia, but I believe that WV has been SUPPRESSED and DEPRESSED intentionally so that coal was the only game in town. I watched farms close down, watched drugs pour in, I see young people signing up for war to get out of this place, I watch schools shut down and freeways open– it’s not the people’s fault that they live in the US pantry– with the lights out and the doors shut. The door to WV gets opened so that someone can take something, and when they leave, well, we had jobs and now we have cancer and black lung, we had Christmas presents and Field Day, but the school is buried and Buffalo Creek was buried in the excrement from the processing plant. We had wells and springs, but now we have city water and water bills, that’s progress, right?
    I believe that WV is the size of Texas in surface area and that more than 87% is forest, and I believe that WV supplies the oxygen for the whole Eastern seaboard and the water for the Gulf Fisheries. I believe having access to Clean ground water makes me rich. I believe having hunting grounds and fishing grounds makes me rich. I believe that having forests around me makes me really rich.
    I believe having a job is hogwash. I have worked for myself since I was 13 years old, but I know people who are afraid to live without a boss, job security, paid vacation, sick leave, all that. I am more afraid of having a job, commuting, leaving my children in the care of others and eating fast food than I am of starving or freezing to death. But I understand, if you smoke all day and eat this crap, watch fox swen and drink beer or soda all the time, that you spend your vacations in the hospital and you’re scare to death of losing your job, then it would seem like the right thing to take a little here and there and rebuild the mountains, fit it all out for the elk and deer, make it look pretty again, not the same, maybe better… but “alas! that deep romantic chasm which slanted down the green hill athwart a cedern cover! a savage place as Holy and enchanted as ere beneath the waning moon was haunted by woman wailing for her demon lover”. I believe there is nothing wholesome or right or good to take a rock and crush it and bury a stream with it.
    I believe that real honest scientific reports have found that surface mining destroys the drinking quality of ground water in the area; I believe that is true. I also believe that underground injection sites poison water. I love water. water is my favorite beverage and the main component of my living vessel.
    I have a problem with the concepts around ownership as the right for destruction. Big companies have been doing it forever– they take men and squash them into mice, they destroy plants and animals, mine for whatever doesn’t grow, but what concerns me is the scale of the destruction, the unknown repercussions, the momentum of ignorance and fear and poor judgement, but mostly, when it comes down to it for me, I just don’t feel like there is ever going to be a viable argument against protection of clean ground water, ever, and especially not now.
    I sure don’t want to fight with a WV miner or his loving wife; what I hope for is that miners will want something more for themselves and their futures than a reclaimed site that supports city water and johnson grass. Coal mining isn’t going to last another generation, and only 25 years if they take it ALL.
    I believe that somebody must be making bookoo cash with this MTR stuff and it probably makes Walker Cat’s numbers look like chicken feed, and these great salaries petty cash, but for people who’ve seen generations of welfare, wow, the big truck feels good, the rv’s and the atvs and boat and big screen, satelite and a brand new doublewide feels like home with a soda and a smoke it’s just this little nagging feeling that it won’t last.

  33. and the point about it’s my land, I can destroy it– what about the dog? You can buy a dog, but I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to blow it up, even if the explosion doesn’t actually deliver on the neighbor’s plate glass… isn’t that right? it is illegal to kill your own dog in your own yard– and a dog only lives 9, maybe 15 years and has a range of maybe 14 miles, max, whereas a stream is never-ending with an almost limitless geographical range –part of a connection to Hawaii and Alaska, yet you can legally kill a stream. I don’t get that; it’s messed up.

  34. dragline secheduled for downtime, eh? Thanks for that lovely bit of information.

    I guess that means the majority of Massey’s claim of financial harm is bunk.

    btw, Sarah Beth, your rant was beautiful and inspired and I hope you find other venues to post it.

  35. Mr Johnson…. The Internal Revenue Service web site states: A section 501 (C ) (3 ) organization may NOT have purposes for,or activities that are ILLEGAL or violate public policy. I think Mr Holton said ” indirectly” nevertheless tax money not paid. You sir are true to your colors,as the red shines thru your green exterior like a communist beacon . Ms Cowgill, and you are birds of a feather, therefor please fly away .

  36. what, now i’m a red because I have the temerity to question your Free Market God?

    and what’s the point with your IRS code? Who exactly is violating this law?

    whatever. your request that I fly away will not be honored, sir. In fact, since you can’t seem to handle differences of opinion around policy, natural resource management or even your God Mammon, I would request that you fly away to China or some other place where policy disagreements are against the LAW that you so obviously worship (if it benefits your Free Marketeer/Bankster interests).

    you people are ruining this country more than any so called red could ever hope to.

  37. I can fly, and see with a birds eye view and be a Red Tail Hawk, a Great Horned Owl, I can give a hoot, and I can swoop; I told you already I was born here and my people before me were born here, and you can wish me away, but I am only out of view for a few minutes– maybe you will hear my call. I tell you Appalachia is rising and I will keep flying high and taking the high road. I will not ask you to leave, but to find in your heart to stay, to stay by your land and your water and your incredible resources here in our land, our home.
    We are here, in this together, and we need to work together to preserve what is beautiful and honest and good, and quit calling each other names and putting each other down and playing silly blaming games– there are solutions and we are strong, surviving people and we can over come our fears and move past this age of fighting and destruction. We just need to do it now, take one little step toward another way of earning a living, maybe buying some stock in this new photovoltaic energy cell created by Lockheed, or these incredibly efficient helix turbines, learning how to hardwire a solar system, a battery system, passive heating and cooling architecture, better water heating systems, small scale efficient timber production, mushroom production, I mean there are so many ways to use our Temperate Rainforest for medicinals, dyes, foodstuff, gourmet items… we are the solution, and we need to get busy and stop this nonsense fighting.
    Where is the closest spring to your house and get the water tested and protected. where is the biggest tree to your work? You know the largest oak tree ever lived in Mingo county– in Delbarten, so close to what will be the biggest MTR site as of yet?? what a crime that all the trees, the babies from that giant oak might be destroyed forever. it is a crime. How could I fly away and leave this situation,? to turn my back and leave would also be a crime– in negligence try not to be afraid of change. stay willing to learn, and grow, and fly.

  38. Civil disobediance funding from people who care, and keg parties ? How about more like…. The Sierra Club, Ben and Jerrys, Patagonia Clothing , The Ford Foundation . Acorn Foundation ,Beldon Fund , Common Council , Piper Fund ,Tides Foundation , I could go on…. Who is breaking the I R S tax code?….. O V E C , C R M W , Mountain Action , Climate Ground Zero I could go on. Since your groups are so interested in taxes and the paying thereof, it’s time we become more interested in their tax status .

  39. Watcher,

    you crack me up buddy.

    If civil disobedience was bein’ funded by all those rich fuckers you mentioned above then MTR, old-growth logging, illegal whaling, and most other pollution would be OVER and done with as the resources would be available to mount a full scale non-violent shutdown of all of the above. Hell, if we had the Sierra Club’s money, Mikey would be Prez and I would be in charge of the US Forest Service. And you and Donny B would have full time, good payin’ jobs plantin’ trees on MTR sites.

    Your intel skills are pathetic. And given the level of Donny B’s paranoia around the great liberal global warming conspiracy, i’m not surprised that it has rubbed off on you. if i had to guess, i’d say that you’ve got that silly and outdated activist cash website bookmarked as your homepage. Do you huddle over it at night drooling about the millions of dollars the tree huggers have at their disposal to end civilization as we know it?

    have fun challenging the non-profits with the IRS. People more powerful than you have tried in the last decade and they really just a spent a lot of money to force a few of the non-profits to post their financial records on their websites. oooo, major victory and hassle there buddy. Best check your list of non-profits too there bucko, it may not be entirely like you think it is.

    you sure you don’t need to see a shrink for your fear and paranoia problem? (not to mention your desire to express your voyueristic tendencies?).

    get a grip man, big business runs this place and all your fantasies about how well heeled we aren’t changing that, tho i certainly wish it was otherwise.

  40. Non profit fraud crack down coming June 2010 , courtesy the I R S . The Tresury Inspector General for tax administration report states that commitments have been made to start cracking down on bogus, defective or NON COMPLIANT non profits by June 2010. You can expect the audits to start around then.

  41. Mr. Johnson, really you need to respect what you say about your Creator. If not, you are damaging what many of these protesters are saying is why they feel the way they do. It is no wonder why when I have spoken to others that were with you in June, they actually were in there words “disturbed” with your actions. Oh and I have been in contact with someone that was there and they say your claim of running to the media is as bogus as you trying to hide your fear in recognizing you serve a true and living God. Please sir the actions that are disturbing are yours. You are using the profanity, it’s merely due in your fear of facing your Master in time. So please, if you and others are going to seek civil dialogue, try being respectful, even your own are sickened by your gross comments.

  42. Progress Miner,

    what are you talking about?

    others disturbed by my actions? prove it. name the names. put up or shut up. And any of the 14 reading this can get in touch with me and tell me what they think.

    don’t tell me how to dialogue, sir. You and your ilk have attempted to defined the terms of “civil” dialogue on this issue and y’alls idea of that is to threaten, harass, intimidate and harangue. I am following y’alls lead and giving it back. Seems you can’t take it.

    did you see fear in my eyes on June 18th? No you did not. Not even when 2 of your good christian buddies threatened to beat my ass (their words). And you saw nothing in my eyes but sadness when i attempted a reasonable conversation with your fellow miners and the best those good Christians could come up with was to question my sexuality in the most crude terms possible.

    Your call for respect will be honored sir, when you and your comrades give it. Did I call any of the men on the site that day crude names. No I did not. And have I taken an arguementative tone on this discussion board? Yes. That’s the tone set by the pro-MTR crowd and that is the tone set by your Republican overlords in Talk Radio and on Fox News. Y’all are the ones who called the tune and now you want to whine about how some of us are dancin’ to it? Gimme a break.

    you, sir, are a liar (with all due respect) and your attempts to paint me as some sort of coward are pathetic. your attempts at division are pathetic. Just like watcher’s attempts to instill fear are pathetic.

    And don’t accuse me of dissing your God. I have said nothing here about your religion. I have, however, dissed the so called watcher and his god – Mammon. And I will continue to diss all who bow before and worship profit and money over people and the planet. If you are so concerned with the message of Jesus Christ than you should spend more time dealing with your own house (the Church) and the hypocrites who spew hate in his name and less about trying to get the rest of us to believe the same as you.

    Speaking of God, since you brought Him up, why don’t you take a moment and reflect on how mountaintop removal fits into God’s mandate to be a good steward of his creation. And please reflect on how lying about someone’s intents and actions fit into Jesus’s mandate to love thy neighbor as thy self.

  43. If i got under your skin…well Good Job me. NO sir you didn’t not speak crudely or in any way towards me. I thank you for that. I do not understand if you are so bothered why do you use the terms that you do. Oh and btw being a steward of His creation, I’m just waiting on the New Earth, you understand right? Conviction rules.

  44. Hey progress miner , this site used to be teaming with support for their side, wonder what happened? Y’all have a great day…..Watcher.

  45. you boys have fun pattin’ yourselves on the back.

    ’cause the fear and division you have sown is so real and soul-crushing this website is about to crash.

    please have mercy, declare victory and ease off. I’m used to questioning my own actions, but now i am questioning my very existence! please, stop, one more made up comment about cowardice, cursing or the IRS and my brain is going to melt.

    your persistant internet attacks, coupled with the Massey lawsuit, i’m doomed, done, fried, toast. i quit, y’all win, the power of your words, logical arguements and outright lies and threats have made me see the light.

    please, i have to go to the shrink now.

    ps. if this missave is sorta confusing, there is a word in the dictionary that starts with s and ends with m that you might want to look up. No, not S and M, get your mind out of the gutter, get a grip man!

  46. I know what it is, it is your ineligible mind getting at you. You are so mad because there is someone that has a tendency to pay you attention. Did you not get much through years? Look Mr. Johnson I really think your a nice guy. I thought that from day one at the mines. If it does bother you that I have been respectful, well you just have to get over it. Maybe my parents did something you have been ranting about>>>TEACH me something. Oh and God commands me to be respectful. So yeah you are right, if God be for us, who can be against us? So maybe I do win. I don’t take the accolades, I cast my crown to Jesus. Tell the farmer and Lynn I say hello.

  47. Everybody gets upset and sometimes uses language to express the strength of the frustration. If you are so up and righteous, you know that forgiveness is the only way to the Kingdom, and you could just look over the momentary passion and see how frustrating it is for us to have all this Misinformation repeated over and over. Don’t let the coal companies fool you into believing their campaign is gospel. How can a God Fearing person desecrate the earth in such a horrible manner? how could a God Fearing person destroy the drinking water of his own people?
    Jesus said that the lofty speech isn’t pleasing to God, so don’t think that just by eliminating profane language while destroying the garden is putting you in favor with the Maker. If you listen closely, you will hear God telling you what to do, to quit fighting, to love one another and to take care of each other– I think that means not polluting the water downstream, not killing all the trees and micro=organisms in the soil, you know, just for cash.
    And some people will have to be further on the margin than others, so they will be under more pressure and some people may talk– I assure you the talk about Jesus wasn’t all good either, but that didn’t make him wrong.
    even good logic on faulty premises is unsound; try to recenter your thinking from the unhewn stone and see that God is here, in these hills and He will guide us, if we listen, and wants us to prosper, but not at the desecration of our gifts… there will be better jobs ahead, fear not, hold onto your Maker and please stop fighting us, we are trying to help you.
    Coal is over, it’s just a matter of time now. Start looking for a better, more sustainable lifestyle, and drink clean water.

  48. Sarah……..Thanks but no thanks, we don’t want nor need your help , but you might tell our elderly on fixed incomes a better more sustainable way of paying the extra $1,700.00 a year just to live under Mr. Obama’s Crap & Tax plan

  49. Finally! Group to lose it’s 501(c) tax exempt status for unlawful act’s. Acorn going down, look out Climate Ground Zero.

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