Update From Climate Ground Zero’s Mike Roselle

no 4 house


Dear friends and colleagues,

Thank you for all of the nice birthday wishes. Your love and support helps to sustain me through the tough times. Just checking in and sharing a little news. Please read, like and share.

We are awaiting the final decision by the Army Corps on the mountain top removal permit for Coal River Mountain, as we have it seems for the last eight years. We are keeping busy working in the community. Since Don Blankenship’s indictment and Alpha Natural Resources’s Chapter 11 filling the angry opposition of groups like Friends of Coal have all but disappeared and Climate Ground Zero and Coal River Mountain Watch are now able to create some important middle ground on the future of the Coal River. We have not only been outnumbering industry supporters at hearings and court sessions, the local press is providing much better coverage of our work in print and on TV.

The rate of mountain top removal coal mining, despite many reports to the contrary, has not been significantly affected by low coal prices and it seems that every day we hear of a new MTR permit application. We still have a big fight on our hands.

As you know, for the last ten years, we have have maintained a residence and headquartes here in Rock Creek in three rehabilitated abandoned mining cabins on about two acres of property along the Coal River. We also have enough room and facilities to host both large and small groups for extended periods of time. Thousands of people have come here to learn about the problems faced by these Appalachian communities and hundreds have taken action.

Over the last few years all of the outside groups have left and we remain the only visible symbol of outside interest. We still get plenty of visitors, press, film makers, and activists. The locals know the place very well and have long called this place the Treehugger House and even give directions by it. We have survived repeated attacks by coal industry supportes, police raids and threat by the County to condem our buildings. But we are not leaving.

At the beginning of August my landlord came by and informed me that they want to list this property for sale with a real estate agent. I asked for a thirty day delay to raise the money and now need to come up with the funding quickly.

The old man Tabor, who built these three houses, was going to give me this place, but when he died three years ago his daughter said that deal was off the table but they would honor their father and give me a below market price in recognition of all the work we have done to restore these three once abandoned and dilapidated buildings. These six lots have a river view, are close to the new Marsh Fork Elementary school and are zoned commercial. Probably worth about $75,000 on the market.They are asking for $30,000 in cash. So far, I have been able to raise $20,000 for their purchase but I need to raise $10,000 more in the next few weeks or we risk losing this place. If sold, they would almost certainly tear these historic cabins down.

I plan to stay here until MTR is banned forever. I would appreciate any assistance you could offer to help me keep the promise I made when I first arrived here over a decade ago. We must keep this coal in the ground and we must protect these communities and headwaters of some of the country’s largest rivers which supply drinking water to two thirds of the nation’s population. We have lost over two million acres of native forests and buried over two thousand miles of streams. It time for this to stop.

So I have to move fast. I’m asking my friends if they can help come up with some of this money. I don’t want to get a mortgage as that will add considerable costs. I need your help. If you can donate a $100, $500 or a $1,000 that would get us closer to our goal. Any amount will help.

For the mountains.

Mike Roselle

You can make a check payable to the American Forest Alliance, 11 Salem Hill Road, Weaverville, North Carolina, 28787 or go to our website @ climategroundzero.org and hit the donate button. Don’t allow them to run us out of town.

Welcome to the Hotel West Virginia


Welcome to the Hotel West Virginia.


“I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land.” As we commemorate the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday I can’t help thinking of these words. King was doing more here than making a biblical reference. He was from the plains of Georgia, and although he grew up in Atlanta he was familiar with the mountains of Appalachia, which lay just beyond the city limits. Martin Luther King Jr had a passion for hiking hunting and fishing, instilled in him by his father and he knew something about mountains. Certainly he understood that just as with the labor struggles, many of the civil rights movements most important battles were waged in the mountains of Appalachia, and the soil here was soaked in blood. He knew the hardship of Appalachian life, and how the system was maintained by violence and corruption. He understood these mountains.



Were he alive today I believe, he would be shocked by what he would see. The mountain top is gone, the valley filled with mining waste and the water lifeless. I believe he would also be very angry about what is going on in West Virginia, and, like Mother Jones did a half a century earlier, he would have stood with those who chose to fight this injustice.


When I heard about the spill at the Freedom Industries facility in Charleston I was not surprised. The town was built to spill, and it spills every day. It is not called Chemical Ally for nothing. Every once in a while a really bad spill will happen. People will get their shorts up in a knot, they will get scared, they might even demand new regulations. And after a few months they will forget. No matter what gets dumped into the water, no matter how many of Charleston’s citizen get poisoned, no matter how much outrage is voiced by the public and the politicians, nothing ever changes.


This was no accident. The Coal and Chemical industry owns all of our crooked politicians, all of our Judges and have captured every State agency created to reign them in. They own the media. They hold their workforce hostage. Work for us or work at the Little General and make sausage biscuits for us at $6.00 an hour. There is no other show in town and they want to keep it that way. We can get a billion dollar freeway here with federal dollars but we can’t get any money to do anything other than to mine more coal. Why does a state like West Virginia, with an inordinate share of the Earth’s natural wealth, live in toxic poverty?




Will this tragedy be any different? Will West Virginians finally stand up for themselves and throw these rascals out?


It is too soon to answer that question. One thing is for certain, this spill will not easily be swept under the carpet as so many others have. We have been doing some research on the chemical, and the processes for which it is used. It is for the most part unstudied and unregulated but everyone up here in the hollers knows something about it and why it was brought in. White plastic boxes of it are located throughout the Coal River and I have spoken to neighbors who have hauled it, pumped it and cleaned up after it. A few drops a minute will clear up a muddy creek. Full strength, it will eat through your boots, and it eats through the hoses used to pump it. It is a super solvent, meant to bond with solids so that last bit of burnable coal can be separated from the slurry that would otherwise be dumped into the shaft of an old coal mine.


The chemical that leaked into the Elk River is called 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or, MCHM, and is dumped by the hundreds of gallons every day on the Coal River, where the coal is cleaned, if indeed any part of this process could be said to be clean. The major difference this time is that instead of dumping it at the top of the watershed it was dumped directly into the intake pipe of Charleston’s water treatment plant. Only time will tell what effects this will have on the people or the river, but they will be long term.


MCHM is used for many purposes, mixed with other chemicals, and may bond with chorine to create chlorinated hydrocarbons in tap water.  It cannot easily be flushed out of the system, some of it will remain for months. Again, the paucity of research on MCHM makes many of these questions unanswerable but in Charleston the cry for answers grows louder each day as mothers are told it is safe to drink the water but not to bathe their child in it. And then, in the next breath they are told that if they are pregnant they should not drink the water …


In Washington on Wednesday speaking to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, West Virginia’s  senator, Joe Manchin was still doing the same song and dance in front of his bosses. “You feel like everyone’s turned against you.”  he said to his friends who own the tanks and chemical plants in his district, clearly feeling their pain. The very next day he expanded on the theme, declaring “West Virginia is a heavy lifting state — coal mining and chemical manufacturing, if it weren’t for the resources we had here, you wouldn’t have industrial might, you wouldn’t have the middle class.”



So there you have it. We all live down stream, but the people and the mountains that are being enslaved and plundered upstream are to be sacrificed for this entitlement, the middle class, which is now itself disappearing because these same industries will go to wherever they can make the most money, and have to contend with the fewest environmental and labor regulations.

Kicking the chemical and coal habit will not come without costs. For over two hundred years an occupation as harsh and brutal as any today is still in progress. A people are held hostage. Yet as we can now plainly see this is about more than the plight of Appalachia. What happens on the Coal River does not stay on the Coal River. That chemical, that mercury, that carbon, it does not stay here. You are eating and breathing it if you live anywhere on this planet. Charleston resident Eric Waggoner in a recent blog post put it this way,  explain his reaction to the leak “This was not the rational anger one encounters in response to a specific wrong, nor even the righteous anger that comes from an articulate reaction to years of systematic mistreatment.  This was blind animal rage, and it filled my body to the limits of my skin….Having been made to endure poisoned Air, Earth, and Water, we ought to be mindful of that history, and make sure that history goes with us, always, into the voting booth, into the streets, into the home, into the wider world. Otherwise, to steal a line from the old hymn—and don’t we love our Jesus, our stories of noble suffering around here—we’ll all of us, residents and politicians and operators alike, find ourselves standing in the Fire Next Time.

When reasonable, law abiding citizens like Waggoner can be moved to such levels of outrage, there is hope. One gets the feeling he will never walk away from this fight. Welcome to the Hotel West Virginia. You can check in, but you can never leave. He has been to the mountain top, and it was gone, yet still he can see the promised land and can point a way forward. He understands that we will not get there without a fight.


The first step in getting rid of this deadly chemical is to stop the blasting of mountain tops for coal in the first place, and to shut these mines down for good. That is why we are working to pass the ACHE Act, http://acheact.org/ in this years congress. Together we can save the mountains we have left. Please log on and check it out.


Mike Roselle
Climate Ground Zero
Rock Creek, West Virginia

URGENT Action Alert — Contact Governor Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to ask for Climate Ground Zero Director Mike Roselle’s immediate release from jail and that the sample of dust collected from a mountain top blasting site be analyzed by WV DEP — URGENT Action Alert

Recap of Climate Ground Zero action that put Mike Roselle in jail these last four days since Thanksgiving.

The vigil began on Monday  November 24 on the steps of West Virginia’s State Capitol, Charleston.  Climate Ground Zero activists laid a banner that read “Mountain Blasting Kills” on the steps to the Liberty Bell replica and placed two containers of  dust, coal, shale, and toxic residue spoils left behind on the stumps of mountains blasted by the coal companies.

The point was that the spoils they carried from mountain top removal rampages were callously and illegally left behind,  the residues of blasting powder to infiltrate the  soil, water,  food, property, businesses, schools — the very air breathed every moment of every day — in Appalachia.  Specifically, the three brought the dust collected to hand over to the lawmakers  and to the WV Department of Environmental Protection for analysis.  They stood vigil quietly for four days in the cold and snow to hand over the toxic samples they had gathered for  the WV DEP for analysis and proof to state lawmakers as evidence that the Coal companies are violating federal and state laws.

On Thursday November 28, instead of celebrating Thanksgiving at home in Rock Creek, West Virginia, Mike Roselle (ironically choosing to fast for the duration of the action), Guin McGuinnes, and Mike Cherin held fast as they continued to wait patiently to hand deliver the dust to state officials.  Thursday afternoon, the activists moved their vigil to the publicly owned and maintained Governor’s mansion, hoping to present the samples to him at home, or at least to leave the substance on his doorstep.  Upon pressing the door bell, Roselle engaged in a brief description by intercom about why they were there with a voice from inside the mansion who said someone would be with him shortly.

Indeed, a capitol security official and then police officers were with them shortly, told Roselle to pick up the jar on the doorstep and take it away.  After coming all this way with the sample for the state lawmakers, scientists, and now the governor, Roselle refused to pick up the jar, and said he was not going to take the dust back to Rock Creek, whereupon he was arrested.

The charges are disorderly conduct (he never raised his voice and behaved in a civil and soft-spoken manner) and trespass (there is no gate or guard at the entrance to the governor’s mansion and he did not refuse to leave).  Bail was set at $20,000 ($10,000 for each exaggerated charge).  In addition, counsel has been refused access to his client — an egregious violation of Roselle’s civil rights.

Now, everyone who lives in Appalachia knows that more than six million tons of ammonium nitrate diesel fuel explosives are detonated six days each week to extract an infinitely modest amount of coal as mountain tops are blasted away.  When the dust settles, it contains everything from  mercury, lead, arsenic, various heavy metals, polyaromatichydrocarbons, pulverized silica , partially combusted coal and shale, and even radiation.  They can only hope that justice will be done and the coal companies will be forced to stop mountain top blasting and threatening the health of each and every resident in the communities affected by toxic coal dust raining down on them from the blasts.

It is time for mountaintop removal to end.  The onus is upon the state government to mandate that the coal companies cease and desist blasting mountains, poisoning people, air, water, soil, wildlife and destroying the quality of life for every person in Appalachia.

Please contact WV governor and tell him that Mike Roselle should be released immediately, that he speaks for the people, that he must direct WVDEP to analyze the sample,  and that the heavily sponsored ACHE Act (HR526, the  Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act) can end mountaintop removal and will save countless lives when passed.

Contact Governor Earl Ray Tomblin

Governor’s Mansion:
(304) 558-3588


Contact Address:
Office of the Governor
State Capitol
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East
Charleston, West Virginia 25305

Office Telephone:
(304) 558-2000 or 1-888-438-2731

Twitter:  @GovTomblin

Sample letter:

Dear Governor Earl Ray Tomblin,

I  am writing on behalf of Mike Roselle and Climate Ground Zero, who is being held in jail on trumped up charges of trespass and disorderly conduct for simply trying to deliver a sample of the toxic dust left behind from mountain top removal blasting by coal companies.   Bail was assigned at $20,000, a ludicrous $10,000 for each erroneous charge.  I ask that you immediately direct that he be released from jail.  Everyone has seen the video footage of his arrest and he was quite orderly, polite, soft-spoken, civil and forthright in his request.  There is no gate or guard post at the governor’s mansion and Mr. Roselle was not trespassing.

In addition, I request that you direct the DEP to test the dust samples delivered by Mr. Roselle for analysis.  Furthermore, they should be directed send a sample to an independent testing facility to analyze the dust.  Climate Ground Zero states that upwards of 20 published, peer-reviewed, scientific, professional papers have all concluded that the blasting carried out by the coal companies is a health hazard for lung and other diseases, cancer, birth defects, and shortened life expectancy.

Finally, I urge you to get behind the heavily sponsored ACHE Act (HR526, the  Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act) which can end mountaintop removal and will save countless lives when passed.

Thank you,

[Your name]

You are invited to cut and paste this letter into the “your comments” section at the bottom of the page,  or write one of your own in your own words, and/or call.  It is important to contact the governor to demand Climate Ground Zero director Mike Roselle’s immediate release.  Thank you for helping the people of the Appalachians.

Other ways to help:

Call the West Virginia Regional State Jail,  1001 Centre Way, Charleston, WV 25309-1001


Call or contact the WV EPA:

PHONE (304) 926-0499

FAX (304) 926-0458