Photo Essay: Kayford Mountain Lock Down

8 Activists Arrested at Kayford Mountain Lock Down
Antrim Caskey

Kayford, WV — Eight activists with a coalition of groups including Mountain Justice and Climate Ground Zero walked on to the Patriot Coal mountaintop removal coal operation on Larry Gibson’s Kayford mountain in the early morning hours of March 23, 2009. Six of the protestors locked themselves, in groups of three, to a piece of massive earth moving equipment–referred to as a Yuke–with tires 24′ tall and hung a banner reading “Never Again” on the machine. The activists locked down for five hours. Ten officers from three different state and county authorities responded to the protest on Kayford, the largest number of people to be arrested during this sustained campaign of non violent civil disobedience that began in February, 2009.

The eight activists arrested include Kim Kirkbride, Ash-Lee Henderson, Tanya Turner, Jared Story, Willie Dodson, Will Wickham, Mathew Louis-Rosenberg, and Glenn Collins.

The activists were arrested and taken to Boone County seat at Madison, were processed and released on their own recognizances.

Kayford Mountain Action, May 23, 2009 - Images by antrim caskey

Crackdown on Coal

Mike Roselle and James McGuinness shut down massey Energy on Cherry Pond mountain in southern West Virginia, February 25, 2009.  photograph (c) antrim caskey, 2009
Mike Roselle and James McGuinness shut down massey Energy on Cherry Pond mountain in southern West Virginia, February 25, 2009. photograph (c) antrim caskey, 2009

ROCK CREEK, WVa — The gig is up on mountaintop removal coal mining. The Obama administration has spoken out on the issue for the first time. Today, Lisa Jackson, director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced plans to place a hold on hundreds of permits for mountaintop removal coal mining, for review, to determine the “effects on streams and wetlands.”

It’s an excellent first step towards ending the appalling practice of obliterating the ancient, forested Appalachian mountains and running out her people who’ve lived and depended upon the bounty of these hills for centuries.

But what about the hundreds of permits that have been granted already?  It will take at least five years for active permits to run their course of destruction. With only 3% – 5% of post-mined lands reclaimed, cleaning up after Massey Energy in Appalachia is a shovel ready proposition.

Today’s announcement is certainly a harbinger for positive change but today’s announcement does not stop the three million pounds of explosives used in mountaintop removal operations every day in West Virginia. Today’s announcement does not stop the blasting on Cherry Pond mountain and the toxic aftermath that rains down on Bo, JoAnne, Danny and Rosa.

We now need to halt all mountaintop removal operations. Shut them down.

Five more arrested protesting Massey Energy mountaintop removal, blasting near sludge dam above Marsh Fork Elementary

Contact: Nicole Motson – 304-854-1937

March 05, 2009

photograph by antrim caskey
photograph by antrim caskey

Five more arrested protesting Massey Energy mountaintop removal, blasting near sludge dam above Marsh Fork Elementary

Around 1:30 today, just three days after the Power Shift Conference and Capitol Climate Action in Washington, DC, and less than a week after Raleigh County Circuit Judge John A. Hutchison granted Massey Energy’s Temporary Restraining Order against Mike Roselle and other members of Climate Ground Zero, a new group of protesters took action to bring a halt to mountaintop removal mining on Massey Energy’s Edwight mountaintop removal coal site above Marsh Fork Elementary in Sundial, WV.
Building upon the momentum of the conference, the growing movement against mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining and the urgency of protecting the children at Marsh Fork Elementary from the pending danger of a massive dam failure of the Shumate sludge impoundment above the school, activists were once again arrested during a protest on the Edwight MTR site.  This time however, was different.
Displaying a banner stating “STOP BLASTING, SAVE THE KIDS” atop Massey Energy’s Edwight MTR site, all 5 were arrested and charged with trespassing. Among the group were Joe Gorman, a student from West Virginia University, Cassandra Rice a native of Fairmont, WV, Andrew Munn of University of Michigan and member of Student Environmental Action Coalition, Nicole Moston a freelance videographer and Mat Louis-Rosenberg of the group Mountain Justice.

Since 2005, local citizens have demanded that Marsh Fork Elementary School be moved to protect the children from a massive dam failure like the one that happened in Harriman, Tennessee on December 22 of last year.  The Schumate Dam holds back 2.8 billion gallons of toxic coal waste in a sludge pond above the Marsh Fork Elementary School and upriver from the towns of Whitesville and Sylvester in the Coal River Valley, about an hour from Beckley, WV.  If the dam were to fail, students and teachers at Marsh Fork would have less than a minute to get upriver before being lost under the rushing toxic spill.

Thursday’s protest shows that the concern for the health and future of southern West Virginia’s mountains and residents spans across the state and even across the nation.  It also shows that not only an isolated group of residents and activists that oppose MTR, but increasingly more people are moved to the point of personally standing up to the coal companies in order to bring more attention to the inherent dangers and destruction that come with mountaintop removal coal mining.

“Personally I see this as an act of violence. It’s violence against nature and an act of violence toward the people who live here. Ethically it’s wrong, and it’s not even economically viable anymore. It’s just wrong on all fronts.” says Cassandra Rice.

Joe Gorman,  “I believe this is the most important battle facing West Virginia.  MTR specifically is the most horrific means of destroying jobs, health, and communities. When the coal is gone, I want there to be jobs for my children and grandchildren.”

Andrew Munn stated “Just across that valley is Coal River Mountain. There’s a dream on that mountain – wind energy promises long term prosperity to the community here. That’s why I’m here. The kids at Marsh Fork – the communities all around Coal River Valley – they deserve better than another destroyed mountain and the dangers that come with it.”

To which Mat Lewis-Rosenberg added, “When you combine that with the danger of going to school below a massive sludge dam, it’s obvious that Massey Energy needs to stop blasting the mountains now, and enable the development of safer and more economically stable alternatives.”

Today’s protest stands as a symbol of the growing movement against MTR.  Over 150 residents from West Virginia joined a hundred other Appalachian residents at last weekend’s Power Shift Conference, which was marked by a substantial focus on mountaintop removal coal mining.  Thousands of protesters stood in solidarity at the conference with those being impacted by MTR and cheered Judy Bonds of Rock Creek, WV as she spoke of what was happening in southern West Virginia.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. was also interviewed on the national Fox News network wearing a Coal River Mountain Wind button and spoke in great detail about the issues facing Appalachia. “”I flew over these mountains and I saw what [the coal companies] were doing and if the American people could see what I saw there would be a revolution in this country.?? We don’t have to go to Appalachia and cut down the mountains and poison our children and subvert our democracy.  We can get cheap, abundant energy from the heaven and that’s the way America oughta be.”
full Powershift speech from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Area resident Bo Webb stated, “This assault by Massey Energy on our mountains and surrounding communities will no longer be tolerated.  Our rights have been stripped aside as our mountains have been stripped away.  Americans of good conscience everywhere have been taking notice and now they are taking action.”