Breaking: Climbers Up on 20-Story Piece of Mining Equipment Protesting Mountaintop Removal

Written by Scott Parkin

Topics: Coal

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COAL RIVER VALLEY, W. VA.—Moments ago, four concerned citizens entered onto Massey Energy’s mountaintop removal Dragline like the one that activists are on now!mine site near Twilight WV and have begun to scale a 150-foot dragline machine to drop a banner that says, ‘stop mountaintop removal mining.’ The climbers plan to stay on the enormous dragline, a massive piece of equipment that removes house-sized chunks of blasted rock and earth to expose coal, until police arrest them. Equipped with satellites phones and a web camera, the climbers will be available for interviews.


This is the first time a dragline has been scaled on a mountaintop removal site, and marks the latest in a string of increasingly dramatic protests in West Virginia by residents and allies from across the country. This act of protest against mountaintop removal comes just days after the Obama Administration announced a plan to reform, but not abolish, the aggressive strip mining practice.

more updates and photo/video coming later today. stay posted at and on

21 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. kelly osborne says:

    God forbid one of these people who take action to benefit others ever stops caring enough to sit idly by and do nothing. Mountain top removal is destoying the Appalachian Mts. and the lives of those who live there. The “idiots” are those who believe this is not a time to be courageous and to push for what is right.

  2. SR says:

    No Mining in WV means NO JOBS! NO JOBS MEANS POVERTY among the people that remain in Central Appalachia. People will have to leave Central Appalachia in search of employment! Now tell me again who is this going to help? I actually live in WV unlike many of the protesters. This just doesn’t add up.

  3. car man says:


  4. Ilove coal says:

    Coal mining has been around for years and if you people think your stupid protesting is going to stop that your crazy all your doing is stiring in a bees nest we all here in West Virginia love our minier and support them and they work very hard to keep your light on and support there families and probably yours too I mean how was you able to sent those people here for so long they must be on welfar get a life people find something else to do other than mess with families and there jobs. Go huge a faggot and tell them you love them or something make there day lmao

  5. Sensible One says:

    Wouldn’t it make better sense to protect the natural resources of the area, like the mountains, trees, and streams, that sustain life in the area, rather than to destroy it from the top down?

    Those who have commented posts here about the fear of losing jobs, I understand. But what good are those jobs if in the creation of those jobs, you are destroying your health, the environment that you live and raise your children in, and the planet we all share through the continued excavation and use of coal products.

    Wouldn’t a better idea be to nurture the awesome beauty and gifts that God has provided to you by showing respect and gratitude. What if jobs could be created by more tourism dollars which in turn would bring in more businesses and more tourists to keep the cycle going? What about other sustainable energy projects? Has anyone of you considered the idea that there may be a better way to provide jobs and protect the blessings that you live amongst?

    Coal is not the answer to your local employment problems, nor our national energy problems.

  6. Rick says:

    I love the short-sighted selfishness of most of these commentators. It’s all about jobs, selling their wares to miners, etc., and keeping the miners in a state of coal-industry “welfare” in what should be a dying, dinosaur technology. You WV-ers may like living in a flat enviro-wasteland, but the rest of us are living for the day when coal is DEAD — and those miners can get jobs in other fields, like green technology.

    Join this century, people! Or is that too much to ask of West Virginia?

  7. Steve says:

    The West Virginia mountains are owned by all people, not just you WV locals who want nothing more out of them than to lop off their tops for some coal, the burning of which is destroying our very planet (and our futures).

    Fat, stupid and short-sighted is no way to go through life.

  8. Craig Nazor says:

    OK, West Virginia miners, what are you going to do when the coal is gone? What are you going to do in the toxic wasteland of mine refuse left behind? What happened to the streams and the forests? How are you going to explain that to your children in the 100º+ sun? Do you think the coal companies care about what you will then do?

    This is called penny-wise and dollar foolish. It is also called fiddling while the earth burns. There has got to be another way – I don’t think humans were put on this earth to destroy it.

  9. SR says:

    Not surprised that most posts appear to be written from people outside the State of WV. Its easy to ignore simple economic growth and development when you don’t understand the big picture. I think people that do not understand surface mining and have never seen with their own eyes what a reclaimed mine looks like not to mention the millions of Chestnut trees that are planted each year.

    By only looking with a narrow mind and at negative pictures that are shown can skew the sharpest of minds.

  10. turrburr says:

    Rather than huge corporations removing coal with the minimum number of jobs possible, better to join the protestors to shut down the large scale strip minining and set up worker owned and controlled mining, using methods that don’t destroy our water and forrests.

    Wouldn’t that be better if the community owned and operated the mines? Keeping the money in town rather than dividends to shareholders that don’t care whether we live or die.

  11. Vernon Haltom says:

    I live in WV next to a mountaintop removal site. Please folks, don’t think locals like MTR. It destroys our water, air, communities, planet, etc. etc. The REAL outsiders are these out of state coal companies, such as Massey, Arch, Consol, etc. and their Wall Street bankers (read bailout, corporate welfare, etc.) plundering the mountains and communities. I welcome all residents of this planet to stand up against mountaintop removal. By the way, everyone I know fighting MTR is either working, retired (on money they EARNED), or a student (also working, for those who think college is easy). The coal companies try very hard to divide this movement and to divide communities. A lot more local folks would stand up against MTR if they had the time, the health, or confidence they could actually win. Big coal has been instilling a culture of fear and oppression for over a century here.

  12. Vernon Haltom says:

    By the way, the coal industry only employs 5% of the WV workforce, total, so maybe 2% of the WV workforce is involved in mountain demolition (real miners go underground). MTR is a net economic drain on a community.

  13. Mark Hallett says:

    Jobs are never a reason to continue an industry that destroys the environment. The mountains of West Virginia do not belong only to the people of West Virginia. They are a part of the natural heritage of the nation. Filled streams affect others downstream. Coal must be eliminated from our energy mix for the sake of all future generations. This is what science tells us. There is no other method to determine what to do!

  14. AnneG says:

    Coal companies don’t care about the people or the environmental damage they cause,it’s all about the buck.

  15. Yvonne Hahni says:

    It takes huge courage to overcome the fear of loss of job and income to feed a family but when the coal miners in West Virginia take a step back and look without bias and through the eyes of their children at the path of destruction that MTR inflicts on the mountains that are their heritage, they may find the strength within their hearts and minds to say “No More” and join the many voices in their own communities who take a stand that the erasure of century old forests is no longer acceptable in our 21st Century. Millions of chestnut trees are no match to the ancient forests of the Appalachians. The united voices of coal miners will roll like thunder all the way to Washington and fearless we will all stand together and change will come. This is what is possible in America!

  16. WV underground miner says:

    Im against mountaintop removal. If all these mountaintop removal sites were mined using underground mining, it would mean a lot more jobs for West Virginians. Im ashamed of some of the comments being made by coal’s supporters. You all should hold your head up and show pride in West Virginia, not just ugly name-calling. These are God’s mountains and to destrot them is a sin against God.

  17. it is completely wrong & , what if worse offshoots occur, e.g. – any single person could steal an entire mountain , abduct any mountain , steal the energy , destroy the meaning of the Himalayas & all mountains . this is already the tone worldwide , for promoting wealthy tourism – the nature & the locals are already terrorised in spirit, raped, murdered every day for perverse evil tourism ; especially for intl sport as well ; i live in cape town & the situation is already a disaster.
    & the pain the mountains experience through the removal for mining & pollution – it is a crime . how can this be allowed ?

  18. Judy Belle says:

    MY family has been here IN West Virginia for 8 generations- My father and grandfather was underground coal miners. Mountaintop removal is a crime–strip mining is a crime. It is blasting our homes and communities and poisoning our air and water. Most locals hate strip mining but are afraid to speak out because Massey workers and coal workers intimidate and harass people who dare speak out. You coal people are not fooling any one-they have seen it with their own eyes. Strip jobs are short term destructive jobs that blast and poison- that is the real criminal act.

  19. Donna Gibson says:

    THANK GOD FOR THOSE PEOPLE STRONG ENOUGH MENTALLY, MORALLY AND PHYSICALLY TO ACT FOR WHAT IS RIGHT! Mountain top removal makes me virtually gag whenever I even think about it!

    I grew up next door in Ohio; I visited West Virginia quite often and spiritually rejoiced in those magnificent mountains and valleys. I cannot even comprehend a reason compelling enough to destroy a way of life, a mountain top, its trees, wildlife, watercourses and even weather and wind patterns. If there is sin, this is it.

  20. Martha Bird-Middleton says:

    It is time that Massey be held accountable for its unsafe labor practices and for destroying the environment.

    Thank you all who are calling this corporation to account.

  21. Dianne says:

    Many people in West Virginia have been working together in every way legally possible to fight MTR – some of us for fifteen years or more.
    I am so grateful for the courage of the Dragline 14 – I wish I had the courage they do!

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