Video: Mountain Action team shuts down and climbs 20 story dragline

Written by Scott Parkin

Topics: Frontline Communities

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Here’s a video of yesterday’s action in Twilight, WV that shut down a 20 story dragline.

Watch the video here

14 were arrested after entering onto a mine site. Seven stopped the machine from operating, 2 documented the event and 4 scaled the machine to hang a banner that said “Stop Mountaintop Removal”

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

  1. nunya says:

    LOL A crime???? This is how we support our families. Considering that only 1 of you are even from WV makes this more pathetic than it already is.Get over it. You were harassing these men and all they were doing was trying make a living. You guys will be the first ones to complain when you’re sitting in the dark! There has been groups like you marching around for years and look we’re still here. WV LOVES OUR COAL MINERS! Stay in your own state and mind your business. I haven’t heard anything about you guys being prosecuted or anything but I hope each and everyone of you are. You guys are literally trying to put THOUSANDS of men and women out of work. What a shame. That would mean THOUSANDS of families would suffer.Stay in your own state and mind your own business. Ok? Thanks!

  2. james m huffman says:

    3% you guys are crazy evry job in this state is suported by coal. you are not going to stop it its bigger them me and you god put coal on this earth for us to use

  3. shawnda says:

    as a coal miners wife i find all this crazy we depend on the mine for making a living paying our bills and supporting our familys. You all have no clue what it means to be a West Virginian and the pride we have in our state and all that the mountians provide and mining provides more than 7% of jobs thats crap i know where i live eberyone a miner and we’ve already been cut backso much familys are barely making it as i sit here and type this… So put your efforts tosomethinf useful like saving the whales or something just leave OUR mines and OUR people alone…

  4. Kim says:

    i think that the people in this taping should go back where the came from and leave us alone i think that after a mountain has been mined that the way they fix it back is just pretty i live around a mountain top removal mines and i have pics on my myspace of how pretty that they fix it back…plus i dont think that the people protesting the mountain top removal are from here and no just how much coals mean2WV or the family’s that live in wv…i have a ? for all of them I AM JUST WONDERING IF THEY HAVE POWER????? and if they do that comes from the mountain top removal mines so if u protest and believe in what u are doing then turn off ur lights and live in the dark i think that the protester needs to get a life and leave WEST VIRGINIANS alone…..i think that u guys are crazy and just like to be on tv GET A LIFE u know what makes me so mad that the woman that lives here in WV and i bet she is behind all this but she has never had a job and she got 150k and the people that is losing there homes and cant feed there kids because of what she and all the other protesters are doing u guys just think of the kids that u are hurting because of this i hope that u can live with urselfs but just remember very time u turn on your lights that is COAL nothing else but COAL…GET A LIFE AND STAY OUT OF OUR MOUNTAINS I LOVE TO SEE MOUNTAINS BEING MINED THAT MEANS KIDS WILL NOT HAVE TO LEAVE WV TO GET A GOOD PAYING JOB THEY CAN DO WHAT THERE DADDY DOES AND THAT IS MINING

  5. crystal bender says:

    I am a coal miner’s daughter this job you invaded your personal grap on is where my boyfriend ,brother and brother-in law work….if you had a hard job and a family to feed and bills to pay you wouldn’t feel like throwing a paper banner on a drag line the banner was made from a tree something you say your protecting!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Heather says:

    I would like to say thank you to all the coal miners….I actually have no coal miners in my family. But I live in Boone county WV and most of the me in this area are coal miners. Take a moment and think, what is actually so wrong with what these hard working men do??? What these miners do is hard work, and all you can do is complain. Sure they could leave the mountain tops alone, and you all can look at the beautiful mountain from your unlit, unheated house. Because much of our energy is from the coal, duh. Thanks again miners, keep up the good work

  7. Devin says:

    Only 0.8% of all WV jobs rely on surface mining. Less than 5% of our nation’s electricity comes from mountaintop removal coal mining (so only one out of every 20 minutes I’m on my computer is thanks to MTR. I think I’ll turn my computer off that extra three minutes out of every hour from now on). MTR accounts for less than 3% of West Virginia’s tax revenues, and less than 4% of total state economic activity. Further, only one out of every 16 tons mined by MTR or any other coal mining method is actually consumed as electricity by West Virginian’s.

    Now, I believe, given these facts, that the real case is that West Virginia is NOT dependent on mountaintop removal coal mining. West Virginia’s jobs are NOT reliant upon MTR jobs. Not even close. The coal severance tax accounts for less than 2.5% of the total state budget outlays, and only 30% of that comes from MTR. Meaning that about 0.75% of all the monies spent by West Virginia’s government are a result of MTR mining.

    I feel for the families that rely on the coal jobs, but I blame their government for not helping create new industries and economic alternatives to coal, so that these miners and machine operators wouldn’t have to destroy the homes of others in order to earn a decent wage.

    Its time to transition to a new, clean economy in the coalfields. Mountaintop Removal enacts a heavy cost on the environment and the communities, and the women responding to this blog here are married to an occupation that amounts to less than 1% of West Virginia’s jobs. Even in the coal producing counties, MTR workers amount to less than 5% of all employment in those counties, except for Boone County (about 12%). So the story is actually pretty clear here.

    Mountaintop Removal coal mining must be banned. Oh, and, half of all the protestors were from the West Virginia and Kentucky coalfields, so it wasn’t just a bunch of out-of-state and out-of-mountain hippies protesting MTR. It was folks living with the impacts of MTR, who have lived their whole lives in the coalfields, and then the out-of-towners who love and care for and will stand by those residents with our every last breath.

  8. Sarah says:

    First of all, I just want to say thank you to all of our hard working miners. Second, there is nothing wrong with mountain top removal, have you ever seen a reclaim? Third, how are you going to like sitting in the dark? Not only that; but, those wind mills that you environmentalist want, how do you think they are going to put those on the mountains? ughhh.. stay in your own state and complain about something else, there is no need for you to invade our mines and disrupt our hard working men and women.

  9. Brad says:

    It isn’t the workers fault. I pity the non-unionized massey workers who have to destroy the backyards of others in order to qualify for a credit card.

    Mountaintop removal IS a crime. If the only way you can make a living is to permanently destroy and poison the land of others, then hop on I77 and head to North Carolina. Or better yet, help us demand that windmills are put on Coal River Mountain and have a permanent, unionized job.

  10. Devin says:

    Oh, and in terms of the coal industry as a whole, the industry’s own data says that it provides $6.8 Billion in economic output every year. That amounts to 12% of the state’s total economic activity, provided that their numbers aren’t overshooting reality.

    They also claim 46,000 total workers in the industry (20,000 of which are actual miners). That 46,000 amounts to only 2.5% of all non-farm paid labor in the state, not even close to the 7% that Shawnda claimed above.

    And that woman who won the award, Maria Gunnoe, works alot harder than most people and she’s damn good at her JOB, and her yard and bridge were wiped out by a flood that was caused by the failure of a sediment pond constructed at the toe of a massive valley fill up the holler from her home. That flood came all the way up to her front porch and could have taken out her whole home. So, thanks MTR. Thanks coal industry.

  11. No one who dislikes Mountaintop Removal is against the miners or their families. But there are several key points that you beautiful people are missing right now.

    1) Massey Coal and the other coal companies do not care about you. If they did, they would provide higher wages, safer vehicles and methods, better insurance and a generally better life for their employees. WV lives below the poverty line. Why? Because Coal Companies pay you very very poorly. Simple.

    2) Massey Coal and coal companies do not care about you! If they did, they wouldn’t blow mountains up to get to the coal, which has lost 10,000 jobs for coal miners because the process takes LESS jobs to get it done. You are losing jobs every year because Massey Coal would prefer to have machines do all the work and leave you all without jobs. Each worker costs them money; they see you as a loss to their profits.

    3) The mountains of this earth are NOT the property of any person, company or state. They are the property of God. When Massey Coal blows them up, they are blowing them up for all of humanity and all future generations. It is an abomination and breaks a covenant with God to care for this planet. As Christians, you should pay close attention to this.

    4) Coal jobs are NOT the only jobs in this world. Maybe your father and grandfather were coal miners, but they likely suffered significant health problems as a result of their work and never got to “retire” because they weren’t paid enough. There is a better way! And that way is to employ the 14,000 WestVirginians in the coal industry in the renewable energy field, building solar panels, wind turbines and geothermal systems. Believe it or not, there are other ways to feed your family than mining coal.

    Why MTR is worthless: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/rperks/appalachias_resource_curse.html

    What you can do now to stop Mountaintop Removal: http://is.gd/1jFps

    Obama’s Failure on MTR: http://digg.com/d1vLOs

    Help Support Appalachian Restoration Act put forth by Sen. Cardin: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-s696/show

  12. MTR Sucks says:

    I get so sick of hearing you all say go home. Let me inform you,we are home and we are going to protect our homes.
    If mountain top removal mining would be stopped tomorrow no one on the power grid would even notice. Deep mines have kept the lights on long before mountain top removal mining and didn’t destroying everything in sight doing it.
    They have to mix mountain top removal coal with deep mine coal, so they can sell it. Besides on 5 to 7 % is used for electricity.

    Every job in this state is NOT dependent on coal. Please give stats on that please Mr. Huffman, if you cannot then your statement is void and useless.

  13. Ron Hayden says:

    Mountain top removal is a crime against nature. The temporary benefits of this type of coal mining produces, pale in damage it does to the environment. These are pristine forests. This is a rich ecosystem. The wholesale destruction of these mountains is castastrophic to the ecosystem. This type of coal mining enriches a few individuals, while the vast majority suffer the consequences of this devastation of the land. If this was such as great job creator and the coal industry was such as great benefactor, why is West Virginia among the poorest states in the Union? The answer is because the coal companies take the profits of their ill gotten gains and take them off to other states, leaving the inhabitants of the coal fields cold and forgotten. it is time to move forward. These days of destruction of the mountains has to stop. How about we start making solar panels in WV. How about we start making wind mills in WV. The green energy jobs are waiting to be developed. The people hanging on to the old fossil fuel methods of energy production will be left in the dust. West Virginia deserves a better future than it has had in the past. Mountain top removal must end now!

  14. Ryan says:

    You mining company families disgust me, coming on this blog and shamelessly supporting your disgusting exploitation. If the only way you can figure out how to make a living is by destroying the second most bio-diverse region on the planet (and exploiting mine workers – which you’ve done for over a century now) then you don’t DESERVE to make a living. This is outrageous.

    Just because you’ve gotten away with your crimes for generations doesn’t lessen your crime – in fact, it magnifies it. The day of your reckoning is coming. There is no place in this world for what you do.

    I’m sorry to be so disparaging, but in this case I can’t respond any other way. I am sickened.

  15. WV'N since 1700's says:

    The simple fact that MTR’s employees wives and families feel that they have to defend these jobs tells me that there is something wrong.
    Where else in the world would one have to fight to poison water and destroy land and people for a living?
    I am just reminding folks that I live in Boone County WV and I very much oppose MTR and I appreciate the support that we are getting from ran and all of the other national organizations invloved in stopping this madness and supplying jobs in doing so. The intimadations tactics that worked during the mine wars will no longer work. For every 1 job in MTR there are many families loosing everything! Their water, there air, their homes, their hunting and fishing areas and much more importantly they are losing their their futures. They really don’t feel that they have much left to loose. There is no future with MTR. Ever tested the water that runs off these sites? It is poison! The selenium affect not only the aqautic life but also the human lives. Coal has never been good to our people and its not going to start now. Wreck-claimation is a not adequate and it never will be what it once was. The water pollutions is permanent! You can’t replace the water that we once had. People accross this country is OUTRAGED that their power is coming from blowing up mountains. These mountains are not just ours to blow up! These mountains belong to AMERICA not to the coal companies and out of state land companies. We all have a say about what is going on in Appalachia. This is everyone’s mountains, we are just lucky enough to be the ones that get to live here.

    Only god can build mountains…
    Oh yeah God also made the sun and wind I see many more people turning to this for their energy. They don’t want to kill miners, communities and mountains to have power and they know that they don’t have to. It doesn’t have to be this way. I refuse to give up everything so that anyone can have a job. This is simply to much to ask.

  16. heather says:

    i cant stand this i mean really whats the difference between taking down a mountain to put these big strip malls in and it looking like crap and taking down a mountain and and actually putting the habitat back??? come on people if just let our miners do their job so they can feed their families and if you dont like it then you can just set in the dark and suffer for about 6 months see who hates coalmines then!

  17. Chris says:

    I hate it to hear working people defend their bossman who has been taking them on a ride for so long, was key to breaking one of this country’s strongest unions and is fixing to stab everyone of you in the back whenever his money isn’t flowing enough from the hills of home.

    Massey is already working with an outfit in India in a “strategic alliance with an agreement with Essar Mineral Resources Ltd., a member of Essar Group of India.” That’s from Massey’s website people! So’s their address:
    Massey Energy Company
    P.O. Box 26765
    Richmond, Virginia 23261
    804-788-1800

    Is that a local area code?!!!

    You really want me to beleive Massey and Blankenship give a rat’s ass about you all and your kids?! How many do you know been hurt up on the sites? How many of them got hurt so bad they couldn’t work? And how many of them got screwed out of worker’s comp? Huh? Now how many been killed on the strip mines?…

    It’s damn serious business this blowing up mountains. Hard work and hard feelings all around. But who is in charge? Who is running this show? It ain’t any one of us is it?

    For the Mountains
    For the People
    Keep em together forever

  18. WV'N since 1700's says:

    o yeah so everyone is clear this post was sent from a clean source of wind energy. In Boone County WV! Imaagine that!

  19. mitchumm says:

    I have seeen a reclain.

    valleys-filled

    Streams-gone

    and a gravel pile where there once was a mountain.

    reclaim=fail

  20. Rainmaker says:

    I am constantly amazed by the short-sightedness of human beings. Devlin said best, I think:

    Only 0.8% of all WV jobs rely on surface mining. Less than 5% of our nation’s electricity comes from mountaintop removal coal mining (so only one out of every 20 minutes I’m on my computer is thanks to MTR. I think I’ll turn my computer off that extra three minutes out of every hour from now on). MTR accounts for less than 3% of West Virginia’s tax revenues, and less than 4% of total state economic activity. Further, only one out of every 16 tons mined by MTR or any other coal mining method is actually consumed as electricity by West Virginian’s.

    Important facts. If they are correct – and I have checked them myself – then what we see is a minority group trying to maintain their own status quo at a cost to the rest of the population. And I don’t mean just the mountain comunities or the rest of the US. I mean everyone on this amazing planet taht we seem so Hell-bent of destroying for short-term rewards.

    The coal employees run heavy machinery – surely a tranferrable skill – and blow the Hell out of these mountains. The coal is processed at great cost to the local communities (read Marsh Fork Elementary and the toxic waste that the children and community are exposed to, as one example.) The coal is then transported and burned at power plants across the country to provide electricity so we can leave our lights on and burn it like there is no tomorrow.

    There will be no tomorrow eventually if we continue on this path. It is not sustainable and it will not last. You “miners”, if you can call what you do mining, will be out of a job eventually and no doubt the alternative energy technologies that are being proposed to replace coal will come into play eventually. The question is, why wait when the destructive nature of this practice, MTR, is so completely dangerous. From toxic waste to air pollution to global warming, the jury is in. Coal is over and it’s time – has been time for many years now – to make the switch.

    So let’s support green technologies and the many thousands of jobs that go with it to restore the environment of West Virginia and give us all the opportunity to live healthier lives.

    Why trade short term gain for long-term suffering? From the communities in W Va to the slowly submerging island nations?

    No good reason – just trepidation, pride and fear – all of which are surmountable and can be dealt with by a commitment from the government to support solutions and stop MTR. The communities must be supported with a transitionary plan that will allow the workers to become green workers.

    What’s the problem? If we work together, if we decide to create this healthier future for all, then we will achieve that. Fighting like this is a waste of time and energy and only serves to continue lining Don Blankenship’s pockets.

    Enough already.

  21. Devin says:

    Renewables and Energy Efficiency = Progress
    Coal, Oil and other Fossil Fuels = Regress (decline)

    Adam Smith, the “Father of Economics,” said: “The progressive state is in reality the cheerful and the hearty state to all the different orders of the society; the stationary is dull; the declining melancholy.”

    Come to the coalfields, and see which of these “states,” after over 150 years of timber, natural gas and coal extraction, describes the region the best. I’m gonna go with melancholy.

  22. Great article about MTR from WestVirginia’s own:

    http://www.wvablue.com/diary/4681/responsibly-ending-mountain-top-removal

    Points out that even in WV, public opinion is about 66% against MTR. The only people truly for MTR are the greed-sick executives who take home the profit.

  23. Amanda says:

    I support the people of WV! Those fighting against old KING Coal! I support all those who have lost a loved one, or gotten cancer, or lost a child due to the pollution that COAL has brought to these communities. I support those elders who have to sweep the coal dust from their front porches everyday, those whose land has washed away, who have lost their homes to COAL! I support those who prefer wind or solar energy! And no, I won’t suffer or complain without electricity! We should be a little uncomfortable, it helps us remember that we are humans! NOT GOD! HOW CAN YOU HONOR GOD, IF YOU DESTROY HIS CREATION, YOU SO CALLED CHRISTIANS!

  24. WV resident says:

    Hey pro MTR folks

    This is not an issue of outsiders against WV miners. You can keep on saying that until you go blue in the face, folks. And asking if we have ever seen a reclaim is also silly. Yes, I have seen MANY, and I have looked through the permits and evacuation plans and been on the major slurry impoundments in this area, as well as talked with the mine inspectors, MSHA, DEP, and many local residents who have lost their water, had their foundation of their homes destroyed, are choked by dust after blasting, or who have children who are quite literally scared at night when it rains. I AM A WEST VIRGINIAN and I come from coal mining and my family does not support MTR in any way. Now, tell me, why can’t we work together to provide jobs in this area instead of attacking each other in the name of Massey? Instead of telling us to go home (and ignoring the people who live here and pretending that everyone here is pro MTR, which is an outright lie) why don’t you go door to door and visit your own neighbors who are suffering and scared? or do you have to believe that those people don’t exist and that this movement is all outsiders? Please address this question. If your water and land are fine, then thank God, but that does not mean that everyone else is fine. Go and see for yourself, and if you would like, tell me where to go see a reclaimed mine site with the “habitat restored” and then perhaps we can have a productive conversation. I spent over a year traveling around to these reclaimed sites. How much time have you spent sitting with West Virginian families who feel that your husband’s job is taking away a good life for THEIR children? Are you going to direct all of this hateful defensive “coal is WV” crap at them?

  25. Judy Bonds says:

    I live in WV and 68% of the people in WV are against strip mining and The Board of Education and Wall Mart are the biggest employers in WV. There is only 20 years of coal left in Appalachia so the knuckle draggers that Massey bought to post here is lying to you all. New science studies in WV and Kentucky prove that mining is costing our states -our health and our property 4 times more than we get from coal. We are giving the coal companies corporate welfare to pay people to blast and poison our homes and communities. The people in the communities are now gathering evidence to sue the coal companies and maybe the workers for the damages.

  26. Has anyone tried to establish the entire Appalachian Mountains as a UNESCO World Heritage Site? or a National Landmark? That would legally preclude any more MTR forever. There must be a legal way to stop this.

  27. It don't matter, you could care less!! says:

    Can I expect you to pay my bills when my husband looses his job thanks to YOU???? You all need to go back to the rock you crawled out from under in the first place..and take obama with you. I refuse to capitalize his name, he deserves no respect in my book…along with all of you! Fight something worth fighting, like abortion or starving children, leave our hard working men alone. They are providing for their families, and you all need to keep your noses out of it!!!

  28. Ryan says:

    “It don’t matter, you could care less!!”:

    I’ll put my nose wherever I want, this is a “free” country. I will especially put it where I find irresponsible plunderers like your husband. Why should all of us have to suffer because your husband wants to work in the coal industry? Why should other people’s children have to get sick, and in some cases die, so that you husband can help blow up a mountain?

    Are you telling me the ONLY thing you and your husband can do to “make a living” is mine coal? Ridiculous. This “providing for their families” line is the same bull I hear about whalers, sealers, lumberjacks… you name it. I despise this justification of exploitation. If you can’t provide for a family any other way then perhaps you shouldn’t have had a family, but you probably never considered that did you? I’m tired of people’s flagrant irresponsibility, and I have no more sympathy for you.

    My sympathy is reserved for people who’ve had their homes and land destroyed by the slurry dam failure in Tennessee. My sympathy is for kids who have to go to school in the shadow of a damn just like it. My sympathy is for the thousands of Americans who die every year because of the coal industry: the old, the young, and the unlucky. My sympathy is for the unique and brilliant beauty of the Appalachian mountains and the life it supports which is being irreversibly destroyed by people like your husband.

    Someday people will realize that allowing others to exploit and destroy the planet is the most offensive crime you can commit. But for now I have to put up with people like you, who believe it is somehow noble…

    As for Obama – you should love him. He supports big coal, especially coal mining in Appalachia.

  29. james m huffman says:

    look its starts with mtr . where dose it stop ? dont try to sit there and tell me that oh an underground mine is safe, clean, and the best way … have you ever seen a coal refuge from a deep mine .. Its a valley fill . Have you ever seen the slury ponds at a deep mine ? look you and I can go back and forth on hear about who is right and wrong . but the simple fact is coal wins you lose . mt top mines are hear and there going to be hear there is nothing you can do about it . go to north caralina why should I have to leave my birth place to go to freaking NC to make 12$ an hr at a sock facktory . i have worked all around this country drilling . and i never made better or stedder work then hear in the mines so na i beleave im hear to stay dont beleave me just push back me in a corner

  30. Gabriella Simonetti, a 13 year old from Asheville, NC says:

    To all of those saying what they did is wrong, is entirely untrue. Mountaintop removal hurts the land we live on, and it said in the video its nothing against the people that do it, they understand everyone needs money to survive. But just know I live in these appalachian mountains and I would hate to see them swept away in the next five years for some god damn un-renewable energy. If you really studied up on your facts that I a mere 13 year old knows already, and stopped your hatred and realy listened to the meaning of the video you would understand Mountaintop removal is extremely bad and is also causing global warming.

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