Breaking: Anti-MTR Activists Risk Arrest at EPA HQ with Elaborate Protest

Written by Scott Parkin

Topics: Coal, Finance

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Activists Risk Arrest with Elaborate Protest at EPA HQ; Demand Immediate Action to Stop Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

Group Erects Purple Mountain Majesty At EPA; Say “If Administrator Lisa Jackson Won’t Visit the Appalachian Mountains, They Will Bring The Mountains to Her”

WASHINGTON— In an attempt to further pressure EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to enforce the Clean Water Act and halt mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR), activists early this morning erected two 20-foot-tall, purple tripod structures in front of the agency’s headquarters. A pair of activists perched at the top of the tripods have strung a 25-foot sign in front of the EPA’s door that reads, “EPA: pledge to end mountaintop removal in 2010.” Six people are locked to the tripods and say they won’t leave unless Administrator Jackson commits to a flyover visit of the Appalachian Mountains and MTR sites, which she has never done before.

This is the latest in a series of actions and activities aimed at pressuring the EPA to take more decisive action on mountaintop removal coal mining. Today’s tactic is modeled on the multi-day tree-sits that have been happening in West Virginia to protect mountains from coal companies’ imminent blasting. Called the worst of the worst strip mining, the practice blows the tops off of whole mountains to scoop out the small seams of coal that lie beneath.

“We’re losing our way of life and our culture,” said Chuck Nelson, who worked as a coal miner in West Virginia for three decades and came to DC to support today’s protest. “Mountaintop removal should be banned today. The practice means total devastation for communities, the hardwood forests, the ecosystems, and the headwaters. Why should our communities sacrifice everything we have?”

Despite the Obama administration’s big announcement last year that it was going to take “unprecedented steps” to reduce the environmental damage from mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia, the EPA has been slow moving. Two weeks ago, the EPA delayed action on a set of broad-ranging and specific measures to reduce the environmental impacts of mountaintop removal, after details of the plan were leaked to coal-state mining regulators. The EPA has for months been close to finalizing these permit guidelines, which many hope will mandate tougher protections to limit damage to water quality and be a step in the right direction toward abolishing the practice.

The delay in EPA’s announcement of more detailed permit guidelines came just as the agency also asked U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers for more time to decide if it will veto the largest mountaintop removal mining permit in West Virginia history, the nearly 2,300-acre Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County.

“The science has become clear that mountaintop removal is harming water resources in real and measurable ways,” said Kate Rooth of the Rainforest Action Network, which organized the protest. “The EPA definitely can and must do much more on mountaintop mining and that includes exercising its full regulatory authority to block every single mining permit application that seeks to remove America’s oldest mountaintops and dump the waste into waterways.”

Based on EPA Administrator Jackson’s statements on March 8th at the National Press Club, it appears that the EPA is seeking ways to “minimize” the ecological damage of mountaintop mining rather than halt the most extreme strip mining practice. A paper released in January by a dozen leading scientists in the journal Science, however, concluded that mountaintop coal mining is so destructive that the government should stop giving out new permits all together. “The science is so overwhelming that the only conclusion that one can reach is that mountaintop mining needs to be stopped,” said Margaret Palmer, a professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences and the study’s lead author.

“Ultimately, what is clear is that mountaintop removal cannot be regulated. It must be abolished. Otherwise, we will continue to jeopardize our historic mountains, precious drinking water and especially the lives of the people who call Appalachia home. All of this for a tiny percent of dirty coal, the tradeoff doesn’t add up,” said Kate Finneran, one of the two main climbers in today’s protest.

Called the worst of the worst coal mining, mountaintop removal coal mining results in the clear-cutting of thousands of acres of some of the world’s most biologically diverse forests, the burying of crucial headwaters streams and the contamination of groundwater with toxic levels of heavy lead and mercury. According to the EPA, this destructive practice has damaged or destroyed nearly 2,000 miles of streams and threatens to destroy 1.4 million acres of forest by 2020.


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

  1. Final Exam Worm says:

    Great action guys! Those tripods and banners are ‘beautes! I think this campaign is well on it’s way to going national if it hasn’t already. Keep the momentum strong!

    PS: Go Finneran!

  2. Sparki says:

    Great work MTR DC team! You are all my heroes/sheroes. Hopefully, this will prompt EPA Admin Lisa Jackson to go to Appalachia and see mountaintop removal herself. Love, Scott

  3. Megan says:

    nice work team! Lisa Jackson needs to go to Appalachia to see that the real mountains aren’t so purple and don’t have peaks anymore! keep up the good work. end mountaintop removal.

  4. Tim O'Brien says:

    Great job folks! Keep up all the good work and this campaign will be won.

  5. Alex says:

    Sparkles to the action! Lisa Jackson needs to visit the coalfields to see the truth!

  6. Andy DiFiori says:

    Job well done!!! Great way to bring much needed attention to this struggle!! No matter what happens we are with you!!! Stand strong and stand proud!!! The earth loves you more today!

  7. Margot says:

    This is an important action. I’m surprised that none of the zillion of e-mail lists I’m on have sent out a general call to PHONE LISA JACKSON AND ASK HER TO AGREE TO THE PROTESTERS DEMAND THAT SHE FLY OVER THE SITES! Um, wouldn’t this work better if tens of thousands of us gave her a call today?m Anyway, I’m on it.

  8. Margot says:

    Want to call Lisa Jackson? 202-564-4700. She needs to hear from the people.

  9. Connor says:

    Way to go, Rising Tide! The need for direct action and uncompromising demands is more obvious than ever, and Rising Tide is stepping up. I will stand in support of RT as long as they continue to do so. Thank you!

  10. Dr. Xylem Galadhon says:

    Excellent work folks — i was at the anti-MTR lobbying days week before last in DC, and it’s awesome to see caring young people take stronger steps to *get the job done* on MTR, even if most eyes are on HCR right now — because the mountains are still being blown up, everyday!!!

  11. Dr. Xylem Galadhon says:

    ps. i just called Lisa Jackson’s # above, goes to one Dennis, who was very polite and took down my comment — i think lots and lots of brief calls to this # can only help our cause!

  12. Elizabeth Ross says:

    Thanks for the work you’re doing. Mountaintop removal is a tragedy, and a threat to us all. Wish I could be there with you!

  13. rick abraham says:

    Great job getting Lisa to fly over. Be sure to tell her to check out Twisted Gun golf course, the wood processing plant, Logan County Airport and our new State Park hotel and conference center all of which are on reclaimed mine sites. I’m quite sure they are hard to see from the fifth floor on Pine Street in San Francisco.

  14. Kathy says:

    I’m just wondering that when all the mines are shut down if all the people who are not miners and work in other fields are willing to pay higher taxes because basically 1/2 the state of WV will be unemployed and on welfare..hmmmmmm..who will support these miner’s families and who will support businesses after the fact..people tend to forget that these miners that they are trying so hard to put out of business will also put other businesses out in the cold and dark…just a thought…

  15. Peggy says:

    When the mountains of eastern Tenn were strip mined for copper in the 60′s I thought I had seen hell on earth the land was so raped. Now West Virgina is being sacrificed for a pitance of coal. The erosion and pollution left behind is ignored so that big industry can rule. It’s time to wake up and say No more!!!

  16. Amber says:

    I like your banners. The tripods are sexy too.
    Keep it up.

  17. Nick says:

    Hope you tree huggers have really good jobs. You’re gonna need them to support all the peoples families you’re destroying by destroying our jobs. If I get laid off so help me god I’ll be SURE to cause as much ecological damage as I can on a daily basis and piss on the head of chipmunks. And I’ll do it signed up on government assistance which you will pay for.

  18. Marie says:

    Reply for Nick – at one time your mountain could have supported a tourist business. Maybe it still can, but it will mean a huge rehabilitation of the area and a restoration of potable water. All of us want you to live in a healthy environment that provides a variety of occupations in a serene atmosphere. We send you good will.

  19. Scott says:

    hi Nick- you are focusing your anger on the wrong people. it’s the coal company’s that have laid off thousands of coal workers by shifting from underground mining to mountaintop removal. there less invasive means of getting that coal, but greedy coal execs want to save money and lay off workers by simply blowing the tops off of the mountains. i’m not a fan of coal, but if you are going to extract it at least do without destroying the mountains.

    you should also check your anger and the public threats you make on the internet. you never know how making such comments can blow back on you in the future.

  20. leona says:

    I called today and asked Jackson to view and stop MTR.

  21. CHG says:

    You people are nuts…totally and completely nuts! You don’t have a freaking clue about mining or the processes invovled. What was once unusable land, becomes totally productive land once reclaimed. Sure the process is messy, but we don’t hear you complaining when construction takes place for a shopping mall. Stay in D.C. with your president and keep your noses out of our business in the Appalachians.

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Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Breaking: Anti-MTR Activists Risk Arrest at EPA HQ with Elaborate Protest « Chrisy58’s Weblog
  2. Direct Action Against MTR at EPA « TexasVox: The Voice of Public Citizen in Texas
  3. The Understory » Update: Mountaintop Removal Activists Lock Down At EPA
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  6. I Just Pledged to End Mountaintop Removal in 2010, Will You? « It’s Getting Hot In Here
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