Archive for April, 2010

Climate Ground Zero activists in a tree sit in August 2009

Climate Ground Zero activists in a tree sit in August 2009

Hi everyone,

Hope you’re enjoying the warm weather! Philly Rising Tide is hosting an event next week with some incredible activists from West Virginia, and we’d love for you to come!

Climate Ground Zero is the only campaign in Appalachia employing direct action tactics on the ground to stop blasting. Through lock-downs, sit-ins and tree sits, they are fighting the coal companies on their turf. Come meet members of Climate Ground Zero and hear about their work first-hand! Info is below.

Looking forward to seeing you there! Please forward widely and invite your friends on facebook.

❤ Philly Rising Tide

Tuesday May 4th 7:00PM

Climate Ground Zero Road Show
@
Wooden Shoe Books
704 South Street
Phila PA 19147
215-413-0999
sabot@woodenshoebooks.com
www.woodenshoebooks.com

Climate Ground Zero volunteers will be giving a presentation about mountaintop removal coal mining and the non-violent direct action campaign to end it. Come hear first-hand accounts of the negative impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining and listen to the stories of some of the people who are resisting this detrimental practice in the coalfields of West Virginia.www.climategroundzero.org

Climate Ground Zero is not an environmental organization; it is an ongoing campaign of non-violent civil disobedience in southern West Virginia to end mountaintop removal. Climate Ground Zero believes that the irrevocable destruction of the mountains of Appalachia and its accompanying toll on the air, water, and lives of Appalachians necessitates continued and direct action.

In West Virginia, an overwhelming majority of residents are opposed to mountaintop removal mining. However, political interests are highly invested in the coal industry and the EPA and the West Virginia DEP refuse to take real action to protect the environment and the people of West Virginia.

In order to stop mountaintop removal, we need to awaken the country to the devastation that mountaintop removal inflicts on one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, Appalachia, and its people. Since Climate Ground Zero came to West Virginia in 2009, hundreds of activists have come to the coalfields and stood with the residents of West Virginia to demand an end to the destruction.

RSVP on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=123308381012948

pray for our miners

pray for our miners

On Monday, April 5, the largest mining disaster in the U.S. in forty years occurred in Massey Energy’s non-unionized Upper Big Branch Mine near Montcoal, West Virginia, killing twenty-nine miners. This mine has incurred 3,000 safety violations since 1995, and eighty-six of those since 2005 involved failure to follow a ventilation plan to control methane and coal dust, the probable cause of Monday’s explosion. Massey’s CEO, Don Blankenship, said in a radio interview he considers that “Violations are unfortunately a normal part of the mining process.” Massey generally avoids paying its fines, or contests them in court.

Massey is as well the leader in mountain top removal mining, having mined nearly 190 million tons of coal over the last decade with this extremely damaging method (opensourcecoal.org), and has incurred thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act by dumping the mine waste in rivers and streams in West Virginia and Kentucky.

When hazardous conditions are the accepted way of doing business, when the profits of a company are deemed more important than the lives of the people who work in these dangerous jobs, or the continued existence of the mountains themselves and the communities that live in them, it is time—past time– to develop other ways of meeting our energy needs. The erection of wind turbine engines in Appalachia could generate more electricity than coal in only a few years and provide green jobs for the miners who remain employed as well as those eliminated by the increasing mechanization of the mining process (mountain top removal was specifically designed to reduce labor costs). We must demand that the government do more to enable the transition to clean energy, and that Wall Street stop financing corporate criminals like Massey Energy.

In the past week and a half we’ve had two very exciting announcements from the EPA!

First, on March 26, the EPA announced that it was vetoing Arch Coal Co.’s permit for the Spruce No.1 mine in Logan County, West Virginia. The Spruce No.1 site is one of the largest surface mining operations ever authorized in Appalachia, and the largest in West Virginia. For over a decade, Arch Coal and the federal government have been in court on and off over the fate of the mine. In 2007, the company was given the go ahead and Arch Coal began strip mining.

The EPA reviews permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that they comply with the Clean Water Act. The EPA has used it’s authority to veto only 12 times since 1972, when the Clean Water Act was passed. It has never vetoed an already permitted mine like Spruce No. 1.

This is an unprecedented move by the EPA. In our correspondence with Jeff Lapp and Shawn Garvin, we have pressured them about the Spruce No.1 permit. It seems that our efforts were effective. This is a huge victory!

For more information about the Spruce No. 1 Permit veto, check out solveclimate.com’s article.

Second, on April 1, in a move so amazing it almost felt like an April Fools joke, the EPA issued new guidelines for reviewing MTR permits! Probably the most exciting of these is the end of valley fills. Valley fills are just what they sound like – all the waste from mining is dumped into a valley, where toxins can leak downstream into water. In their announcement, the EPA said that from now on they will allow “no or very few” valley fills. Kate Rooth from Rainforest Action Network has a good take-down of the guidelines. You can read the EPA’s news release and guideline summary, “Comprehensive Guidance to Protect Appalachian Communities From Harmful Environmental Impacts of Mountaintop Mining”, here. The full statement can be read here.

These are HUGE victories for the campaign! Thank you so much to all of you who have helped pressure the EPA to make this happen!

Don’t Be Fossil Fooled!

Posted: April 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

Ever heard of Fossil Fools Day? It falls on April 1st each year and began in 2004 when environmental groups began making a mockery of the year’s biggest “Fossil Fool”.

This year, Philadelphia environmentalists told morning commuters not to be “fossil fooled” by PNC Bank – a bank that calls itself “A Green Bank with Eco-Friendly Service”. PNC Bank has direct and indirect connections to mountaintop removal coal mining.

Activists protest PNC Bank's funding of mountaintop removal.

In 2003, there was the $55 million line of credit PNC provided to Massey Energy, the most aggressive mountaintop removal mining company in the coal industry. In 2006, PNC assisted Peabody Energy in establishing a $2.75 billion credit facility. Then, in 2008, PNC held 33% of BlackRock shares. BlackRock is an leading asset management firm with energy portfolios that focus on coal companies, including companies that practice mountaintop removal. And today, PNC’s CEO, James E. Rohr, is called an “insider” member of BlackRock’s Board of Directors.

Morning protesters with Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) and Rising Tide Philly were quick to shine a light on these connections. The group of approximately 30 sang classic folk songs with altered lyrics to reveal the connections and their good-natured prank.

As commuters stepped off the bus at 1600 Market St., they heard new renditions of “where have all the flowers [mountains] gone”, “Go tell it on a mountain”, “She’ll be coming around the mountain” and other classics. While protesters kept the songs and mood playful, some wearing jester hats and holding massive fake checks, they raised serious concerns.

Several protest participants took to a ‘soap box’ to tell passers-by that they were standing in solidarity with the people of Appalachia whose water and health have been compromised by mountaintop removal. Soap boxers also told the crowd that they are excited to see PNC Bank take a leadership role in Green Building initiatives at their banks. They called on the Bank to do more. Protesters call on PNC to stop doing business with “climate criminals” like mountaintop removal companies and to invest in climate solutions and energy independence. Their call was to Bank Like Appalachia Matters (BLAM).

Protesters line up outside PNC.

You can take a look at more photos from Fossil Fools Day on Flickr