FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Aug. 11, 2009
Contact: Mat Louis-Rosenberg or Charles Suggs 304-513-4715
CHARLESTON, W.VA.— At 9 a.m., four protesters entered the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) and locked themselves to the office entrance. They are demanding that the agency hand over control of key programs to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) and that WVDEP Secretary Randy Huffman resign. Around them, dozens of demonstrators reiterated those demands. Inside the WVDEP, the four protesters are displaying signs that read “Closed Due to Incompetence” and “Department of Encouraging Pollution.”
Twelve protests in West Virginia since February 2009 have demanded an end to mountaintop removal, and over 90 citizens have been arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience.
“We need people in the DEP that are not one sided and don’t work for the coal companies, who do their jobs right and not with eyes wide shut,” said Tom Beckner of Pettry Bottom, Raleigh County.
This protest follows on the heels of two formal petitions filed by Coal River Mountain Watch, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Sierra Club and the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment. The petitions ask OSMRE to take over enforcement of the Stream Buffer Zone rule and EPA to take over enforcement of water pollution limits.
After an hour, Laura Steepleton, Michael Bowers, Andrew Munn and Laura Merner were arrested by law enforcement.
For additional information on WVDEP incompetence, see http://climategroundzero.org/epa-takeover-dep.pdf.
EPA petition: http://wvgazette.com/static/coal%20tattoo/epapetition.pdf.
OSM petition: http://wvgazette.com/static/coal%20tattoo/bufferzonepetition.pdf.