August 29, 2009

Support team released, sitters sittin' strong

The tree sitters endured their first night and day of rain today as they continue to prevent blasting in that area of the mine site for a fourth day. Following the Thursday evening arrest and jailing of tree sit ground support Kim Ellis and Zoe Beavers, Massey security adopted positions at the edge of the mined area and at the base of the trees.  The tree sitters said in a message “We’ve stayed dry through the rain but security has been kicked up a notch & so has the harassment! Their plan is to wait us out.”

As of Friday evening, it is reported that between 10 and 12 Massey security guards have taken up posts near the tree sit.  

Kim Ellis and Zoe Beavers were bailed out of Southern Regional Jail late Friday morning. They both face charges of trespassing, with a maximum fine of $500 and/or six months in jail. No court dates have been set. Contrary to prior information, Ellis and Beavers were not asked to leave their positions when police arrested them this second time.

In a radio interview on MetroNews, Mike Roselle of Climate Ground Zero said the tree sitters have supplies for ten days. Despite harassment and rain, the tree sitters maintain that they will not descend from the trees willingly unless Massey ceases operations above Pettry Bottom, pays the full cost of health care and home repair to Pettry Bottom residents, and the Federal Office of Surface Mining begins the full reclamation of the Edwight mountaintop removal site. Roselle’s interview can be listened to here.

Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy, told his side of the story in an interview with Metro News. The interview, in which he accuses the tree sitters of childish behavior and claims that mountaintop removal is necessary to for Americans to maintain a high standard of living, can be listened to here. Interestingly, areas with similarly rugged terrain but no coal mining have a much higher standard of living than areas with coal mining. When comparing county coal production in West Virginia it’s evident that the more coal produced, the lower the median income. Life spans are shorter here and cancer is more common than elsewhere in the U.S.

In other news, it seems the tree sit’s impact may be spreading to the financial sector. Two articles, today, reported on an increase of put trading on Massey Energy stock, indicating a growing pessimism among commodity investors. This came as Massey shares dropped 4% on Thursday and news of the tree sit spread to major news publications in the US and Canada.