Climate Ground Zero Meets with Governor Manchin
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 28, 2010
CHARLESTON, WV – Responding to national pressure over the treatment of tree sitters on Coal River Mountain, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin asked Climate Ground Zero for an emergency meeting. This morning Roland Micklem, 81, and other group members told the Governor that the civil-disobedience campaign won’t stop until mountaintop removal does. They reminded the governor that the campaign is strictly non-violent, and asked the governor to protect activists from threats of violence by Massey Energy and other coal companies.
“The governor attempted to steer the conversation away from the more massive crime of MTR,” said Micklem. “We are here to oppose mountaintop removal mining, which is a crime. Massey Energy has committed any number of illegalities. We will continue non-violent civil disobedience in order to stop it.”
Today is the eighth day that Eric Blevins, 28, and Amber Nitchman, 19, continue to peacefully occupy trees to prevent blasting near Massey Energy’s Bee Tree strip mine on Coal River Mountain. They are preventing Massey from blasting near a sludge dam that endangers downstream communities.
The sitters have faced constant harassment from Massey Security in the form of air horns, bright lights and violent threats. The meeting resulted in a temporary moratorium on the use of the air horns and flood lights, but the sitters remain worried about the possibility of other, more dangerous, methods of harassment.
Governor Manchin recently came out against violence between the opponents and proponents of mountaintop removal mining after a meeting with coalfield residents about the effects of that type of mining.
In response to news of the harassment, hundreds of people from all over the country called Massey Energy, and then Governor Manchin to express their displeasure with his continued support of mountaintop removal mining, and to pressure him to stop the auditory abuse of the tree sitters. “The massive call-ins to the Governor and Massey Energy this week came from all over the country; mountaintop removal is a national issue with national consequences – the coal companies cannot continue to treat central Appalachia like their own personal playground,” said David Aaron Smith, one of the sitters who had to come down Monday.
Today Manchin stated: “Even if we disagree, I believe we can walk away respecting each other but everyone—including activists and property owners—must do so within the letter of the law.” Activists acknowledge that they are taking part in civil disobedience in response to legal violations committed by mining companies. In the debate with Robert Kennedy Jr last week, Massey CEO Don Blankenship said “I doubt it’s possible [to do mountaintop removal] without having a single violation at a single time.”