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News :: Environment
Activists Lock Themselves Inside a Drill Rig on Coal River Mountain
21 Nov 2009
Open Letter to Friends & Family

This morning, I locked down inside a drill rig on Coal River Mountain, the last high elevation mountain in the Coal River Valley that hasn't been mountaintop removed. This rig is being used to build a road that will facilitate mining. My affinity group has taken action to stop mountaintop removal before it even begins- if completed, it will render the last high elevation range in the range in to a series of pancake-like plateaus.
Mountaintop removal is the most egregious example I know of humanity's reckless abuse of nature. It is much more than just a stark metaphor, however- it causes real, tangible effects on the lives of folks in the coalfields and the lives of those downstream. Residents of the Coal River Valley struggle daily for their health, air and clean water. Sludge impoundments threaten the lives of valley residents, keeping them up at night, worrying- it is incomprehensible to me that coal barons can sleep soundly (do they?!). Yep, part of why I'm locking down is a big “Fuck you!” to King Coal (and, in a broader sense, Big Energy).

I'm also thankful for the things I've learned in the Valley and for the people who have been fighting mountaintop removal. Our best organizers are local residents who have worked tirelessly to expose the illegality of MTR and valley fill permits, win over supporters and get the word out about this devastation- I am so completely humbled by the work they do. I'm also humbled by friends and fellow activists who have been arrested multiple times taking a stand against mountaintop removal, the least I can do is step up and take my turn.

I'm a New Yorker and college girl who has only been here a few months, but the Coal River Valley has altered my perceptions of what it means to live with the land. A friend and I were talking the other day about geography- about how people build their homes in the natural hollows carved in to the mountains and how the main road follows the curve of the valley. There are cultures of knowing here- knowing how to use and respect the land through hunting, foraging and gardening. In the midst of one of the most egregious ecological catastrophes exists incredible pockets of sustainability.

Civil disobedience is hard (sometimes scary) work, but it is just that- work. As you read and think about this action, challenge yourself to come down and pitch in. Our needs don't end with arrestables- we have a lot to do and all good work, including washing dishes and mixing compost, is important work.

Thanks for your support!

Love & Mountains,


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