The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Activists Board Coal Barge and Blockade Kayford Strip Mine Haul Road
Mountain Justice and RAMPS activists blocked coal transport in two locations Thursday morning protesting mountaintop removal. Five boarded a barge on the Kanawha River near Chelyan, with a large banner that read “Coal leaves, cancer stays,” and locked their bodies to the barge. At the same time, dozens of concerned citizens obstructed access to the haul road on Kayford Mountain, stopping coal trucks from entering or leaving the Republic Energy mine.
“These actions against coal transport were taken because the viability and health of mountain communities are being destroyed by mountaintop removal—the coal and the profits are shipped away, leaving disease and destruction in their wake,” Rebecca Loeb, one of the people on the barge said.
According to Nathan Joseph, another activist on the barge, the struggle against mountaintop removal in Appalachia is linked to the struggles of other fossil fuel extraction communities across North America and the world.
“The coal industry’s continued disregard for the well-being of Appalachian communities is connected to the struggles of other North American extraction communities. Strip mining tar sands for low-quality oil, fracking for dirty gas and deep sea oil drilling are signs we are scraping the bottom of the barrel. The extraction, transport, processing and combustion of these fuels all disproportionately impact low-income communities, indigenous communities (such as), and communities of color,” Joseph said.
According to a study co-authored by Dr. Michael Hendrix in 2011, a researcher at West Virginia University, “Self-reported cancer rates were significantly higher in the mining versus the non-mining area after control for respondent age, sex, smoking, occupational history, and family cancer history (odds ratio = 2.03, 95% confidence interval = 1.32–3.13). Mountaintop mining is linked to increased community cancer risk.”1 The study’s researchers collected data from 773 adults in door-to-door interviews.
As people in West Virginia see the lack of opportunities, they often leave the area to pursue a future elsewhere. Larry Gibson, of Kayford said, “Our biggest export in this state besides coal is our young people.”
Marilyn Mullens of Coolridge, W.Va., said, “Clean water and air is a human right. My electricity is not worth my human rights being violated–I’ll live with the lights off. I want my children and grandchildren to enjoy the beauty of West Virginia. We’re tired of the corporations lording over us, and no one is hearing our voices, so it’s time to take it further than talking.” Mullens is an organizer of Women United to End Mountaintop Removal, a May 28 event, in which women will shave their heads in front of the W.Va. Capitol in protest of mountaintop removal.
“For the past 150 years the coal industry has been pillaging this place and taking everything, leaving nothing but death and destruction in their wake. I am personally very thankful to these young folks who ain’t from around here necessarily who decided to put their freedom and bodies on the line to stop this vicious cycle, even if it is just for one day,” said Junior Walk of Whitesville, W.Va. “I would love to see some of my native West Virginia brothers and sisters stand up and tell this industry they can’t do this anymore.”
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Charli Shield
At unsettling times like the coronavirus outbreak, it might feel like things are very much out of your control. Most routines have been thrown into disarray and the future, as far as the experts tell us, is far from certain.
By Elizabeth Henderson
Farmworkers, farmers and their organizations around the country have been singing the same tune for years on the urgent need for immigration reform. That harmony turns to discord as soon as you get down to details on how to get it done, what to include and what compromises you are willing to make. Case in point: the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038), which passed in the House of Representatives on Dec. 11, 2019, by a vote of 260-165. The Senate received the bill the next day and referred it to the Committee on the Judiciary, where it remains. Two hundred and fifty agriculture and labor groups signed on to the United Farm Workers' (UFW) call for support for H.R. 5038. UFW President Arturo Rodriguez rejoiced:
By Julia Conley
A council representing more than 800,000 doctors across the U.S. signed a letter Friday imploring President Donald Trump to reverse his call for businesses to reopen by April 12, warning that the president's flouting of the guidance of public health experts could jeopardize the health of millions of Americans and throw hospitals into even more chaos as they fight the coronavirus pandemic.
By Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
Over six gallons of water are required to produce one gallon of wine. "Irrigation, sprays, and frost protection all [used in winemaking] require a lot of water," explained winemaker and sommelier Keith Wallace, who's also a professor and the founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia, the largest independent wine school in the U.S. And water waste is just the start of the climate-ruining inefficiencies commonplace in the wine industry. Sustainably speaking, climate change could be problematic for your favorite glass of wine.