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This is the weekly blog post from Bruce Nilles, director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign.

This week has seen some very tense and passionate hearings on mountaintop removal coal mining permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Local residents who support clean energy say they have been verbally and physically threatened at the West Virginia and Kentucky hearings so far.

Here's a video of the Charleston, WV, hearings, where pro-coal people harassed clean energy activists by pinning them against the wall. The clean energy activists were then removed before the hearing by police for "security reasons."

This harassment was also reported in several news articles, including one from the Associated Press and another from the Lexington Herald-Leader.

And despite all that proof, the Army Corps is saying the hearings were "conducted in an orderly fashion." We can and will dispute that statement 100%.

Big Coal claims that ending mountaintop removal coal mining will cost jobs and hurt local economies. Yet this week Sierra Club and the Appalachian Center for the Economy & the Environment released a report from economists showing the opposite: The United States can have affordable electricity without mountaintop removal.

According to the report:
  - Ending mountaintop removal would have a negligible effect on electricity prices in the eastern United States, where mountaintop removal coal is currently burned.
- We have an abundance of cost-effective alternatives to mountaintop removal coal.
- Other types of mining in Appalachia employ more workers.
- Mountaintop removal coal mining costs state budgets more than it generates.
- Mountaintop removal destroys clean energy sources.

Despite being outnumbered at these events so far, our clean energy activists will continue attending the other hearings this week – there are three more on Thursday night, in Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania.  

Appalachia residents who support clean energy jobs should not be verbally or physically intimidated into staying away or being quiet. Their message is crucial. Clean energy will benefit Appalachia's economy. Mountaintop removal coal mining is destroying communities and offers fewer benefits than clean energy.

Help us get that message across by taking action today. Submit your own comments on the Army Corps' review of all these mountaintop removal permits. Your voice is needed!

Originally posted to Bruce Nilles on Thu Oct 15, 2009 at 12:55 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I'll be at tonight's hearing in VA... (11+ / 0-)

      ... and rumor has it that the same tactics of bullying and intimidation are planned by the same companies / employees who disrupted at Pikeville. I and others here will submit our comments in writing, ergo: denying the 'mob' the opportunity to shout us down. I'll just thank the Corps, hand over the printed statment, and take my seat.

      If you have come to help me, I don't need your help. But if you have come because your liberation is tied to mine, come let us work together. Lilla Watson

      by va dare on Thu Oct 15, 2009 at 01:09:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Post pictures of the gorgeous singers (8+ / 0-)

      with feathers.  Those mountains are gems of creation, 250 million years in the making. A few Stupid, Greedy humans think they can blow them up!?!?? WTF do they think they are?? I side with the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and the other birds and wildlife. What it took G_d 250 million years to make no idiotic coal baron has any right to destroy!

    •  Rec'ced, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      tipped and the letter to the USACE filled in thus:

      "A billion and some years in the making, home to thousands of distinct species and the fresh water for thousands of hominids, these mountains are more than the sum of the coal beneath them. The facts are clear, the science strong. Stop the permits and what changes? Hundreds of thousands of birds, flowers, medicinal plants, board feet of valuable lumber, miles of pristine watersheds, miles of trails threading through primeval forest SURVIVE, and some fat, old, ill-educated rich mining company executives have to change their antiquated, environmentally-ruinous business practices. No jobs will be lost. The health of thousands of people will improve. The water they drink will not disappear and the stream-bottomed hollows that have cradled many a creature will remain intact. It seems pretty plain: the needs of so very many should never be supplanted by the greeds of a few."

      Good luck tonight to those attending.

      Anytime you think you are a person of power and authority, try ordering someone else's dog around.

      by crose on Thu Oct 15, 2009 at 05:42:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How about guaranteeing anyone who loses (5+ / 0-)

    work extracting coal a job rehabilitating these areas.

    Thank God men cannot as yet fly and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. -- Henry David Thoreau

    by the fan man on Thu Oct 15, 2009 at 01:07:08 PM PDT

    •  The work is (0+ / 0-)

      called reclamation, and mining companies do this every time a mine closes.

      "Do your research before you post something unintelligent."  Unanimous.

      •  They're missing something, obviously, like clean (0+ / 0-)

        water and diversified wilderness. A golf course on a former mountain just isn't cutting it. If you think mining companies are doing a bangup job of restoration, that's great.

        I want to see people given real jobs in place of ones they're going to lose, not just tossed aside as a casualty of environmental regulation. Since your line of work is going to go the way of candlemakers soon enough, it would be nice to see displaced workers get more than an unemployment check and promises of job training.

        "Think twice, post once." someone somewhere who used to be a carpenter

        Thank God men cannot as yet fly and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. -- Henry David Thoreau

        by the fan man on Sat Oct 17, 2009 at 10:07:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  PR video idea (4+ / 0-)

    Play John Denver's "Country Roads" in the background while showing images of the destruction.  No other commentary necessary, just text at the end appealing for support.

  •  wtf? "we can't live w/out coal?" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paige, Hannibal, dewley notid

    how short sighted are these people?  have they not thought ahead to the various sustainable sources of energy that would provide them jobs decades after the earth is tapped out of resources like oil & coal?

    apparently not.

  •  I wonder ... (4+ / 0-)

    ... how many of those "pro-coal people" were the local version of the
    tea-bag crowd, a rent-a-mob organized by, oh - PR outfits working for this guy:

    At the center of this, one of the most spectacular acts of geographic and cultural self-immolation ever undertaken by a free country, is Massey CEO Don Blankenship, the highest paid executive in the coal industry. He's a West Virginia native, from Mingo County, the son of a poor single mother. From unremarkable roots he's ascended the corporate ladder at Massey, made its powerful board his courtesans, ruthlessly suppressed mineworker unions (just 3% of Massey employees remain unionized), threatened and bullied critics, and single-handedly purchased at least one state-wide election -- the 2004 race of state Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw, who had the gall to rule against Massey. During the campaign, McGraw was accused of allowing child rapists to go free and defeated after 12 years of service by a virtually unknown challenger.

    The bigger polluters, the multinationals, pour money and effort into polishing their public images and disguising their agendas. Not so a local thug like Blankenship. In 2005, when WV governor Joe Manchin threatened to keep a closer eye on Massey operations, Blankenship sued him in retaliation, represented by Robert Luskin, Karl Rove's lawyer.

    Today, Blankenship wields political clout via his grotesquely titled 527 PAC, "...And for the Sake of the Kids," into which he's poured millions of dollars of his own money. (When he founded the PAC he promised to start a foundation for the actual kids, but years later that hasn't happened.) He's going after the only other liberal Supreme Court judge in WV, and has vowed to shift the balance of power in the state legislature to Republicans. His interest is in maintaining WV's low taxes, paltry social services, and lax regulatory enforcement. But the attack ads now airing in the state prominently feature abortion, gay marriage, and drunk drivers. Massey has learned something from recent Republican successes.

    Every December, Massey funds a lavish Christmas Extravaganza in a small WV town. Blankenship arrives in a limo, dons a Santa hat, and moves among residents -- his own people, whose ancestral land he is destroying, whose families he is impoverishing, whose children he is sickening -- and passes out gifts.

    The crowd applauds at the sight of a local boy made good.

    David Roberts
    19 Dec 2007

    Slap it. Shoot it. Kaboot it.

    by adios on Thu Oct 15, 2009 at 02:12:12 PM PDT

  •  clean energy = jobs (4+ / 0-)

    how are they going to do windmills atop the mountains if they blow up all the mountains? clean energy is the way to go

  •  Former West Virginian (0+ / 0-)

    And supporter of our mountains.

    Keep up the good work.  We know that removing mountaintops and dropping them into the valley is stupid and dangerous.  It kills wildlife.  It kills the fish.  It pollutes the streams and rivers.

    Have I explained that it is stupid?

    If I still lived in Huntington, I'd be there with you.

  •  U.S. has 1/4 of world coal reserves, (0+ / 0-)

    with a reserve life of 255 years with current technology. There is absolutely no need for mountaintop removal mining. We will have cheap coal in this country for as long as we continue to mine the stuff, and we can mine as much as we could possibly want in a huge number of locations, in much more environmentally sound ways. They do it for the same reason health insurance companies kill people, because they can get away with it and make money doing it.

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