Environmental activists arrested after mountain top removal protest
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Environmental activists in West Virginia continue their protest of Massey Energy and the company's use of mountain top removal mining. At 5 AM Eastern time, four activists locked themselves together between a guard rail and a tree to prevent people from entering the company's regional offices in Madison, West Virginia. Eighty-one year old Roland Micklem came from Savannah, New York to join the campaign.
"We are at the driveway of Massey regional headquarters and making our stand here. We´re here to stop the egregious mining practice of mountain-top removal. It is by far the worst environmental crime of the century. An area the landmass of Delaware throughout the Appalachians has been devastated by mountaintop removal and as far as I´m concerned it is destroying God´s creation, which I think is a sin."
Police arrested Micklem and three other activists. An independent journalist at the scene was also arrested. Climate Ground Zero organized today's protest as well as a recent week-long tree-sit. Spokesperson Andrew Munn says this is the group´s 14th non-violent action to protest mountain top removal mining.
"With every action we've gained more allies on local level and more allies on the national level. At the end of the tree-sit we had two security guards who were hired by a security company contracted by Massey energy came and voiced both their support of the tree-sit and their opposition to mountain-top removal and Massey energy. This is a campaign of civil disobedience so its more confrontational than a lot of the tactics used by other environmental groups, but it´s very clear that public opinion is on our side. So we believe that this is an issue that needs to be made more of and that´s what we´re doing.”
The activists arrested Wednesday were charged with trespass, conspiracy destruction of property, disobeying lawful order and resisting arrest. The journalist, Gianni Lapis, was charged with trespass, failure to obey a lawful command and conspiracy according to Climate Ground Zero. The organization says these are trumped up charges, as the activists all pledged not to engage in property destruction.
During mountain top removing mining, mining companies use explosives to blow off the tops of mountains to get to coal reserves. Environmentalists oppose the damage to mountains, saying it transforms diverse ecosystems into "barren moonscapes." The practice also has other impacts, including the dumping of millions of tons of debris from the blown off mountain-tops to valleys and streams below. According to the regional group, Mountain Justice, coal companies have buried more than 1200 miles of Appalachian headwaters streams through mountain top removal mining.