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Radical Action for Mountain Peoples' Survival. A direct action campaign to end strip mining, based in southern West Virginia.
Updated: 1 day 8 hours ago
For the land and the people – by D Steele
The MCHM chemical spill that poisoned the Elk River and the municipal water of over 300,000 people is not an isolated event, an anomaly or an act of god. It is also not an incident that happens in the vacuum of Appalachia, this can and does happen in every and all communities that deal with resource extraction.
As the amount of fossil fuels diminish globally, extractive industries continue to cut more and more corners, and endanger the land, water, and health of an increasingly large amount of the world’s population.
Resistance to the increasingly frequent crises created by capitalism is a matter of survival for the people of Appalachia. All of us at the RAMPS campaign have seen this in action: we have seen the coal industry depopulate communities throughout West Virginia. Communities like Twilight, Welch, Blair, and countless others are either ghosts towns or shells of their former self.
One of the primary mechanisms for this depopulation has been to contaminate the streams, wells, and water tables of the people of Appalachia. Valley fills bury thousands of local streams, chemical spills poison water supplies and slurry injection leaches heavy metals into the wells of the people in Rawl and Prenter.
Sustained resistance to the coal industry and capitalism is only possible in Appalachia if people’s basic needs needs are met. The RAMPS Campaign’s work with the West Virginia Clean Water Hub comes from this idea.
RAMPS has focused a lot of our efforts in the community of Prenter. Prenter is a case study of what extractive industries can do to a community’s water supply. Community members fought for years with our allies at Sludge Safety Project to get municipal water after discovering that decades of underground slurry injections and massive strip mining operations by Massey Energy had poisoned their well water and streams. After just a few years of clean drinking water, they are once again without safe water. Poisoned groundwater, poisoned streams, and now poisoned municipal water.
The time has come to work with this community and continue the first step of resistance, self-preservation. Through mutual aid, cooperation, and community involvement, all of us at the RAMPS Campaign are dedicated to working on the frontlines of the water crisis and fighting for the future of Appalachia. Our work isn’t charity. Working on the water crisis is just another chapter in West Virginian’s struggle for survival.
Ramps is part of the WV Clean Water Hub and we are asking for your help.
Please get in touch : (304) 986-5949 or firstname.lastname@example.org or donate on-line!
Sidney Floyd Moye Jr. of Matoaka, WV passed away at his happy home, Mountain Valley Farm, surrounded by his family and dear friends just as he wished it on Wednesday night, January 29, 2014.
Sid was born in Oak Hill, WV on May 18, 1945, the son of the late Sidney Floyd Moye Sr. & Ruth Virginia Canterbury Moye Hedrick. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his Maternal Grandparents, Andrew & Mamie Canterbury; Paternal Grandparents, Charles & Agnes Moye; step-father, Clark Hedrick; sister, Virginia Faye Moye Hanshew Meadows; Step-brother, Jackie Hedrick; Grandson, Danial Allen Parsons.
Sidney was a member of the Springfield Primitive Baptist Church. He worked for over 40 years as a printer, from which he retired at age 60. He then attended college, graduating with an Associates Degree in Computer Technology with honors. After college, he worked as an IT Specialist with First Community Bank for 5 years before retiring permanently. He spent the last 5 years of his life tirelessly working to save the mountains and communities of Appalachia from mountaintop removal mining. Sid was a speaker for the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation and a member of Mountain Justice. His passion was homesteading and teaching others to live self-sufficiently and to be good stewards of this earth.
He leaves behind the love of his life, Dana Pearman Moye; daughters, Wendy (Steve) Johnston, Sarah (Dean) Howard, Beth (Tony) Lucas; sisters Margaret Dunn and Patricia (Clifford) Gwinn, and brothers Benton (Geneva) Moye and John Moye; step-brothers A.C. (Connie) Hedrick and Randall Hedrick; stepsister Brenda Hedrick Weikel; his Aunts, Nellie Grey Canterbury Dixon, Betty Moye & Elizabeth Moye; grandchildren, Rachel Anne, William Joseph and Matthew Sidney Parsons; Hannah Mae, Logan Elliot and Axyl Brett Howard; Kristina Allison Parsons, Lesley Dare and April Dawn Phillips; great–grandson Blaise Hudson Parsons; great-granddaughter due this Monday, Rilee Dare Parsons; special care givers Annie Jane Cotten, Kim Ellis, David Baghdadi and Mathew Louis-Rosenberg; and the nurses and staff of Amedysis Hospice. Sid also leaves behind a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.
His generous heart and powerful spirit drew countless others to him that he was proud to call his extended Appalachian family. He also leaves behind a legacy of fighting for the mountains and people of Appalachia and the preservation of his home, Mountain Valley Farm, in a land trust to protect the property as a sustainable farm and education center in perpetuity.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that all memorials be sent to either the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation at 179 Summers St, Suite 234, Charleston, WV, 25301 or Mountain Justice P.O. Box 303 Naoma, WV 25140. These are causes that were near and dear to Sid’s heart. A Memorial Service to celebrate his life will be held at 2pm on Saturday, February 1, 2014 at the Sun Valley Ruritan Building in Lerona, WV. A dinner will follow the services with visitation with the family. The Moye Family is being served by the Memorial Funeral Directory & Cremation Center on the Athens Road in Princeton.
Thank you to everyone!
On Tuesday, January 21st, at 6:00 p.m., citizens of WV are honoring the Waters and holding a candlelight vigil by the Kanawha River, in front of the capitol.
Other communities around the state and around the country will be gathering by their waters at the same time. We urge you to go to your river, near your home, and stand in apology to the waters and in solidarity with the people and other creatures who suffer when we disrespect and destroy them. Water is Life!
–The RAMPS Campaign
Look here to see vigils happening all over the world and find one close to you:
You can respond to the facebook event here.
The RAMPS campaign is working with Aurora Lights and Coal River Mountain Watch to bring clean water and sanitizer to people in areas whose water supply is contaminated by the 4-methylcyclohexane methanol spill. Right now, we’re still delivering hundreds of gallons of water a day, along with hand sanitizer and wipes (which become pretty important for maintaining hygiene when people can’t bathe or wash their hands). These supplies are being snatched up as soon as we put them out, and we need more funding to continue to distribute water.
We’re planning a big delivery day on Thursday, so please help us make that happen!
We recognize that those who are affected by the chemical spill are not the only ones whose drinking water is polluted by the coal industry right now. Coal has been creating a public health crisis here is southern West Virginia for decades, and it’s not going to end once this spill is flushed down the river. We have been, and will be, committed to fighting for clean water before, during, and after this disaster, acknowledging that the “WV water crisis” is ongoing.
Read this letter from Aurora Lights to learn the details of how you can get involved:
You can help from afar or within West Virginia.
Aurora Lights, Coal River Mountain Watch, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and Keepers of the Mountains need some more people to help with logistics and other things in the effort to get clean water to people still affected by the chemical spill who haven’t been getting enough water from the government.
Local fire departments outside of Charleston are still having trouble providing enough water. It’s gone as soon as they get it. One VFD told Aurora Lights:
they have received no direct aid
they have been supported by other local fire departments
i received permission from them to share this information
as long as we express gratitude to the other fire stations
they can only give out one case of 24 bottles per family
fire chief says he stays up at night worrying about the families with babies, or one family with a feeding tube, and how they are going to keep it clean, and if the babies have enough for their bottles
they are also requesting liquid baby formula
You can help in multiple ways:
- co-coordinate logistics of multiple moving parts to get water and other supplies to where they’re needed most, including identifying where those needs are
- work with folks on a press strategy
- strategy for applying pressure to the government apparatus that’s supposed to be getting water to people
- post updates to websites, facebook, etc.
- donate to the costs of this effort: http://bit.ly/wvChemRelief
- Check out the WV Clean Water Hub on Facebook to see if there’s ways you can help there
To get involved, please email email@example.com.
Thank you everyone!
Donate to send relief supplies to families affected by chemical spill Truck leaving early Sunday morning
Aurora Lights is sending a flat-bed truck of supplies to Boone County, W.Va., for folks who have not been receiving sufficient water, liquid baby formula, etc., after Thursday’s chemical spill that poisoned their tap water. Your donations will ensure the truck is packed with as much water and other supplies as it can handle. More information is available on Aurora Lights’ Facebook page. If you live near the affected area and have a spring, well or other clean water source that people can draw from, the West Virginia Clean Water Hub has been set up to coordinate such drinking water mutual aid.
Please donate tonight to ensure our flat-bed truck leaves Morgantown full of supplies: http://bit.ly/wvChemRelief.
Thank you everyone who has supported this effort after Freedom Industries’ tank leaked 4-Methylchlorohexane Methanol into the Elk River.
– The Aurora Lights Crew
The 14 of us who were arrested during the Hands Off Appalachia actions at UBS this November attended our first court date on the 8th. We were all offered a deal that may provide us a pathway for getting our charges dropped in exchange for paying restitution, but are waiting on the prosecutor and our lawyer to work out the details. Since our case was not resolved this week, we will have to return to CT on February 6th.
These long-distance court trips are costly; we could really use help defraying the costs of travel. Please donate here to pitch in.
Here is a Statement from Ricki Draper about her experience with the court:
Walking into court today with thirteen of my friends is equally as empowering as it is painful.
Over the last two years, I have visited UBS’s offices over 30 times pleading with them to stop the destruction of Appalachian communities. On November 25th, I stopped asking and started demanding an end to UBS’s financing of mountaintop removal. I entered the UBS National Headquarters and dropped a banner from their front entrance and refused to leave.
Today, court is an incredibly hard place to be. I arrive at 10am, and watch person after person stand in front of the judge. I witness the criminalization of poverty. People are sentenced to jail time, fines are levied, and families are separated.
Honestly, I am scared of judges and police and jails. I am scared of having a criminal record and how worried my mom is when I call her from jail.
Even though the legal system scares me, I promise you that I will never stop fighting. As UBS profits and poisons communities, as poor people are imprisoned and people of color are marginalized, as the pipeline is built and parents are deported, we will fight back. As long as injustice is legal and those in power are criminals, I will fight back.
While our criminal justice system is insidious and our enemies strong, I believe that we are going to win.
RAMPS has had another busy year supporting struggles against extraction across the country and keeping the pressure on the companies and politicians perpetuating mountaintop removal in Appalachia. With resistence to extraction spreading like wildfire and the movement in Appalachia digging in, the work shows no sign of slowing down in 2014 and RAMPS has no plans to slow down either. Won’t you consider making a donation today to ensure we can continue our critical work? Small groups taking direct action on the frontlines like ours don’t get money from big foundations or donors like Michael Bloomburg. We depend totally on passionate, committed people like you giving what they can. We know a lot of big groups are asking for your money right now, and we hope that you’ll considering giving to RAMPS where your donations can make a huge difference for us. Read our year in review below and we hope you’ll be as inspired as we are by the resistence across the country.
Looking Back on a Year of Nonstop Resistance…
This was a big summer for this movement, and RAMPS was a big part of it. With allies across the county, we launched “Fearless Summer”, an open-ended callout for folks fighting extreme energy across the country to take united and escalated action. Many answered the call, with dozens of groups from Sierra Club Chapters to Earth First! endorsing the callout and taking actions resulting in hundreds of arrests. From folks in Maine blockading train carrying frack oil to folks in Detriot turning back pet coke trucks to Montanans rallying against coal exports, the movement was in action across the country. By embracing a common framework and united front, we showed that we are one movement, bigger and stronger than each of our campaigns alone, getting our message of unified resistence into the San Francisco Chronicle and YES! Magazine. The summer was such a big success that weinspired our comrades out in Australia to launch their own Fearless Summer in the depths of our winter. This inspiring show of power was cooked up by organizers at the first Extreme Energy Extraction Summit, a meeting of a wide spectrum of groups across the anti-extraction movement to strategize together, strengthen each other’s approaches, and broadcast a common message about the social and environmental costs of resource extraction and climate change. We are excited to be a part of these ongoing meetings. We believe deeply that our struggle against MTR is one and the same as struggles against fracking, tar sands, uranium mining and others and that we can only win our individual struggle for justice by uniting and fighting together.
We don’t just talk about being in solidarity with other struggles, we do it. RAMPS has traveled to over a dozen states from Pennsylvania to Utah this year to assist campaigns against tar sands mining and pipelines, coal mining and hydrofracking. We’ve conducted trainings in nonviolence, blockades, campaign strategy, media, and jail support, provided action support and cooked thousands of meals. We’re especially excited to expand our support of indigenous struggles, travelling to Montana and South Dakota to support the indigenous-led “Moccasins on the Ground” nonviolence training and working more closely with the Dine’ Big Mountain/Black Mesa resisters in Arizona.
All this work around the country hasn’t stopped us from keeping the heat on moutaintop removal. In keeping with the advice of local allies, we focused many of our actions this past year on corporate and governmental targets. In January, in conjunction with our allies in MORE (Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment) and BMIS (Black Mesa Indigenous Support), we held a three-week-long urban action camp. Seven people locked down at the St. Louis headquarters of Arch Coal, one of the largest producers of strip-mined coal in Appalachia; others were arrested at the headquarters of Peabody Energy after the corporation refused to receive a letter from Diné elders,whose land it is strip mining. In May, we helped support Mountain Justice Summer Camp in southwestern Virginia, which culminated in a blockade of the headquarters of Alpha Natural Resources, another large producer of strip-mined coal in Appalachia. Another team of activists locked down at the Knoxville office of UBS, a major funder of strip-mining companies, on the same day. Since UBS didn’t agree to our demand to stop funding mountaintop removal, in November we dropped in on their national headquarters in Connecticut, locking down and hanging a giant banner from a nearby crane. All year in the WV State Capitol, Governor Tomblin refused to respond to any of the health or environmental concerns of coalfield residents; eventually this August those concerns were brought to his front door as someone locked down on his front steps to a huge vat containing coal slurry while others paddled out on the Shumate slurry impoundment.
… And Looking Forward to Another
To guide our work here in the coming year, we’re planning to conduct a series of “listening projects” in southern West Virginia this winter. We will go door-to-door to listen to the concerns and aspirations people in different communities here have for their lives and for the land they love. We’re very excited to renew our relationships with coalfield residents who have fallen out of touch and to perhaps meet new friends and allies. We are hoping that the feedback from these listening projects will help us focus our direct action campaign to end surface mining and to end the oppression of this people and this land.
Meanwhile across Appalachia, we are gearing up with our allies in Mountain Justice for a huge tenth anniversary year. Yep, you read that right. 2014 will be the 10th year that MJ has been bringing the fight the coal industry, and we are still going strong. With spring break camps in March, the 10th MJ Summer Camp, 2 fall weekend gatherings and the first ever Mountain Justice Reunion Celebration, we’ve already got a busy schedule. But that’s not all. Mountain Justice will be launching a major regional campaign against an outlaw coal operator next year. We can’t tell you much about it yet, but look for information about how you can come support justice for Appalachia with action in 2014 – there will be plenty of chances.
We are thrilled to announce through our work targeting Peabody Energy and visits to Diné homeplaces, we have built up our relationship with Black Mesa Indigenous Support and Black Mesa residents to the point where we’re planning an action camp with them! Beginning on May 16th, our camp will prepare attendees to confront the seizure and desolation of Diné lands by the largest coal company on the continent.
We’re a small group with an ambitious calendar, but we’re committed to doing this work because it is as urgent and critical as ever. Right now, we’re stretched thin. We don’t put a request out to everyone for donations very often, but we absolutely depend of them to keep running. Please donate today. It doesn’t matter how much you can give. Every dime goes to making it possible for us to keep fanning the flames of resistence to resource extraction in Appalachia and around the country.
For the Mountains and the People,
Four members of RAMPS were arrested with eight others on Monday for locking down in UBS’s national headquarters and for hanging a giant banner from a construction crane.
Teaming up with Hands Off Appalachia, RAMPS travelled north to Stamford, CT, for HOA’s fall action camp. Coal companies couldn’t tear down the mountains of WV without financers like UBS backing their capitol-intensive exploits–so we would like to make sure that companies like UBS can’t fund mountaintop removal without activists decorating their national headquarters.
All twelve arrestees have their first appearance in court on January 8th.
More Details on this action are in the press release below.
Stamford, CT – Early this morning, three activists hung a huge banner reading “UBS. Stop Funding Mountaintop Removal” off of a crane constructing the 66 Summers St building in downtown Stamford. Later in the day two activists entered the UBS headquarters in Stamford, locking themselves to a bannister and hanging a banner reading “UBS. Divest from Mountaintop Removal”, while others locked themselves to the outside doors of the building. The protests are a part of the Hands Off Appalachia, a sustained campaign to get UBS to end all financing of companies conducting mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia.
“Over the last two years, I have visited UBS’s offices over 30 times pleading with them to stop the destruction of Appalachian communities. Today, I’m not asking anymore. I’m demanding an end to UBS’s financing of mountaintop removal.” said Ricki Draper of Knoxville, TN who is locked inside the UBS headquarters.
Mountaintop removal is an extreme form of strip-mining in which coal companies blast up to a thousand feet off the top of a mountain to extract thin seams of coal. The resulting rubble is often placed in the valley below burying headwater streams. Over 1 million acres of forest in Central Appalachia have been destroyed and over 2,000 miles of streams have been buried by this practice. Recent research has linked mountaintop removal to increased rates of cancer, birth defects and cardiovascular disease in communities near these mining operations. UBS is a top funder of companies that conduct mountaintop removal such as Alpha Natural Resources, Patriot Coal, and Arch Coal. On Friday, organizers with Hands Off Appalachia met with UBS executives at their office in Stamford to discuss UBS’s existing policy on mountaintop removal.
“[At the meeting] I was ‘reassured’ [by UBS executives] that UBS’s policy on mountaintop removal was sufficient enough to protect my people. I wholeheartedly disagree. The reality is that their ‘policy’ is nothing more than an excuse to remove themselves from the truth that as UBS profits, my people suffer,” said Adam Hall of Glen Daniel, W.Va. who blocked the entrance to UBS’s headquarters today.
UBS’s existing policy claims to “recognize the potential environmental, social, and human rights impacts of this industry sector” and take into consideration “concerns of stakeholder groups”, but UBS officials have never travelled to Appalachia to witness the impacts or met with impacted community members until last Friday. The policy also claims to take into account regulatory compliance, but UBS financed Massey Energy and oversaw their merger with Alpha Natural Resources even after Massey was fined $20 million by the EPA for over 4,600 violations of the Clean Water Act.
Started in Knoxville, TN, the Hands Off Appalachia Campaign has spent two years engaging with UBS about their funding of the destruction of Appalachian through this extreme form of strip mining. HOA has organized dozens of actions and protests at local UBS offices all over Appalachia and the Southeast.
This summer, HOA escalated their campaign against UBS when three organizers blocked the entrance to the Knoxville UBS branch, the point of inception for the campaign. This action was the thirty third time in sixteen months that campaign organizers had visited that office. On the heels of that action followed a blockade at UBS’ North American Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. There, four organizers with Hands Off Appalachia and Capitalism vs. the Climate, a climate justice direct action group based in Connecticut, took a stand against UBS in solidarity with communities in Appalachia. This action launched the northeast leg of our campaign against UBS. Yesterday, activists with the campaign picketed UBS’s Parade Spectacular in Stamford, handing out leaflets and displaying a large banner reading “UBS Stop Funding Mountaintop Removal.”