CGZ Locks Down in West Virginia Amidst Controversy

Protesters Arrested, Action Video Posted
from Climate Ground

Joe Hamsher and Sarah Seeds, activists with Climate Ground Zero, were arrested yesterday morning while blocking the entrance to the headquarters of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). They have been charged with trespassing, obstruction of justice and disrupting government processes. Their bail was set at $5000 dollars each. Hamsher has posted bail. Seeds remains locked up at South Central Regional Jail in Kanawha County.

The protesters chained themselves to a metal barrel in front of the DEP and remained locked to the barrel for an hour and a half. They sought to condemn the DEP for sanctioning mountaintop removal mining and for failing to enforce the Clean Water Act. “There is no way to operate a mountaintop removal mine without violating the Clean Water Act. Even Don Blankenship admitted that in Charleston when he debated Robert Kennedy” said West Virginia native Joe Hamsher. “The DEP ought to step up and do their job by enforcing the Clean Water Act. But instead, Randy Huffman, and his boss Joe Manchin, try to find loopholes around it.” Hamsher, Seed and CGZ will continue to hold the DEP accountable for its crimes against West Virginia.

In addition to putting pressure on the DEP, Climate Ground Zero and its allies will be gathering in Washington D.C. on September 25 through September 27 for Appalachia Rising, a mass mobilization to call for an end to mountaintop removal mining and bring the issue to the national stage.

Please contribute to the legal defense fund by clicking here.


In related news, the Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice and the Sierra Club released a report entitled In Harm’s Way about the perilous threat that coal ash poses to the US’s water supply. Terrible management of toxic coal waste has led to the discarding of 150 million tons of coal ash (ingredients: dangerous toxins like arsenic, selenium, lead, cadmium, mercury, and even sometimes chromium, cobalt, barium, sulfides and others) into ponds and dumps nationwide, causing hazardous toxicity in 39 sites over 21 states and high toxicity levels in 100% of sites surveyed. Studies based on the groundwater near La Grange, Texas, and Joilet, Illinois, provide excellent examples of the reports findings.

Prompted by the TVA disaster of 2008, the EPA has finally begun hearings to set a national standard for ponds or landfills used to dispose of waste from burning coal (i.e., is coal ash toxic waste, or isn’t it — correct answer being YES!!!!!). The first hearing will take place on Monday in Arlington, WV.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has come out against a law suit that calls coal burning plants a “public nuisance.” Seeking to indemnify coal plants on the basis of their contributions to Climate Change, this law suit made it to the Supreme Court, but Obama has taken the part of the Power companies, insisting that the placement of power plants is a political, not a judicial, matter, and should therefor be decided in legislative bodies rather than the courts. Even Obama’s allies are flabbergasted at his reactionary stance on climate change.

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