OVEC in ACTION - A Few of the Things We've Been Up To Lately
It makes us dizzy to recall everything weve done since our
last newsletter came out in February. Below, in words and pictures, well try
to bring you up to date on just some of the actions taken by OVEC volunteers and
staffers. You can also visit the People
in Action Photo Gallery and the Action
Alert pages of the OVEC website for more detailed information (if a date
below is highlighted as a link, you may click it to go to the associated People
in Action Gallery).
14 - Stop Overweight Coal Trucks Rally on the Capitol steps
During the 2002 legislative session, overweight coal trucks were
a hot topic. Coal companies and coal haulers have been flagrantly running
overweight coal trucks for years, causing all-too-common fatal accidents and
pummeling our infrastructure.
On Valentines Day, hundreds of coalfield residents, union
members, environmentalists, law enforcement officers, and lawmakers gathered on
the steps of the Capitol to rally in support of upholding current laws.
Another rally followed on March
Despite the pressure, lawmakers failed to do anything to stop
illegally overloaded coal trucks from crushing people and pavement. The Governor
did call for a task force and nine public meetings, which coalfield residents
attended, despite rumblings that the outcome may be rigged. The legislature is
expected to deal with the issue during a special session in July.
Feb. 18 - OVECs new website goes live
Weve received lots of praise on our new website and have
heard from many of you who have made the site your home page so you can check
the environmental news we post daily. Many thanks to Don Alexander of Spectrum
Web Design, aka the OVEC Web Lackey, for designing the site, with some help from
22 - E-Day!
The West Virginia
Environmental Councils celebration of the Environment at the state capitol
saw Laura Forman posthumously receive the WV Environmental Councils highest
award, the Mother Jones Award. Janet Fout presented the award and Mike, Lauras
husband accepted it on her behalf, while urging everyone present to carry on the
cause in her memory.
Feb. 26 - 30th Anniversary of Buffalo
OVEC, SAFE (Student Activism for the Environment), MAPS
(Marshall Action for Peaceful Solutions) and the Oral History of Appalachia
department presented two Appalshop films "The Buffalo Creek Flood: An
Act of Man" and "Buffalo Creek Revisited."
Survivors of the disaster came to the emotional event. One woman
who was 11 when the coal dam broke, drowning 125 people, said "I put down
my toys that day. I havent played since. I was robbed of my childhood."
March 15 - Kick-Off Rally for Black Lung Widows March
Linda Chapman dons her shoes
OVEC was a co-sponsor of Black Lung widow Linda Chapmans long
walk from Charleston to Washington, DC. Widows of miners who die from Black Lung
face all sorts of obstacles in getting the benefits due them.
Chapman walked to DC to raise awareness of their plight and
March 20 - National Call-In Day on Valley Fills
We joined with many other state and national groups in asking
our members to call both the US Environmental Protection Agency and the
Whitehouses Council on Environmental Quality to tell them not to gut the
Clean Water Act by changing the definition of "fill." The Bush
administration planned to change the definition and thereby legalize illegal
valley fills. The call-in day was a huge success - even though the EPA shunted
our calls around.
Because the EPA did try to dodge some of our calls, we decided
to have a second call-in day on April 3. An EPA official told a national
environmental group that the agency received hundreds of calls both days. They
got our message, but it would seem coal industry campaign contributors are more
important to the Bush administration than the health and well-being of coalfield
March 22 -13th Annual Treehuggers Ball
All work and no play makes for dull tree huggers, so each year
we hold our Treehuggers Ball as a fun(d)raiser. Folks look forward to the great
music, which this year included Dave Peytons band 1937 Flood and, as always
the mostly-husbands-of-OVEC band, with their latest unprintable name. This years
T-shirts were hot sellers, featuring our new logo as designed by ceramic artist
Joe Lung (another almost-husband-of-OVEC) and a quote by Laura Forman,
"West Virginia is truly ALMOST HEAVEN. She has given so much to my life.
How could I not try to help save her?"
March 28 - College kids learn True Costs of Coal
Representing OVEC, hydrogeologist Rick Eades spoke to visiting
MIT and Northwestern college students about the hidden socioeconomic costs of
1 - Protesting Valley Fills at the Army Corps of Engineers
What a bittersweet
day. We returned to the scene of our December 10 protest the one we never
completed because Laura Forman collapsed and died minutes after she gave a
speech protesting the Army Corps of Engineers policy of illegally permitting
valley fills at mountaintop removal operations. The April 1 turnout was heavy,
as were our hearts. Mike Forman implored us to carry on in his wifes name.
Fittingly, Mike introduced Dave Cooper, who would, in one months time, take
the position left open by Lauras death. We told the Corps: Only Fools Bury
April 8 - Boone, Logan, Whats The Difference? Why A
Mountaintop Removal Permit Hearing Is Postponed
The Army Corps of Engineers postponed a public hearing on the
Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed 3,100-acre (Hobet)
Spruce No. 1 Surface Mine, at Pigeon Roost Hollow, near (whats left of)
Blair, Logan County.
Heres why: Nathan Fetty of the WV Rivers Coalition called
OVEC asking if we had noticed that chapter four of the DEIS, "Affected
Environment and Environmental Consequences," (a chapter which oddly enough
starts out by talking about how much the county relies on coal mining) was about
BOONE County. But this proposed massive MTR site is entirely within LOGAN
County. Oops! We contacted the Corps, and after some public embarrassment, the
Corps postponed the hearing. No word yet on the new hearing date.
15 - Local Environmentalists Meet With Office of Surface Mining
Leaders from OVEC, Coal River Mountain Watch, WV Highlands
Conservancy, WV Rivers Coalition, WV-Citizen Action Group and Citizens Coal
Council met with Jeffrey Jarrett, the new Director of the federal Office of
Surface Mining. Jarrett requested the meeting with West Virginia
environmentalists, perhaps because he knows OSM has been absurdly lackadaisical
in getting the WV Department of Environmental Protection to enforce coal-mining
16 - Protest at Massey Energys Annual Stockholder Meeting
Coalfield residents, citizen activists and union miners traveled
from West Virginia to Richmond, Virginia to protest outside Massey Energys
Annual Stockholder meeting.
Whitesville resident Freda Williams got to read a statement
inside the meeting, letting Massey know West Virginians are sick of Masseys
Bad Corporate Behavior.
Massey shareholders got the message that mountain massacre and
failed coal sludge impoundments are the eco-cidal and unacceptable results of
Masseys unscrupulous quest for profits.
The crowd gathers before heading to Massey
16-17 - Refinery Reform Campaign visits DC
OVEC well knows the pollution/health problems associated with
petrochemical refineries from our ten years of work demanding that the
Catlettsburg, Ky., Ashland Oil refinery clean up its emissions.
The tools we used in our successful efforts to clean up the air
around that plant are at risk. Thats why, even though refineries are not a
focus of OVECs current work, we were invited to join the Refinery Reform
Campaigns visit to Washington, DC.
We came to talk with congressional staffers about the Bush
proposals to gut the Clean Air Act. In West Virginia alone, over 200 industrial
plants (coal-fired power plants, chemical plants and others) could increase
their toxic emissions if Bush grants polluters their complete wish-list.
As we go to press, newspapers are reporting that Bush will OK
Cheneys corrupt Energy Task Force recommendations, and "roll to
black" the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act.
OVEC's Vivian Stockman, center, with members of theRefinery Reform Campaign from
across the nation.
April 19 - Granny
D delivers Earth Day Speech on MTR and Laura Forman
Two OVECians had the grand privilege of hearing Doris
"Granny D" Haddock deliver the speech "Be like Laura: Keep your
eye on the ball" to students at American University (Washington, DC) for
Earth Day (delivered on April 19). Granny D, the campaign finance reform
crusader who walked across America at age 90, loves OVEC!
She said, "I am here to remind you to keep your eye on
the ball - the beautiful blue-green ball that runs around the Sun in the company
of Venus and Mars. This ball we live upon. This ball our children and
grandchildren may or may not live upon And so, to the extent that any person
can make a dedication, I dedicate Earth Day 2002 to Laura Forman and to Mike and
Donald and to their friends in West Virginia who are fighting the bad guys, the
greedy, the corrupt, the powerful. God bless Laura Forman, for people like Laura
provide the real homeland defense for all of us. They are not distracted. They
have their eye on the blue-green ball Go to West Virginia and help them save
the mountains and pass a clean elections law there, as they are now working on.
If you cant send your body, send your money Dont hide in self-effacing
modesty - be a hero of this great planet. Be like Laura, full of love and
energy. Follow great people, and lead great people and always, always keep your
eye on the blue-green ball. Be like Laura, always letting your loving heart be
your strength and your guide. Be like Laura, always remembering that we cannot
do for the world what we cannot first do for our friends, our family and the
sweet loves of our lives."
May 17 - Eades v. Raney
For the fourth year in a row, the Hugh OBryan Youth
Leadership conference invited hydrogeologist Rick Eades to speak on the
"Future of Coal" panel opposite West Virginia Coal Association
president Bill Raney. Rick spoke as a representative of OVEC to an audience of
about 140 high school sophomores, one from each each high school in West
Virginia. Rick wowed the kids and trounced Raney.
2 - Thunder in the Hills
OVEC staffer Fout joined the southern regional conference of the
National Lawyers Guild, held May 31-June 2, 2002, in Charleston. The National
Lawyers Guild is made up of attorneys and others across the country "who
work to maintain and protect our civil rights and liberties in the face of
persistent attacks upon them; and who look upon the law as an instrument for the
protection of the people, rather than for their repression."
Activist lawyers, including our own Jason Huber (second from left) enjoy the
breathtaking view. Unfortunately for workers who constructed the tunnel, it was
indeed "breath taking" in all senses of the word.
The Charleston meeting included a labor history tour organized
by Jim Kirby, a Charleston attorney. Participants met Professor Paul Rakes (a
history teacher at WVU-Montgomery) at Hawks Nest State Park. He discussed the
worst labor disaster in national history the deaths of many workers from the
construction of the tunnel at Hawks Nest. Unsuspecting workers were exposed
and died from inhaling deadly particles of silica (glass). The group also toured
Kayford Mountain, where folks talked with relatives of Larry Gibson and then
viewed mountain massacre for themselves.
June 9 - Citizens for Clean Elections
OVEC believes mountaintop removal/valley fill mining wouldnt
be so out of control if Big Coal didnt contribute so heavily to politicians
campaigns. Thats why we are part of the diverse coalition called Citizens for
Clean Elections. CCE members appeared before a legislature subcommittee to
discuss the West Virginia Clean Elections Act. The meeting provided an
opportunity for us to make a clear case for the need for alternative, public
financing of elections in West Virginia.
11 - Brother Sun, Sister Air
OVEC staffers joined with many of our friends from the WV
Interfaith Global Climate Change Campaign at the "Blessing of Brother Sun,
Sister Air Energy Project" on Potato Knob in Webster County. The service
honored the wind generator and solar panel project at the home of Todd Garland
and Carol Warren, two of an ever-growing number of folks who are making the
switch to truly clean energy. Its obvious we cant wait on the government
to lead us into the new energy future. Folks like Carol and Todd are leading the
way for us.
Keith McIntire (with level) of Savage Solar, explains the solar and wind system
that powers the Warren-Garland household.
As we go to press, upcoming activities include a Stop MTR
strategy meeting, the Coal Summit and OVECs attendance at the Outdoor Writers
of America Association annual meeting, held this year in Charleston.
Please join OVEC in our actions we guarantee you we have
more fun than the greedhead polluters!