Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Archive list of "E"- Notes newsletters

Click below to read articles online, or try the PDF version to view or print a replica of the paper newsletter

June 2002

Backstreet Boy
Spotlights Mountain Massacre

Male Suspect Seen Entering OVEC Office

"On the Road to Clean Elections" Debuts in West Virginia

Valley fills, sludge spills, flood chills and judge thrills

MTR Smothering Vital Headwater Stream Systems

Bush to Appalachia: Gee, I Wish I Had the Time to Care

Think Pollution Isn't Costing You?

Politics and the Environmental Impact Statement on MTR - It's Not Pretty

OVEC in ACTION - A Few of the Things We've Been Up To Lately

What's in a Name? Momentary Fame for You, if You're the Winner

Be Sure to Send a Note of "Thanks!" to Judge Haden

THANKS to Our Many, Many Treehugger's Ball Supporters!

Miscellany


For viewing the PDF version

 

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).

Feb. 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 1

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 OVEC staffers.

Feb. 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 Creek

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 demand change.  

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 residents.

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 coal.

April 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 Streams!

 

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.

April 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 laws.

April 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

April 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.

June 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.

June 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!

 

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