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

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October 2009

Major News: EPA May Do Its Job!
DEP Biologist: Agency Chief Huffmans Testimony to Congress Was Ill Informed

Thinking About Your Legacy: An Open Letter from Dr. Ken Hechler

Reflecting on EPAs Announcement
JOBS in the Coalfields, the Right Way
Families in Mingo Co. Sue Over Flooding
Asking the Highest Court in the Land to Hear Our Case
Dear Friends at OVEC
Lindytown - Threats, Dead Horses and Shattered Dreams As the Draglines Creep Ever Closer
Lindytown - From Nice Little Mountain Town to Virtual Ghost Town
EPA Moves to Block WVs Largest MTR Mining Permit
Corps Approves Controversial Permit Despite EPAs Objections
The Trail of Tears - History Is Repeating Itself in WV
Policy Efforts on Family Cemetery Protection Issues
Join the Cemetery Protection Group And Help Find Long-Term Solutions
Awareness is Where Its At
Please Pray for Webster County
Cook Family Cemeteries: Ancestors No Longer Rest In Peace Due to Mountaintop Removal Mining
Coal Slurry: New York Times Nails Clean Water Act Crimes (Many) and Punishment (None)
Victory! Public Water Lines Finally Coming to Prenter
Goodbye Patricia, Welcome Stephanie! - New Organizer Joins SSP Effort
WVU Studying Effects of Coal Slurry Injection on Health
Working to Reduce Coal Prep Plant Air Pollution
Six Southern WV Communities to Benefit from EPA Grant
Judge Thornsbury Disqualified from Presiding in Slurry Injection Case
Coal Country - the movie: Film Debuts To Packed Crowd After Concerns Almost Cancel Showing
Help End MTR and Help Coal Country Have a Party!
OVEC: Power With!
What Happens In Valleys Is As Important As What Happens On Mountain Peaks
Plundering Appalachia - The Book, Is Here!
Chemicals and Their Dangers Force People From Kanawha Valley
Clean Elections - Saving WV From Future Scandals
Why Manchin and Co. Dont Care About Health in the Coalfields
Eating For OVEC Keeps Raising $$$
Carbon Tax: Our ACES in the Hole for Real Change
Report: Global Warming Causes 300,000 Deaths A Year, Toll to Increase
Remembering Conley Branch - May It Always Be In My Heart
United Against MTR:
Red Bandanas, Dreadlocks, Clean-Cut, Old Folks and Young
TV News Fails to Cover Mountaintop Removal Well, Or At All
Nominations for OSM Chief
University Divesting of Massey Stock, Others May Follow
Toxic Legislation: Selenium at the Legislature; OVEC Appeal to EPA

For viewing the PDF version of the newsletter

Winds of Change Newsletter, October 2009     See sidebar for table of contents

United Against MTR:
Red Bandanas, Dreadlocks, Clean-Cut, Old Folks and Young

by Terry and Wilma Steele, excerpted from an opinion piece published Sept. 5, 2009, in the Huntington Herald-Dispatch

The United Mine Workers of America is getting ready for its 71st Labor Day Rally at Racine. There will be much talk of clean coal, pro-coal, pro-union and to top it off, a bashing of environmentalists.

Our (UMWA) president, Cecil Roberts, will probably support mountaintop removal, because the union represents a few hundred MTR miners. A few of them will be there, but some may be over in Holden on a MTR site for the "Friends of America" event.

That event is hosted by Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey. Dons guest: Vietnam draft dodger Ted Nugent. I wonder if he will once again come on stage with AK-47s ranting obscenities about Obama and Hillary.

Next, Hank Williams Jr. singing, "Why do I drink and why do I roll smoke? Its just a family tradition." Teachers, hows that for an excuse? Or maybe the union MTR miners will join him in the lyrics, "...union against the worker, working against his will..." Im sure your union granddads would love that.

What the UMWA had better realize is that some of its strongest union men are fighting with the environmentalists against MTR. These miners, like this writer, have lived and worked all their lives in WV. We have watched the deep mines close; MTR mines take our jobs, our land and our union. More recently, we watched the muddy flood waters pour off these sites, as it took roads and homes.

Just a few MTR mines chained the union to the real enemy. There are only two sides to this issue. On the right is Don standing at Logan, wrapped in the pretense of American freedom, with his bought judges, DEP agents and many misled souls. Don stands with promises of jobs and security. In one hand, is a new mining permit, and in the other is dynamite. In his heart and mind is power to put down the UMWA, the environmentalist, and to mine coal his way: nonunion, unregulated, any way he wants!

Over in Racine is Cecil Roberts, a descendant of Bill Blizzard. In one hand is the mine safety laws that saved thousands, in the other hand is a history of the proud stand of the working man that yielded a better life.

Today, miners are divided between Racine and Holden. In the middle is Blair Mountain. Eighty-eight years ago in the months of August and September another Don, backed by big coal and Gov. Morgan, rained down explosives on Blair Mountain and the union miners. There were many red bandannas streaked with blood and sweat but redeemed by honor and courage. Don won the battle but lost the war!

Now, another Don, backed by big coal and Gov. Manchin, is trying to remove Blair Mountain from the Historic Register. Don has it in his crosshairs and armed with explosives, he plans to blast it away.

Standing up to these giants is a ragtag, multicultural, red bandanna army made up of old UMWA miners, their families and the environmentalists. The only weapons they carry are courage and truth. Their mission: stop MTR!

They scale the highest cranes; row across the dirtiest sludge ponds; ride trains and fly planes; they dance in peace amid obscenities and threats; they lobby Washington; chain themselves to the DEP office doors and trees; fight to protect graveyards; write grants; clean mud from floods; photograph and film history to shout the truth until someone listens!

Unchain yourselves from Don and let the truth set you free!

(Terry L. Steele is a member of UMWA Local 1440 and Wilma L. Steele is a Mingo County teacher. Both are members of OVEC.)


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