Tag Archives: Coal Mining

Mountaintop removal halted into DAY 8

CGZ actionAs you come in from the cold spell, think of the Coal River Mountain tree-sitters who are passing their seventh night in drizzling cold, getting by with just what they could pack in the first day, their support crews arrested, their trees now blockaded by fences. Attempts to resupply their brave squats have been intercepted, yesterday Ben Fiorillo was arrested, this morning, David Baghdadi. A flyover today yielded great photos, but no means of reaching the sitters with food, water, heat, batteries or ear protection against the high decibel air horns with which the coal mine security men have been harassing the activists. If you can conjure any alternatives for support, contact Climate Ground Zero. The good news: calls from internet supporters have persuaded West Virginia authorities to temper their aggressive counter-eco-insurgency tactics, and thus far Massey Energy has been prevented from blasting in its Mountaintop Removal efforts because of the treesit presence.

I was hoping to provide some insight into the logistics of manning a treesit. So far I’ve not found much available by way of tutorials online, except for a slim pamphlet (PDF) from Reach Out Publications, and great video instructions for cooking in a tree: Buck’s Canopy Cooking.

One reason perhaps is the need to keep the adversaries in the dark. Another very good reason might be that treesitting skills might be best taught like any skill labor, from journeyman to apprentice. Suffice it to say, treesits are 90% about tree climbing. Hence the majority of your focus will be rope skills. Experts recommend these two titles: The Tree Climbers Companion by Jeff Jepson, and On Rope: North American Vertical Rope Techniques
by Bruce Smith and Allen Padgett.

The complexity of climbing should not stop anyone who’s determined to save our wilderness from the industrial rapists. If extreme sport is your thing, why not look into thrills which go beyond your own adrenalin levels? You want to support the troops? These are our troops. Can you think of any braver?

Coal River Mountain BEE TREE Treesit

DAY 5 Coal River Mountain Treesit

Stop Massey Energy mountain top removalCLIMATE GROUND ZERO activist enter their fifth day of their treesit against Massey Energy’s mountaintop removal operations at Coal River Mountain. Tree-sitters David Aaron Smith, Amber Nitchman and Eric Blevins are going strong despite efforts by mine operators to disrupt their perches 60ft above. Support crew Josh Graupera and Isabelle Rozendaal were arrested for trespass and then released on bond; Josh has the latest update on the Bee Tree site. Get involved here.

UPDATE: David Aaron Smith is now in police custody. Nitchman and Blevins remain aloft.

Youtube video updates are provided here. And photos from the treesits are viewable here. The Coal River Wind website details the alternatives to coal mining and mountaintop removal.

Mother Jones and the children of Ludlow

Mary Harris Jones and the children of miners 1914
APRIL 20 MARKS THE 95TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE LUDLOW MASSACRE.
From her 1925 autobiography, Mother Jones wrote about the UMWA strike in Ludlow Colorado, over the harsh winter of 1914.

From Chapter 21:

No one listened. No one cared. The tickers in the offices of 26 Broadway sounded louder than the sobs of women and children. Men in the steam heated luxury of Broadway offices could not feel the stinging cold of Colorado hill-sides where families lived in tents.

Then came Ludlow and the nation heard. Little children roasted alive make a front page story. Dying by inches of starvation and exposure does not.

On the 19th of April, 1914, machine guns, used on the strikers in the Paint Creek strike, were placed in position above the tent colony of Ludlow. Major Pat Hamrock and Lieutenant K. E. Linderfelt were in charge of the militia, the majority of whom were, company gun-men sworn in as soldiers.

Early in the morning soldiers approached the colony with a demand from headquarters that Louis Tikas, leader of the Greeks, surrender two Italians. Tikas demanded a warrant for their arrest. They had none. Tikas refused to surrender them. The soldiers returned to quarters. A signal bomb was fired. Then another. Immediately the machine guns began spraying the flimsy tent colony, the only home the wretched families of the miners had, riddling it with bullets. Like iron rain, bullets’ upon men, women and children.

The women and children fled to the hills. Others tarried. The men defended their home with their guns. All day long the firing continued. Men fell dead, their faces to the ground. Women dropped. The little Snyder boy was shot through the head, trying to save his kitten. A child carrying water to his dying mother was killed.

By five o’clock in the afternoon, the miners had no more food, nor water, nor ammunition. They had to retreat with their wives and little ones into the hills. Louis Tikas was riddled with shots while he tried to lead women and children to safety. They perished with him.

Night came. A raw wind blew down the canyons where men, women and children shivered and wept. Then a blaze lighted the sky. The soldiers, drunk with blood and with the liquor they had looted from the saloon, set fire to the tents of Ludlow with oil-soaked torches. The tents, all the poor furnishings, the clothes and bedding of the miners’ families burned. Coils of barbed wire were stuffed into the well, the miners’ only water supply.

After it was over, the wretched people crept back to bury their dead. In a dugout under a burned tent, the charred bodies of eleven little children and two women were found-unrecognizable. Everything lay in ruins. The wires of bed springs writhed on the ground as if they, too, had tried to flee the horror. Oil and fire and guns had robbed men and women and children of their homes and slaughtered tiny babies and defenseless women. Done by order of Lieutenant Linderfelt, a savage, brutal executor of the will of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. The strikers issued a general call to arms: Every able bodied man must shoulder a gun to protect himself and his family from assassins, from arson and plunder. From jungle days to our own so-named civilization, this is a man’s inherent right. To a man they armed, through-out the whole strike district. Ludlow went on burning in their hearts.

Everybody got busy. A delegation from Ludlow went to see President Wilson. Among them was Mrs. Petrucci whose three tiny babies were crisped to death in the black hole of Ludlow. She had something to say to her President.

Immediately he sent the United States cavalry to quell the gunmen. He studied the situation, and drew up proposals for a three-year truce, binding miner and operator. The operators scornfully refused.

A mass meeting was called in Denver. Lindsay spoke. He demanded that the operators be made to respect the laws of Colorado. That something be done immediately. The Denver Real Estate Exchange appointed a committee to spit on Judge Lindsey for his espousal of the cause of the miners.

Rockefeller got busy. Writers were hired to write pamphlets which were sent broadcast to every editor in the country, bulletins. In these leaflets, it was shown how perfectly happy was the life of the miner until the agitators came; how joyous he was with the company’s saloon,. the company’s pigstys for homes, the cornpany’s teachers and preachers and coroners. How the miners hated the state law of an eight-hour working day, begging to be allowed to work ten, twelve. How they hated the state law that they should have their own check weigh-man to see that they were not cheated at the tipple.

And all the while the mothers of the children who died in Ludlow were mourning their dead.

A Colorado coal mining family

Mister Clean Coal

Mister Clean Coal is industry strength white-wash

My favorite of the ads debunking “Clean Coal” features a coal industry executive telling TV viewers that coal is so clean, it even smells clean.

clean-coal-smudge-reality-tv-spotExcept that having held the lump of coal to his nose, the exec has left a large black smudge.

Absolutely brilliant!

I count four literary allusions. The image invokes: Pinocchio’s duplicity undone by his growing nose; a lie as plain as the nose on his face, a thing so obvious as to lie right beneath his nose; and an embarrassing conceit staring at us like a big piece of spinach stuck between his lying teeth.

Except that embarrassment is Clean Coal.

Clean Coal is a fossil fuels Free Lunch

Clean Coal is a free lunchThere’s no such thing as Clean Coal. The concept is an ingenious public relations gambit like Clean-Skies, an No-Child-Left-Behind. Colorado’s supposedly progressive Governor Bill Ritter is an dirty backer. The attempted makeover of the dark fossil fuel has prompted an equal and opposite public reaction.

Laudably, the industry is trying to raise public awareness to “what lies behind the plug.” They ask energy consumers to face the reality that lights –their television even– have to be powered somehow. The image they use is a piece of coal being tapped by an extension cord. It certainly looks magically detached from any complication. Leaving alone that you have to burn the coal (imagine depicting steaks cooking on a stone cold barbecue grill), I’d defy anyone to handle the piece of coal without getting the orange plug completely smudged.

Of course, clean or not, coal is a fossil fuel, the consumption of which is one of the primary causes of Global Warming, aka Climate Change. “Clean Coal” is just a way for the oldest energy industry to get in on the alternative energy gravy train.

Clean coal is odorless shitThe Coen Brothers have directed a hilarious television ad which parodies the Coal Companies pitching their product as an air freshener, even as the aerosol spews pure smoke.

It’s absolutely dispiriting to see Barack Obama championing “Clean Coal” in a TV spot. Who would not like to think that American ingenuity can figure out a way to burn coal cleanly? If we can reverse osmosis, halt aging and make 0% fat fat, why disbelieve we can’t strip carbon of its essence?

At the America’s Power website, the coal industry promises to use Clean Coal to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and of course, to provide jobs. A US map reveals several Clean Coal research sites in Colorado. They are Boulder, Denver, Englewood, Littleton, Wheat Ridge, Nucla and La Vita.

colorado clean coal

Even if the lipstick on pig research is just a boondoggle to snag Federal funded jobs, aren’t there real alternative energy sources to pursue?