Another day, another anti-mountaintop removal protest

October 22, 2009 by Ken Ward Jr.

The Associated Press is reporting that eight activists with Climate Ground Zero have been arrested in a mountaintop removal mining protest in the Cabin Creek area of Kanawha County.

We’ve got the AP dispatch posted on the Gazette Web site here, and  there’s more information available on the Climate Ground Zero site here.

18 Responses to “Another day, another anti-mountaintop removal protest”

  1. Brandon says:

    Hmmm. I take a big interest to this story Mr. Ward due to the fact that this mine isn’t a mountaintop removal site or at least it doesn’t appear to be. I attended this mine site 1 week ago to give them my resume due to you and other environmental extremists getting the samples mine shut down. This mine appeared to b a contour mine that is located next to the road. I thought you guys were not opposed to “the way strip mining use to be done”? Another example of “wanting it both ways”. My my this will never end.

  2. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    I’m not sure who “you and other environmental extremists” is supposed to mean, but I would ask you not to call people “extremists” on my blog.

    Feel free to disagree with the positions people take, or even with their tactics. But don’t call them names like “extremists.” It doesn’t add one bit to a reasonable discussion of these issues.

    While I feel for your personal situation, I would point out to you, as I have before, that your former company did not cite any problems with permit delays or environmental regulations when it closed the Samples Mine.

    Please refer to this blog post,, or if you don’t believe that, to the company press release, explaining their decision.

    They said, and I quote:

    “As we continue to balance our production levels with the soft thermal coal demand, our strategy is to concentrate production at lower-cost mining complexes. By ceasing operations at this higher-cost surface mine, Patriot will keep valuable permitted reserves in the ground until the market yields more favorable pricing and margins,” said Patriot Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Whiting. “We appreciate the contributions of the employees at the Samples mine over the years and regret that these challenging markets have required us to take this action.”

    I can certainly understand your anger. But you’ve got the facts wrong.

    Thanks for reading and commenting,

  3. STEVE says:

    Aren’t we tender about name calling. I can’t understand why that young man would call you or your friends any names. Maybe he was at the hearing at the Civic Center or read the blogs when we were referred to as uneducated or was it stupid or something like that. Come on police your own before you try to police ours. This isn’t 1999.

  4. scofield says:

    What is your objective assessment of the impact of these protests on strip mining activities and policy debates?

  5. Scott 14 says:

    Scofield, It doesnt matter one bit. Because miners vote, and there are more of us.

  6. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    I certainly have not written (or even thought) that the miners at the Civic Center Corps hearing — or any other coal miners I’ve met or known — are “stupid” or “uneducated.”

    And I don’t believe that any comments from readers on Coal Tattoo have said so. If they did, I would remove them. There’s no need for name-calling from either side.

    If you can point me to any posts that called miners “stupid” or “uneducated” I will be glad to remove them.

    Scott 14 — Of course, coal miners vote. I’m not sure that the data that’s available supports your assertion that there are more coal miners than there are other members of the public who oppose mountaintop removal. I’m aware of at least 3 polls in West Virginia on the matter, and two of the three showed a majority of those surveyed opposed the practice. There was also a national poll that showed most Americans oppose the practice.

    And of course, a presidential election isn’t decided on West Virginia or another other coal state alone. It’s a national election decided by the count of the electoral college.

    Karl Rover said that elections have consequences … and one of the things that is happening now is that the policies that the American people voted in favor of (such as stronger environmental protections — and stronger workplace protections for coal miners) are being put into practice by the Obama administration.

    As for the impact of the protests, it’s pretty obvious that folks who oppose mountaintop removal — at least the hard-core folks to whom this is a major issue in their lives — are pleased about the protests. I’m just as sure that mountaintop removal supporters don’t like the protests — that’s pretty obvious, right?

    What impact are the protests having on policy? I frankly don’t have any idea.

    Thanks, Ken.

  7. rhmooney3 says:


    U.S. Monthy Coal Production

    U.S. Electric Power Sector Coal Stockpiles

    Comment about protests: In these economic times, opposite that would cause unemployment of any kind would not be well received by the many who trying to find employment — like me.
    (Note: I have been concerned about mining environnmental impacts for a half century.)

    Poll: Americans’ belief in global warming cools
    Associated Press
    (Excerpt) The poll of 1,500 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that only 57 percent believe there is strong scientific evidence the Earth has gotten hotter over the past few decades, and as a result, people are viewing the situation as less serious. That’s down from 77 percent in 2006, and 71 percent in April 2008.

  8. rwc says:

    rhmooney3,would that poll reflect the beliefs because not all scientists are in agreement on what is the cause of climate change? steve i haven’t read anything that ken ward has ever called people uneducated or stupid,but i do recall the “thug” word put into the article on the kayford mine incident.that is where the name calling line has been crossed quite a few times.

  9. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    First of all, the vast majority of scientists in the appropriate fields have been very clear about what is causing global warming … Just last week, 18 leading scientific organizations warned Congress:

    Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.

    These conclusions are based on multiple independent lines of evidence, and contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of the vast body of peer-reviewed science. Moreover, there is strong evidence that ongoing climate change will have broad impacts on society, including the global economy and on the environment. For the United States, climate change impacts include sea level rise for coastal states, greater threats of extreme weather events, and increased risk of regional water scarcity, urban heat waves, western wildfires, and the disturbance of biological systems throughout the country. The severity of climate change impacts is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades.

    Second, I don’t believe that I ever used the word thug in my coverage of the Kayford incident. That post is here:

    However, upon re-reading the comments just now, I see that one reader, Bo Webb, did use that word. I have removed that comment — I appreciate you bringing it to my attention.

    I assume that everyone can agree that the behavior of the individuals in that video was not acceptable in our society. At least I hope everyone can agree on that.


  10. Bob Kincaid says:


    I’m sure mountain removers do vote. So do florists. According to the last I saw of the labor stats, there are more florists in West Virginia than mountain removers. There are also more hospitality workers, more nurses, more retails workers and more teachers. Mountain removers like to inflate their value in West Virginia’s economy, when their numbers are, according to their own industry, rather small at less than 4,000.

    That’s the baseline problem: mountain removal is machinery-rich and labor-poor. As has been noted by a number of people on this blog and elsewhere, mountain removal eliminates more jobs than it creates.

    I have no doubt that mountain removers vote. My hope, however, is that the florists, hospitality workers, tourism workers, nurses and teachers manage to elect candidates who will speak for the broad scope of our state and its future over the narrow self-interests of the mountain removal industry.

  11. Katrina says:

    Ken Ward quote:
    “I’m just as sure that mountaintop removal supporters don’t like the protests — that’s pretty obvious, right?”
    I just want to respond to this quote only, I don’t care about the debate side of it. I am an MTM supporter, and I am indifferent about the protests. It’s not that I like/dislike or agree/disagree with them, my problem is that they are putting their lives at risk. They step onto a mine site not knowing anything about it. The rock trucks cannot stop on a dime, dozer operators cannot see all around them they have huge blind spots, and there are explosives being used. These protestors are basically children running around on a job site where they could potentially be flattened or blown to bits and they don’t have a clue.

    Big deal they have yellow vests on. That doesn’t help them in the slightest way.

    Why not go to the Army Corp of Engineers office and annoy them? They are the “demons” that are issuing the permits.

    Why put your lives in danger just to unfurl a sign anyway? I just don’t get it.

  12. Nanette says:

    This state also has many more retired people who vote. Many of them retired miners and their wives who are totally against MTR.
    Actually the pro MTR people are a very small minority in this state.

  13. coal is great says:

    At the events I have attended, MTR far out numbered any other group.

  14. Judy Bonds says:

    I would just like to say that this state almost feels like 1963 Mississippi during the civil rights movement. It did appear as if more people in Mississippi was against “civil rights” and change – including the state politicians. This was because of fear, violence and intimidation from those in the state that did not want change. People said the protests for change then were dangerous as well.
    When people get slapped, threatened, pushed, and then get verbally assaulted and heckled at “public hearings” where there is police presence then that creates intimidation for others. No wonder MTR supporters out number us at recent events.
    In all of the polls that I have seen, with the exception of 1 poll, the results show that most people are against mountaintop removal. It is hard to get people to speak out publicly when they are afraid of violent retribution when expressing their first amendment rights.

  15. Scott 14 says:

    Ken, if you please could. Post these polls on mtr and also please list who paid for the poll and exactly what question was ask.

  16. scofield says:

    I second the motion to have the polls posted. If a majority of W.Virginians oppose MTR, then the protesters are not taking an unpopular position and should not compare themselves to the civil rights workers who opposed a racial caste system that was clearly popular in the Deep South of not so long ago. I don’t see a civil rights issue in the MTR debate; only a lot of people worried about their jobs today vs a lot of people worried about their environment today and tomorrow.

  17. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    There have been several polls done on mountaintop removal …

    — A May 1998 W.Va. poll found that a majority of West Virginians opposed the practice. I don’t have a link to that one or to the story we published about it. Sorry.

    — Here’s a story about a West Virginia poll in October 1998 that found a majority of W.Va. residents oppose the practice,

    — A 2004 poll by Celinda Lake, a prominent Democratic pollster, which was funded by environmental groups. It also found a majority of West Virginians opposed the practice. Details, including the questions asked, are available here

    — A 2008 poll, also conducted by Lake and paid for by environmental groups, found a majority of Americans opposed mountaintop removal. Details are available at that same link.

    — Earlier this year, a poll by Mark Blankenship’s PR found a majority of West Virginians supported mountaintop removal. Some information on it is available here:

    I’ve asked Mr. Blankenship for details, including all of the questions that were asked. He has not responded to my request.


Leave a Reply