Coal Tattoo


Photo by Antrim Caskey

After introducing a resolution against congressional action on global warming a day after he met with coalfield residents to hear their concerns about mountaintop removal, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin might find it hard for folks to buy his line that he’s seeking calm in the coalfields.

But maybe that’s what Manchin is trying to do now … The governor has inserted himself  — or perhaps he’s been inserted, I’m not sure which —  into the ongoing dispute between Climate Ground Zero tree-sitters and their supporters, Massey Energy, and the State Police.

I’m told the governor plans a meeting tomorrow morning with the State Police and Raleigh County authorities to discuss concerns expressed by citizen groups that Massey’s security guards are harassing and endangering the protesters.

Recall that three protesters took to the trees at Massey’s Coal River Mountain operations last Thursday, the same day Massey CEO Don Blankenship debated Robert F. Kennedy here in Charleston. One of the three has since come down, but the other two are still there nearly a week later.


But now, Climate Ground Zero and its supporters are pretty upset with the way Massey is treating the uninvited visitors to their mining site.  According to the group:

Since the sitters began their occupation of the trees on Thursday morning, the security guards for Massey Energy – the coal company who owns the Bee Tree Mine – have been blasting air horns mounted just below the sitters’ platforms.  At night, the horns are accompanied by flood lights. (see Climate Ground Zero photo, above)


At one point, security personnel tied a rope to a thinner tree next to the one occupied by Nitchman, and repeatedly pulled and released the rope so that it would hit the bottom of Nitchman’s platform.


Climate Ground Zero has been urging its supporters to bombard Manchin’s office with phone calls, asking him to tell the state policy to put a stop to this sort of activity at the protest site.

Matt Turner, Gov. Manchin’s communications director, told me a little while ago the governor has been working the phones on this and trying to come up with some sort of resolution:

We’ve been doing what we can. The governor has been in touch to see what we can do to resolve it.

Stay tuned …