Manchin statement on tree-sitters meeting

January 28, 2010 by Ken Ward Jr.

Here’s a statement West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin just issued regarding a meeting he had this morning with the folks from Climate Ground Zero regarding concerns about Massey Energy’s response to the anti-mountaintop removal tree sitters:

I want opinions on mountaintop mining to be heard in a respectful, open and lawful dialogue; however, no one person’s right supersedes another’s. The environmentalists this morning told me they admit they are violating the law by trespassing, but they are concerned that countermeasures taken by the property owner are endangering the health and welfare of the demonstrators.

I have asked the State Police and mine safety officials to investigate the tree sitters’ allegations that decibel levels are dangerously high, and we have contacted the county prosecutor’s office to determine if the land owners are in violation of any law.

If the police and prosecutor determine that the law is being broken, I am sure they will pursue that. Even if we disagree, I believe we can walk away respecting each other but everyone – including activists and property owners — must do so within the letter of the law.

14 Responses to “Manchin statement on tree-sitters meeting”

  1. scofield says:

    Until the horns started blaring, the tree sit wasn’t getting much attention. Now its been picked up by the Washington Post and others and helped the environmenalists score a statement from the Governor that puts their POV on par with Massey’s. Looks like Massey badly overplayed its hand.

  2. […] more from the original source: Blogs @ The Charleston Gazette – » Manchin statement on tree … tags: asked-the-state, county, first-year, frank-buddingh, near-the-summit, […]

  3. JM2 says:

    I have no simpathy for the tree sitters. They are trespassing on private property and disrupting the land owners lawful enjoyment (use) of that property. Why are the police taking measures to get those people out of the trees instead of waiting for them to come down? I bet if a bunch of employees of that mine went and camped out in Rock Creek at the trespassers residence the police would arrest and remove the miners from the protestors’ residence.

    If Massey has to take measures to convince the trespassors to come out of the trees, I say good for Massey. If I had people trying to disrupt my private property rights I would take any legal measures I could to remove them too.

  4. Jason Robinson says:

    JM no matter what that still wouldn’t give you the legal right to assault the trespasser’s persons with the intent to maim or disfigure. Sympathy aside, this is a clear case of a disproportionate and illegal response. I understand how Massey et al may be frustrated but I wonder if they haven’t stepped too far over the line with this.

  5. JM2 says:

    Jason Robinson, if the trespassors do not have the proper safety and fall prevention equipment with them that is not Massey’s fault. I think that use of the loud noises and spotlights are not illegal. While I do not want to see anyone hurt, the trespassers knew the risks involved in their activities before they climbed the trees, and they could fall out of a tree just as easily if it was a Massey security guard asking them to come down nicely with a flash light.

  6. Andrew says:

    The tree sitters are attempting to make an inherently dangerous situation – interfering with the operation of a mountaintop removal site – as safe as it can be. By blasting air horns around the clock, Massey Security, in their effort to deter the tree sitters, was making the situation more dangerous – for the tree sitters and also for their workers who depend audible signals to communicate vital information across the mine site.

    In addition to the danger of masking the audio signals on the mine site, blasting noise at the decibel level of the horns threatens to permanently damage the hearing of the tree sitters. That constitutes violence. There is a There is a big difference in what you can do to violent trespassers in your home (castle doctrine!) and what you can do to non-violent trespassers in a place of business.

    It would be interesting to see how the folks at Rock Creek would respond to a non-violent trespass from Massey employees. Hopefully there would be some good conversation, maybe sharing food. But, so far all we’ve had are a couple violent trespasses.

    Hats off to the tree sitters for taking a stand against the destruction of Coal River Mountain. We wouldn’t have any of the rights JM seems to be so proud of if it weren’t for brave women and men standing up against injustices throughout our history.

  7. Watcher says:

    Why in the world would the governor grant a meeting with this group anyway as w’ve ben informed many,many times CGZ has nothing to do with this tree sit or any other ?

  8. JM2 says:

    I still say the treepassers should be forced down by law enforcement, and not allowed to stay in the trees. If law enforcement would dod there job these tresspassers would not be exposed to any potential danger from the legal mining operation.

  9. Faith says:

    If law enforcement and regulatory agencies did their job, there would be no need for the kids to be in the trees. The trouble is….for years, WV politicians have sided with the coal industry, placing their cronies in regulatory oversight positions where they routinely overlook coal industry violations. The truth is…the cards are stacked against coalfield residents fighting the coal industry. If there was any real justice, mountaintop removal would have stopped following Judge Haden’s ruling. In the course of history, these kids will be upheld as the social justice heroes that they are.

  10. Watcher says:

    If anything were to happen(god forbid) to these people, and massey is held in any way responsible, so should climate ground zero as the group who is clearly in charge here.

  11. Angel says:

    I am so grateful to know that the tree sitters are stepping up for all of us. Whether you agree with the way they did it is not what’s important! What is important is the water we drink, our children drink, the environment, the irreversible damage that mountain top removal and coal plants has on our planet. Wake up people, I knew nothing about the impact until this was all brought to my attention just one week ago…and now that I have done my research I am saddened by our government officials ignoring what scientists told them all for monetary gain.

  12. scott14 says:

    There is nothing illegal about shining a light or blasting a horn at someone. Look at what the photogs do to celebs everyday. They are bombarded with flashbulbs and intrusive pictures everyday. These people are common criminals and should be treated as such. I wonder if these folks would like it if the coal miners came to rock creek and their protest stoped the power company from restoring power to there house?

  13. Jason Robinson says:

    Scott if what we hear is true then these decibel levels are above the safe level for workers. That’s illegal. I would guess that if any protestors went to Rock Creek they would not be physically assaulted like this. Whether you like it or not, I would think that everyone would agree with Roselle that there is absolutely nothing common about this sort of thing whatsoever. What did you think of Larry Gibson’s “visitor” back during the summer? Common criminal? Or Not So Common?

  14. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    OK folks … I think we’ve had enough on this one … Environmentalists think the tree-sitters are heroes. Coal miners think they’re “common criminals.”

    I’m not sure that “common” is the right adjective…getting arrested for sitting in a tree to stop a strip mine hardly seems common to me.

    In any event, the back and forth here isn’t getting anybody anywhere, so I’m shutting off the comments on this one.

    Ken.