Massey Energy just issued a statement that blasted “domestic terrorists” the company said “invaded” its Marfork Coal Co. offices. Here’s how the company described today’s protest of conditions at the company’s Brushy Fork impoundment:
Massey Energy Company reported that three criminals clad in fatigues and carrying chains invaded a company office and chained themselves to chairs in the lobby. A terrified receptionist went into shock and was transported by ambulance to a local hospital.
Massey provided reporters with photos of the protesters (see one example above) and company CEO Don Blankenship was quoted as saying:
They are now trying to provoke Massey members into a confrontation. The Raleigh County Prosecutor needs to enforce the law and protect our hard working members. These criminals have been allowed to become more and more aggressive with little repercussion.
The release continued:
The West Virginia State Police arrested the three criminals, who each have a history of prior arrests. Pictures of the criminals can be found below. One of the criminals, Mike Roselle, was a founding member of EarthFirst!, which is considered by many to be a domestic terrorist group.
These domestic terrorists are part of an anti-coal group that wants to shut down mining in Appalachia and destroy West Virginia’s economy. Massey Energy is committed to providing good-paying jobs. As one of the state’s largest revenue sources, Massey coal funds our schools and communities.
Climate Ground Zero has posted on its Web site a “Citizens Arrest Warrant” that it says the protesters delivered to Marfork officials during today’s protest. Here’s part of what it said:
Since 1994, the Marfork Coal Company has committed over 100 documented permit violations. Violations include (but are not limited to) multiple counts of improper blasting procedure (e.g. failure to notify residents of right to request pre-blast survey, failure to properly monitor blasts, etc.), failure to control air pollution, failure to install and/or maintain drainage control systems, and conducting surface mining operations beyond permit limits.Marfork’s continued operations in such close proximity to both Marsh Fork Elementary and the Pettus Head Start Program are not only endangering, but also assaulting the children at these locations with coal dust and other particulates floating off of the mine sites owned by Marfork Coal.
I haven’t been able to get any information from the State Police yet about arrests. But The Associated Press report on today’s events notes it apparently violated a federal court temporary restraining order blocking such protests against Massey operations. A hearing on a permanent longer-term preliminary injunction is set for next Tuesday.
AP reports that all three protesters were charged with trespassing and obstruction. All three were lodged in the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver, with Roselle and Hamsher held on $5,000 cash bonds and Smyth held on $7,000 cash bond.
In addition, Climate Ground Zero has posted a response to Massey’s press release here on its Web site. Among other things, it says:
The three arrested today have committed themselves to nonviolence and had no intention of causing harm to any individual. We regret to hear of the condition of Marfork’s secretary and hope she recovers quickly. However, Hamsher said in a call from jail that she was still working when they were driven away by police.
The only thing destroying West Virginia’s economy is coal and its boom-and-bust cycle. Appalachian counties that produce coal are, across the board, poorer, unhealthier and see shorter lifespans than geographically similar Appalachian counties that don’t produce coal, according to this study. Two other studies, here and here, also show that the coal industry costs government more than it pays in taxes.