Coal Tattoo

Activists take their message to Arch Coal HQ

The Gazette’s Dr. Paul Nyden had the story this morning about seven anti-mountaintop removal activists who took their protest against the practice to Arch Coal’s corporate headquarters in St. Louis:

Seven people, including at least one West Virginian, locked themselves to a 500-pound potted tree inside Arch Coal’s headquarters in Creve Coeur, Mo. on Tuesday in a protest against strip mining.

A larger group performed songs and dances in the building’s lobby, according to the protesters, who are affiliated with the groups Radical Action for Mountain Peoples’ Survival, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, and Mountain Justice.

“We’re here to halt Arch’s operations for as long as we can. These coal corporations do not answer to communities, they only consume them. We’re here to resist their unchecked power,” Margaret Fetzer, one of the protesters, said in a news release.

I believe this is the first move by the mountaintop removal protest groups since their visit last October to the Capitol to try to meet with West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, and it may be the first such action involving any arrests since the protest that sparked such a stir last July down at the Hobet Mining complex along the Boone-Lincoln County border.

There’s video of yesterday’s protest available:

One thing that was a little puzzling was some of the comments about the status of Arch Coal’s Adkins Fork Surface Mine near Blair Mountain.  The initial RAMPS press release said:

Arch’s Adkins Fork Surface Mine is blasting away Blair Mountain—the site of the second largest uprising in U.S. history and a milestone in the long-standing struggle between Appalachians and the coal companies.

Later, they issued a “correction” that said:

Our apologies.  Our release we sent to you this morning incorrectly stated that Arch Coal’s Adkins Fork permit is blasting away at Blair Mountain.  It should say the permit “is threatening to blast away Blair Mountain…”

And in his story, Dr. Nyden wrote:

Arch’s Adkins Fork Surface Mine has already begun working on Blair Mountain, where the historic confrontation between union miners and company guards developed in August 1921.

Now, the last I heard, Arch Coal’s Mingo Logan subsidiary was seeking to renew the surface mining permit for Adkins Fork, but the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s online database lists the status of that mine as “not started.”