In the Wake of Harrassment and Cold Weather, the Coal River Tree Sits Stays Strong

posted by scott parkin

The three tree sitters positioned near Massey’s Bee Tree Strip Mine on Coal River Mountain weathered their first night with Massey’s attempts to break them with bright lights and loud noises (those ear plugs come in pretty handy) and cold January weather with no problems at all. Sitting in barren oak trees and a poplar, Eric Blevins, 28, Amber Nitchman, 19, and David Aaron Smith, 23 have all stated that they intend to stay until the blasting ends.

Check out this brief video of the tree sit set up:
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Yesterday, West Virginia police arrested two ground support and left the area. After their departure Massey began clearing trees around the tree sit making room for cherry picker to extract the sitters. For unknown reasons, the cherry picker left the premises. Too rough a terrain? Weather? The tree-sitters are currently not located on the permit, but close to it. Regulations do require that no blasting occur when individuals are 300 feet from the blast area. The trees’ location on Coal River Mountain directly impedes on Massey Energy’s attempt to build an access road to an impoundment where the toxic leftovers from coal processing (or, “slurry”) are being held back from the communities below. Their banners state: “EPA: Halt the Blasting”, “Windmills Not Toxic Spills”, and “Save Coal River Mountain.”

In Charleston yesterday, before the Blankenship vs. Kennedy debate, a group dropped a banner off of the bridge over the Kanawha River. The action was in solidarity with the tree sit.

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