April 27, 2009
Contact: Charles Suggs, Matt Louis-Rosenberg or Glen Collins: 304-854-7372.
Climate Ground Zero activists face contempt charge for violating judge's order to halt anti-mountaintop removal protests
Eleven activists are set to appear before Raleigh County District Judge Robert Burnside to show why they should not be held in contempt for violating temporary restraining orders (TRO) brought by four Massey Energy subsidiaries. Massey said the activists violated the TRO by stopping work again on March 5 and April 16th on the Edwight Surface Mine in Raleigh County. The defendants, who were cited for trespass and released, are awaiting trial on charges of criminal trespass.
The restraining orders were the result of three protests in February that halted Massey mountaintop removal operations on the Edwight mine and on Coal River Mountain.
The activists say the restraining orders are overly broad and should be vacated because they not only bar those that have already trespassed on company property, but “all other persons allied, associated, confederating, conspiring, or acting in concert with them,” and indeed anyone who ever finds about the restraining orders, from trespassing on Massey property or interfering with the company in any way. The defendants are also barred from aiding or assisting in any way, others in doing the same. Nine of those charged with contempt of court were not named on the restraining orders and activist Mike Roselle is charged with contempt only for allegedly recruiting participants for the March 5 protest.
Lawyers for Massey have requested that defendants be ordered to pay compensatory damages or a maximum of $5,000 per person (whichever is greater) and compensate Massey for all court costs. Massey has also requested that all photographs and videos of the protests be turned over to them, that any and all publication of the same be barred, and that all proceeds from the use of the media be turned over to them. Finally, Massey is requesting that all the defendants be jailed until they swear in open court never to violate the restraining orders again. According to West Virginia State Code Section 48-1-304, the maximum sentence for civil contempt of court is a 6-month jail sentence.
“Massey Energy cannot silence us” said Mike Roselle of Climate Ground Zero. “Massey Energy is a corrupt and criminal syndicate and we will prove this in court. It is Massey that is trespassing on the public domain by irreparably altering the landscape and poisoning the air and water of this community.”
The contempt hearing is scheduled for May 1, at 10 a.m. in Beckley, W.Va.
Reposted from http://www.kentucky.com/181/story/762526.html
By Andy Mead - email@example.com
CLIFTY WILDERNESS — The federal stimulus package is at work in some of Kentucky's most rugged back country.
It's hard, sometimes dangerous work. But in Menifee County, where one of every five is out of work, a temporary job making $15.50 an hour clearing ice-storm debris from trails is a blessing.
Darrell Hess, who with his general contractor partner Leonard Brown hired the other three men in the crew, gives the rundown.
There is Bill Peck, who usually works in construction, then got a factory job, then got laid off. There is Walter Centers, who worked off and on for Hess for years, then left for a regular job a year ago — and was laid off. There is Dave Holdorff, who owns a welding business, but hasn't had enough work lately to keep the shop lights on.
Hess and Brown do all sorts of work: some logging, excavating, building fences, a little farming.
But, with the economy like it is, all those things had been slow.
"I'll be honest with you," Hess said. "I was glad to hear about this because I didn't know where my next job was going to come from."
The men were working Wednesday on Osborne Bend Trail, known to local horse riders at Powderhouse Trail, in the Clifty Wilderness. The 13,000-acre wilderness is part of the Red River Gorge in the Daniel Boone National Forest.
The Daniel Boone was one of the first national forests to get some of the $1.15 billion in stimulus money being funneled through the Forest Service. The Boone forest's portion was $550,000. The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in Western Kentucky, where damage from the January ice storm was more severe, got $3 million.
The Daniel Boone hired Swift & Staley, a Western Kentucky contractor that already had been approved to do work in Land Between the Lakes, and that company hired local subcontractors in Eastern Kentucky.
Five crews totaling two dozen people are clearing trails and roads in the gorge and other parts of Daniel Boone's Cumberland Ranger District.
Two crews with a total of eight people are clearing damage from a February wind storm from the Redbird Crest Trail in the Boone's Redbird Ranger District.
Most of the crews are using chain saws or whatever power equipment they need.
But because of rules governing a nationally designated wilderness, no motorized vehicles or tools may be used to clear trails that cross the Clifty.
You might hear them work before you see them, but you would have to listen carefully for the whinnying of a horse or the soft rasping of a cross-cut saw.
The men pack their tools, their lunch and themselves on four horses and a mule. They use cross-cut and bow saws and axes to clear trees and limbs that had been blocking trails since late January.
The work can be back-breaking — sawing through a thick red oak trunk quickly teaches why a 6-foot cross-cut saw is also called a "misery whip." But the men are all from Menifee County. Although they all needed the work, Hess said, more than just money is involved.
All the men had grown up running up and down the steep hills that now are the Clifty. They all ride horses on the trails, even when they aren't coming in to work.
And there's the larger economic picture. Hess's father runs a horse camp, and already people are calling from distant places, trying to make summer plans and wondering if the trails will be open.
"This part of the forest holds a great interest for tourists and for our local merchants and our community because a lot of people come to visit this area," he said. "This is an important project to a lot of people."
Standing on a ridge in the thick forest on Wednesday, when an overcast sky was keeping the men cool and the horses frisky, Hess also noted the advantage of working in a place where most people come to get away from it all.
"It's the most beautiful office I ever set in," he said.
Reach Andy Mead at (859) 231-3319 or 1-800-950-6397, ext. 3319.
Mysterious Bat-Killing Disease Found In 2 Va. Caves
[See video at <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2009/04/10/VI2009041001304.html?sid=ST2009041003644>
By Brigid Schulte
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 11, 2009; Page A01
First, the frogs began disappearing, with as many as 122 species becoming extinct worldwide since 1980. Then honeybee colonies began to collapse. Scientists fear that bats might be next.
For the past three years, biologists in Virginia have been nervously watching a strange die-off of bats in the Northeast as a mysterious fungus spread rapidly through hibernating bat colonies, leaving caves that once served as safe havens for the hibernating creatures carpeted with the tiny, emaciated carcasses of an estimated 1 million dead bats.
Biologists here were hoping that the fungus would somehow be contained or would burn itself out. Instead, they were shocked last week when researchers confirmed the presence of the fungus, dubbed white nose syndrome for the ring of white fungus that collects on bats' muzzles and wings, in two caves in the state: Breathing Cave in Bath County and Clover Hollow in Giles County, hundreds of miles from the other known infected caves.
"We thought we'd have more time to prepare," said Rick Reynolds, a wildlife biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. But it wouldn't have mattered. "Unfortunately, no one knows what to do about it."
What is known is this: As many as 90 to 100 percent of the bats in infected colonies have died within a year of finding the fungus. And with its spread this far south, there's no reason to think it will stop. Scientists are beginning to whisper the unthinkable: complete annihilation of some species.
Just south of the infected Virginia caves, in Kentucky, Tennessee and northern Alabama, gather some of the largest populations of hibernating bats in the world. And these bats have been tracked flying hundreds of miles from their home caves. They could potentially come into contact with and infect or be infected by any number of other species of bats and the as yet incurable disease could be unstoppable.
"If this continues to spread, we are talking about extinctions," said Thomas Kunz, an ecologist and bat expert at Boston University. "I've studied bats for 44 years. This is unprecedented in my lifetime. It's not alarmist. These are just the facts."
Bats, like the disappearing honeybees and frogs, play a critical role in the delicate balance of nature. A single bat will eat 50 to 100 percent of its body weight in insects in a single night. Kunz conservatively calculates that the million bats that have died would have consumed about 694 tons of insects in one year: the equivalent weight of about 11 Abrams M1 tanks.
"You take these bats away, there are a lot of unknowns," Kunz said. "What are these insects going to do that aren't being eaten? They can cause serious damage to crops, gardens and forests, further upsetting both the natural and human-altered ecosystems."
In one study of eight Texas counties, Kunz said, researchers found that if bats disappeared, farmers would have to spend as much as $1.2 million more on pesticides each year. That means more-expensive food, more chemicals in the food supply and the environment, and who knows what other cascading effects on the animals that depend on bats as a source of food or their guano for nutrition. "Eventually, there's a threshold that's going to be reached," Kunz said. "That's not going to recover."
White nose syndrome does not appear to affect humans. That's a blessing and a curse, Kunz said. "There's been little attention and little sense of urgency about this," he said. "Most of us are doing this research on a shoestring."
Because the fungus appears to have leapfrogged this year from caves in the Northeast to Virginia and West Virginia, in caves better known for their popularity among recreational cavers than for big bat populations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently issued an advisory closing all caves in 17 states adjacent to the outbreak. No one knows how the disease is spreading -- whether bats are infecting other bats or humans are tracking the fungus into caves on their shoes, scientific survey gear or caving equipment, or some combination of the two. But officials say they want to err on the side of caution. "We're under no delusions that this is going to stop the spread of the disease," said Diana Weaver, a spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service. "We're just hoping to slow it down enough for science to catch up and find some answers."
Later, an hour away, out in Bath County, in the Allegheny Mountains near the West Virginia line, Reynolds met with Rick Lambert of the Virginia Speleological Survey, who has been volunteering to check some of Virginia's 4,500 caves for the fungus. They donned caving gear that had been exposed to the fungus, crammed on helmets and headlamps, and crawled on their bellies through a narrow passage in Breathing Cave to reach a colony of hibernating little brown bats, one of the six bat species that have been found with the fungus.
Their headlamps drew arcs of light on the limestone walls as they surveyed clusters of bats with white fungus around their noses and along their wings. The fungus is little more than a skin irritant, they explain, much like athlete's foot. Scientists aren't sure how it's killing the bats.
The best hypothesis is that the fungus is somehow disturbing the bats, causing them to wake more often than usual. Each time they wake, they use 60 days of the fat reserves they need to make it through the winter. They might be waking up so often that they use up their fat stores and starve to death. That's why infected bats are seen in the daylight, emaciated and searching for food they won't find in the middle of winter. As the two men whispered, some of the fungus-covered bats stirred. Reynolds shook his head. "Nobody expected anything like this."
The two made their counts and took their leave.
"I'd like to give some advice to the southern states," Reynolds said. To him, the spread of the deadly fungus is only a matter of time. "I just don't know what that would be."
He trudged slowly in darkness, up to his waist in dried leaves, toward the weak daylight breaking through the mouth of the cave.
Full article at <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2009/04/10/ST2009041003644.html?sid=ST2009041003644>
We would like to invite you to the 19th annual Heartwood Forest Council, to be held Memorial Day weekend, May 22-25, 2009, at Camp McKee near the Red River Gorge in Appalachian Kentucky. The theme of this year's Forest Council is Defending the Earth, Sustaining Ourselves.
As you may know, we had originally planned to hold this year’s Forest Council at Camp Blanton near Harlan KY, in conjunction with Mountain Justice Summer which was to have been held at the same location the week before, but learned that coal interests in Harlan persuaded the Camp management to void our agreement. You can read more about what happened in the Lexington Herald-Leader here andhere . But our new site, Camp McKee, is a great location just seven miles south of Mt. Sterling, with over 800 acres of forests and trails, a large lake, and sits adjacent to Pilot Knob State Nature Preserveand just a stone’s throw from the beautiful and unique Red River Gorge.
What is the Heartwood Forest Council?
The Heartwood Forest Council is the largest annual gathering of citizens from across the Eastern, Midwestern, and Southern United States who care about the health and well-being of our nation's forests. This will be the fourth time this event has taken place in Kentucky, the first being at Cathedral Domain in 1993. We will focus on threats to our region and to human and community health, in an atmosphere of collaboration designed to form stronger personal and organizational connections. While addressing the issues we face and celebrating the work that we do, the Forest Council also offers participants an opportunity to identify lasting solutions and proven action steps that will move us as a community toward a shared vision of a healthy, just, and sustainable society.
This year's Forest Council will explore the whole cycle of coal from extraction, processing and transport to combustion and disposal of wastes. We will look at the health and well being of our region's forests and waters, and address a new host of threats - from global warming to the proliferation of biomass combustion plants and agrofuels which convert forests and food into electric power and fuel.
Equally important, we will address how we can sustain ourselves and each other in this time of great challenges and threats to the planet we call home. Together we will identify ways to reduce stress and increase a sense of personal well-being in a life of activism. We will share knowledge about how to work together to protect our neighborhoods, our communities, and our planet.
The Forest Council will begin the afternoon of Friday, May 22, and continue through mid-day, Monday, May 25 (Memorial Day). The program will consist of three days of workshops, discussions, keynote speakers, and field trips -- interspersed with ample social time, leisure, lively local music, dancing and great food (sourced locally and from organic sources to the greatest extent possible, and lovingly prepared). The Forest Council will be family friendly - kids of all ages are encouraged to attend.
This year’s Heartwood Forest Council will immediately follow the week-long Mountain Justice Summer Camp, now being held at the Appalachian South Folklife Center in Pipestem, West Virginia. We encourage you to attend Mountain Justice Summer Camp and to participate in the hands on education and training aimed at forever ending the tragedy of mountaintop removal coal mining, and to then join Heartwood for the culmination of a truly inspiring and transformative week in Central Appalachia.
To find out more information about the Forest Council, including registration, speakers, event schedule, and more, visit the Heartwood website over the coming weeks.
What is Heartwood?
Heartwood is a cooperative network of grassroots groups, individuals, and local businesses working to protect and sustain healthy forests and vital human communities in the nation's heartland, from the foothills of the Appalachians to the river valleys of the Great Plains, and from the Great Lakes to the Deep South. Heartwood has a nearly twenty year track record of bringing people together to share information, coordinate efforts and devise a common approach -- not just to the challenges we face but perhaps more importantly to the positive future that inspires the work we do.
Cosponsor the Forest Council!
We invite you to become a cosponsor of the 2009 Heartwood Forest Council. Funds raised will be used to underwrite the event and make it affordable for those who might otherwise be unable to attend.
As a cosponsor, you or your organization or business will be listed in all applicable promotional materials and have the option of setting up a display table with merchandise and information at the event. Cosponsors may choose to remain anonymous. Cosponsorship also entitles you to a one-year organizational membership in Heartwood with full member benefits.
For groups and organizations, we offer the following general guidelines based on annual budget:
Suggested donation Annual budget
$35 under $25,000
$75 $25K - $100K
$150 $100K - $250K
$300 $250K - $500K
$600 $500K - $2million
$1,200 $2 million or over
To cosponsor, make checks payable to Heartwood, and send to: Heartwood Forest Council, PO Box 1011, Alton, IL 62002-1011. Please make sure to include your name and contact information, and that your donation is intended for the Forest Council.
For more information, please contact:
Jim Scheff, Coordinator
Welcome to our new website! This is definitely a work in progress, but we hope that it will help you to learn about and connect with Kentucky Heartwood, and to stay up to date on our efforts. Please feel free to offer any suggestions to make our site better by using our contact form here.