Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Stand with me for Appalachia

I'm writing to you as a volunteer and donor for the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation. My personal experience with the atrocities of surface mining strengthened my commitment to the organization. Everyone that wants to fight the injustices being committed in the name of profit should join me in becoming an active donor:

Your donations will help cover the cost of our On The Road Again Program. Larry, myself, and many other coalfield residents will travel the country in 2011 to educate others about the process known as mountain top removal and also what actions they can take to end this practice.

As a West Virginia native and a resident of the coalfields for most of my life, I know first-hand the detrimental effects the coal industry has had on our communities and our environment. Both of my grandfathers were coal miners, and both died from complications of black lung. I am not against coal miners but I am against big corporations that come into our state, exploit our people, destroy our environment, then leave with profits without being held accountable for the mess they leave behind.

In the early 2000's I experienced that destruction first hand. Blasting on a mountaintop removal coal mine began within a quarter-mile of my home. The noise was constant and everything was covered in dust all the time. My house would shake, knocking pictures from the walls, and rocks would fly into the yard where my children played. In 2005, while deployed with the military, I received a call from my father saying my house was off of its foundation and that the foundation was severely damaged.

Before all this happened we didn't like mountaintop removal but it was just something we accepted as part of living in WV. After the coal company blatantly denied responsibility for the destruction of my home, I began to realize, "This is what is happening to all my family and neighbors, and it's not right."

So I made a choice to actively fight the process, and quickly joined the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation. Mr. Larry Gibson has been an inspiration to me, and this organization is an integral part of ending mountaintop removal. I support it not only with my time but by being an active donor, and I hope you will join me:

Thanks for standing with us!


Marilyn Mullens

Keeper of the Mountains Foundation Volunteer

P.S. If you can't donate, but you do use Facebook, please set up a Holiday Wish to help fund our work.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Connecting the Dots in Ecuador

"All the companies gave us was contamination, sickness, and death. Strange diseases that we never knew before. People are dying of cancer and that's why the Cofan People are continuing to fight against Chevron in this lawsuit."

- Cofan Leader

"Keeper of the Mountains" Larry Gibson and Board Member Bill DePaulo are currently in their Third Day of traveling through Ecuador. They are traveling with Amazon Watch to lean from, educate, and connect with community leaders who are fighting for justice in their communities, much as we are in ours. Indigenous Nations in the Ecuadorian Rain Forest have been poisoned by the massive oil drilling operations that Texaco, now Chevron, undertook to profit from their people.

Bill DePaulo is writing of his and Larry's time in Ecuador and had this to say,

"Day 1 was primarily in Quito and no one could describe it as strenuous. common if interesting tourist stuff in many respects But distinguished by the fact that Ecuador has taken extraordinary steps at preservation of it's cultural and architectural heritage

Second day we flew over the Andes to Lagos Agrio, the town Texaco built in the jingle out of nothing for oil exploration. Plus we went to Texacos first drill sites.

Later in the day we crossed Rio Aqua Rico to meet with leaders of the small indigenous group Cofan who are plaintiffs in the multiple billion dollar lawsuit against Chevron/Texaco over oil spills at more than 900 pits they created at 350 drill sites from 1964 to 1990.

The leader who spoke to us lost two small children after they drank water from local streams polluted by Texaco.

Today we went to one of the more dramatic open pit sites that shows the grossly negligent manner in which Texaco operated. Dumping raw waste water from drill sites into open pits designed too overflow into fresh water streams and pollute the water table, animal and fish life.

We are headed to a local clinic that treats victims, young and old, of oil pollution

Tomorrow we go to the Yasuni National Forest, one of the biologically diverse sites on earth, threatened by oil exploration."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Don Blankenship is DONE

From his start with A.T. Massey Coal, Don Blankenship has been breaking the union and poisoning peoples' water.  Through the years he has been the face of the coal industry and political corruption in West Virginia.  His coal company has been the culprit of everything from disregarding worker safety to destroying our mountains to poisoning our people.  He has been the visible head of corporate greed in our state for far too long, and now he's done.

Don Blankenship will retire on December 30th, 2010.  In the same year that the people of West Virginia have won a new Marsh Fork Elementary and are winning regulation of the coal industry - we will see the retirement of the most visible coal baron in the state.  He has surrendered to angry workers and residents and is leaving his seat in the company. 

We must remember, that as bad as Don Blankenship is, the problem is deeper than any one man.  We will start 2011 another step ahead of where we started 2010, but we will still have mountains being stripped, communities with poisoned water, workers working in unsafe conditions and a need for coalfield communities to decide our own future.  We will start 2011 with another victory under our belts, and with a need to keep fighting the coal industry for justice.  We must keep growing and we must continue gaining power.

Be proud and celebrate, but for heaven's sake, keep organizing.  Please donate to keep us organizing and winning victories like this.