Coal River Mountain Treesitter Pens Letter from Jail
The following is from Eric Blevins, one of the recent Coal River Mountain treesitters. His hearing is currently scheduled for Feb. 23.
I wrote this letter to the editor to the Beckley paper while in jail and told it to someone over the phone who sent it to them for me. They didn’t print it in their next issue and I doubt they printed it after that, but I thought you might like to read it:
This is in response to the article in Saturday’s paper about Amber and I coming down from our tree sit and the letter about paid, outsider environmentalists who support the EPA, which I read while sitting in the Southern Regional Jail.
I am not an outsider. I am an Appalachian. Virginia-based Massey Energy is an outsider. The people who live in the mountains and work on the mine sites work harder, longer hours and make less money than those who work at Massey’s headquarters in Richmond. All the people here should control how the land around them is used and they should profit the most from it, not people in an office far away who aren’t as impacted by the decisions they make that destroy our mountains.
I and most activists I know are not paid. We are volunteers. Groups like Mountain Justice and Climate Ground Zero help raise funds for legal fees and action supplies, but don’t pay people. Their money is donated by people who support the abolishment of mountaintop removal. They have budgets of just a few thousand dollars each. Massey has billions of dollars. They recently laid off workers and raised CEO Don Blankenship’s salary.
I and most activists I know do not support the EPA. They are not doing enough to stop the destruction of our mountains. While they review permits, the explosions are still going off in our home every day.
I climbed a tree to defend God’s beautiful divine creations: the people who live below the Brushy Fork sludge impoundment being threatened with imminent death by the blasting, the plants and animals being slaughtered, Coal River Mountain, our air and our water. The actions of my friends and I were nonviolent and defensive. Massey’s actions are violent and offensive. They blasted air horns and sirens at us in the trees almost nonstop for days on end. They have said that 998 people will die if the dam there fails, yet they set off explosives near it. It is an unlined earthen dam and those fail, like the one operated by TVA near my home in Tennessee that spilled 1.6 billion gallons of coal waste just over a year ago, practically destroying an entire community. Brush Fork holds back over 7 billion gallons, for now. It may not hold it back much longer if we don’t stop the blasting.