Corporate python Massey Energy has filed suit against the latest sign-wielding human to bring its destructive mountaintop removal mining practices to a halt. From the AP, reporting in Morgantown, West Virginia:
Massey did not immediately comment on its cases Wednesday, but court filings suggest the protesters are having a measurable, if minor, impact on the bottom line: In one lawsuit, Massey claims a single action – the 3 1/2-hour occupation of a dragline at Progress Coal’s Twilight mine June 18 – cost the company $300,000.
The protesters are mainly affiliated with Climate Ground Zero, based in Rock Creek.
The most recent lawsuit targets two people who brought blasting to a halt in August by spending six days in treetop platforms at Massey’s Edwight mine in Raleigh County, as well as two ground-support people.
“Defendants have no defense,” the lawsuit argues. “They have announced to whoever will listen that they are trespassing and will continue to trespass.”
Alas, hanging out in trees and screaming Thoreau at rent-a-cops and blue-collar dynamite men is, apparently, not only vile enough to charge the offending protester, Greg Collins, with $3,000 in fines and court costs, but to also order him — along with five other protesters on the receiving end of Massey’s legal effrontery — to pay his share of $19,000 in “attorney fees” to the company. Because, you know, it’s hard out there for a massive, multi-billion dollar energy conglomerate.
Oh, and one more thing: I noticed that the AP’s description of the scientifically verified destruction caused by mountaintop removal mining was defined solely in terms of the views held by “opponents” of the practice.
Mountaintop mining is a highly efficient but destructive practice that involves blasting away ridge tops to expose multiple coal seams. Massey, which operates mines in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia, contends it’s the only way to reach some of the coal it wants. Opponents say it forever disfigures the land, damages the environment and causes physical harm and property damage to people who live near the sites.
Not only do “opponents” say this, but so do scientists, authors and journalists who’ve observed the effects firsthand. By relegating the clear cut facts to the realm of mere opinion, the AP engenders a meme of false equivalency where none exists, allowing mountaintop removal mining supporters a forum with which to debate data that is already decidedly stacked against them. Just saying.
Meanwhile, in our neck of the barren, coal-ash-tainted woods, Frankfort’s House Natural Resources & Environment committee is poised to view, yet again, the so-called “Stream Saver Bill” next year. In effect, the bill would curb the deletorious stream run-off generated by MTR operations, primarily in the rural Appalachian borderzones in Eastern Kentucky. Of course, if a few protestors aren’t small enough to evade Massey’s radar, what’s a few members of the Kentucky House of Represenatives?