PROTESTING THE PROSECUTION
Holy Land 5
FROM THE WEB
Net Briefs - 07-09
Nicolas J.S. Davies
Big Brother AT&T
Courts & Education
Socialists or Satanists?
Target Planned Parenthood
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
A Jewish Anarchist
Tyranny of Oil
OFF THE TABLE
Z PAPERS ON VISION & STRATEGY
Z PAPERS ON VISION & STRATEGY
Gabriel matthew Schivone
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Confronting Coal Power
Days after it was announced that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had no concerns with 42 out of 48 new permits for mountaintop removal mining sites and was passing them on to the Army Corps of Engineers for final approval, several environmental activists with Mountain Justice and Climate Ground Zero as well as local protesters took part in a series of civil disobedience actions across Coal River Valley, West Virginia. The May 23 actions were aimed at mining companies engaging in mountaintop removal and coal power in general. Over 80 participated and 17 (the "Coal River 17") were arrested.
At a Patriot Coal mine on Kayford Mountain, near Cabin Creek, West Virginia, six activists locked themselves to a large mining dump truck and unfurled a banner reading "Never Again." State police arrested them and two other activists supporting them at the site.
In another action, two activists wearing hazmat suits and respirators boated on the seven-billion gallon Brushy Fork coal slurry dam, which is part of Massey Energy subsidiary Marfork Coal's mining facility near Pettus, West Virginia. They floated a banner reading "West Virginia Says No More Toxic Sludge." The two were arrested by state police and charged with littering (on a toxic coal sludge lake) and misdemeanor trespassing.
Some hours later, over 75 people picketed the dam facility, including former Congressperson Ken Hechler. Protestors laid out shoes representing the number of deaths should the dam fail. Seven were arrested when they approached the facility's entrance and refused to leave.
The actions followed several others this year. On February 3, five activists were arrested after locking themselves to an excavator at a Massey Energy mountaintop removal site in Raleigh County, West Virginia, with banners reading "Save Coal River Mountain" and "Wind Mills Not Toxic Spills." Eight more were arrested later that day for trespassing while attempting to deliver a letter asking Massey Energy to cease mountaintop removal operations in Coal River Mountain. On March 14, dozens of activists protested at the headquarters of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which owns and operates the Kingston Fossil Plant, where a huge coal fly ash slurry spill took place in December 2008; 14 demonstrators took part in a "die-in" and were arrested for blocking the sidewalk.
Deforestation, Toxic Flooding, and Carbon Dioxide Emissions
These civil disobedience actions at different types of facilities highlight the ecological destruction of coal power in all its stages. Mountaintop removal is a form of surface mining most commonly used in the Appalachian Mountains. Mountains are deforested and the topsoil left from the deforestation is removed. Explosives blast away the overburden that is left over, or the subsoil and rock, to nearby valleys or hollows ("valley fills") to expose the coal, which is then removed by dragline excavators. Although flattened mountains are supposed to be reclaimed with their own or other topsoil, coal companies are often granted waivers and are allowed to reclaim the land with "topsoil substitutes."
Kayford Mountain is one of the most famous examples of mountaintop removal destruction. Over 12,000 acres of Kayford Mountain have been destroyed since mining began in 1986. According to an October 2005 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report, at current rates and with no new restrictions, 2,200 square miles, or 1.4 million acres, of Appalachian forests will be cleared by 2012. The same report states that over 400,000 acres of forest were cut and 724 miles of streams in central Appalachia were buried by valley fills between 1985 and 2001. According to a December 3, 2008 Washington Post article, the federal government now estimates that 1,600 miles of streams in central Appalachia have been buried by valley fills since the mid-1980s.
The ecological destruction of coal power does not stop there. After mining, the coal is then processed, often in on-site processing plants, after which millions of gallons of by-product known as coal sludge or slurry are stored in open-air pools, which are separated from waterways by earthen dams, so that usable coal particles fall to the bottom. If these dams fail, coal sludge floods local areas, threatening residents, infrastructure, flora and fauna.
May 23 protest in Coal River Valley, West Virginia; shoes represent the 998 estimated immediate death toll should the coal sludge dam fail—photo by Chris Irwin
The Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment is one such open-air pool. Massey Energy's own filings with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) project a death toll of 998 and floodwaters of 38 feet in the town of Peytona, 26 miles downstream, if the dam breaks. The company plans to blast 100 feet away from the impoundment and has already received blasting permits from the state DEP.
Such coal sludge impoundments have a long history of failures with terrible consequences. On October 21, 1966, a coal sludge impoundment in Aberfan, Wales failed, burying Pantglas Junior School, killing 144 people, 116 of them children. In the Buffalo Creek Flood, the Pittston Coal Company's coal slurry impoundment Dam 3 in Logan County, West Virginia burst on February 26, 1972, 4 days after having been declared "satisfactory" by a federal mine inspector. The ensuing flood overwhelmed Dams 1 and 2 and released 132 million gallons of black waste water, cresting over 30 feet high, on 18 coal mining hamlets, killing 125, injuring 1,121, and leaving over 4,000 homeless out of a population of 5,000.
In the Martin County Sludge Spill, the bottom of a Massey Energy coal sludge impoundment in Martin County, Kentucky broke on October 11, 2000 into an abandoned underground mine, where the slurry came out of the mine openings, releasing approximately 306 million gallons of sludge down two Tug Fork River tributaries, Wolf Creek and Coldwater Fork, killing all of their aquatic life. The spill contaminated the water supply for over 27,000 residents, polluting the Big Sandy River, its tributaries, and the Ohio River.
By far the largest coal sludge impoundment failure and the largest fly ash release in U.S. history was the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal fly ash spill in Roane County, Tennessee on December 22, 2008, where an ash dike ruptured, releasing 1.1 billion gallons of coal fly ash (coal residue that contains a significant amount of carcinogens, according to the EPA) slurry, a volume 50 times larger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, into 300 acres of surrounding land and traveled up and down the Emory and Clinch Rivers.
After processing, coal is burned in fossil fuel power plants to produce electricity, emitting millions of tons of carbon dioxide per year, a pollutant that is the biggest cause of global warming, according to the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as well as emitting nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter. According to the American Lung Association, 24,000 people a year in the U.S. die prematurely due to pollution from coal-fired power plants. The flue gas that exits to the atmosphere through a duct, pipe, or chimney, also includes fly ash and mercury. Coal-fired power plants, even the ones using the latest technology, are the dirtiest and most inefficient power plants, more so than power plants based on other fossil fuels such as petroleum or natural gas, which release half as much carbon dioxide as coal.
The coal industry has been marketing itself with a "greenwashing" campaign where they have tried to justify building dozens of new coal power plants by claiming they can be potentially "clean" in the future. "Clean coal" technology, however, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) or carbon sequestration, which would theoretically reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 90 percent, currently exists only in a few demonstration projects. The technology is unproven and very expensive and most of the investment towards it has come not from industry, but from government subsidies, such as the $3.4 billion for CCS technology from the federal government as part of the recent stimulus bill.
Phasing out Coal Power
Since mountaintop removal mining has, in part, allowed coal to remain the cheapest source of energy, any move to ban it will be opposed by both the coal mining lobby and the utilities lobby. A better solution is a comprehensive coal phase-out, preventing the construction of new coal-fired power plants and decommissioning the approximately 600 existing coal-fired power plants, reducing not only carbon dioxide emissions, but also the demand for coal. Already, countries such as Germany and provinces such as Ontario, Canada have committed to phasing out coal by 2018 and 2014, respectively—gradually replacing it with renewable energy.
The struggle to ban mountaintop removal mining has been directed at both government agencies that regulate it as well as private sector companies that are involved directly, such as mining companies, or indirectly through the financing of it. As the president is the one who designates the EPA administrator and appoints the Interior Secretary, and affects environmental policy in other ways, environmentalists have been paying attention to Obama's positions and policies. During the 2008 presidential campaign, both Obama and McCain vowed to end mountaintop removal.
On March 24, Lisa P. Jackson, the EPA's administrator designated by Obama in December 2008, announced that the agency was planning a closer review of about 200 mountaintop removal mining permit applications, due to concerns about potential harm to water quality. She sent two letters to the Army Corps of Engineers that recommended denying a permit application for the site near Ethel, West Virginia, and urging that a Pike County, Kentucky application be revised to ensure the protection of streams. The same day, however, the EPA said it thought that most permit applications would not raise "environmental concerns" and, in April, Jackson said that the EPA was not trying to stop mountaintop removal mining.
On April 27, Obama appointee Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said that he was taking steps to restore the "stream buffer rule," which states that mountaintop removal mining companies cannot deposit debris within 100 feet of a stream and which had been reversed in December 2008 by the Bush administration. However, just a few days before the civil disobedience actions, Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and a supporter of mountaintop removal, announced that the EPA had raised environmental concerns on only 6 of the 48 new Clean Water Act permits for mountaintop removal sites, in effect giving the Army Corps of Engineers the green light to grant the 42 other new applications.
Students from James Madison University show the effects of Bank of America's investments at the decimated Kayford Mountain—photo by Matt Noerpel, www.crmw.net
While several organizations have lobbied congress and petitioned for the EPA to deny mountaintop removal permit applications or to ban it altogether—and others like the Coal River 17 have targeted the mining companies themselves—groups like the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Rising Tide North America (RTNA) have targeted the coal industry's financiers. According to RAN's report "Banks, Climate Change, & the New Coal Rush," Citi (formerly Citigroup) is the leading financier of the coal industry, followed by Bank of America (BofA). Both have financed Massey Energy, Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources, and others corporations, as well as American Electric Power, Dynegy, and other utilities that own, operate, and plan to build dozens more coal-fired power plants. Both have also financed Peabody Energy that is the world's largest private-sector coal mining company and has, among other things, devastated the Black Mesa ecosystem and the Dine (Navajo) and Hopi communities' water supply through its Black Mesa coal mine. On November 14-15, 2008, RAN, RTNA, and Greenpeace organized a National Day of Action against Citi and BofA for their financing of coal. Hundreds of activists in over 50 U.S. cities protested and engaged in nonviolent direct actions against these banks' offices. On December 3, BofA announced that it would phase out financing for companies engaging in mountaintop removal mining, though it still finances coal power utilities.
While the Coal River 17 focused on companies involved in mountaintop removal mining, which is largely centered in Appalachia, the struggle against coal is an international one. Despite at times fighting for local or national-level objectives, this will require solidarity across borders with miners, affected communities, activists, and many others.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.