Webster County, WV — Early Friday morning 11/3/23, pipeline fighter Jerome locked himself to a Mountain Valley Pipeline drill at the Elk River crossing in Webster County, WV. Jerome prevented construction for over 3 hours, at which time he was extracted by law enforcement and arrested. He was charged with 4 misdemeanors, and has been released from jail. A banner at the site of Jerome's blockade read "Doom to the pipeline!" "I am the father of 3 daughters and the grandfather—soon—of 5 grandsons," Jerome stated. "I am horrified by what climate change is already doing to all life here on Earth. And I'm even more horrified that we still envision and construct projects like MVP which will only worsen the warming and deepen the chaos.
In rural West Virginia, largely hidden among steep hills, stands a $255 million facility designed to transform fracking waste into freshwater and food grade quality salts. Proponents hailed it as one of the most important environmental projects undertaken by the oil and gas industry in recent U.S. history. But local conservation groups and residents remained skeptical from the start, warning that the plant could leak toxic waste into water and air, harming human health and ecosystems in a largely forested region where tight-knit communities live close to the land. The facility, called Clearwater, was built by the Denver, Colorado-based oil and gas extraction company, Antero Resources, and an affiliate of Veolia, the multinational French waste, water and energy management company.
On Monday, August 21, hundreds of students at West Virginia University, the state’s flagship land-grant institution, walked out of their classrooms to protest the massive gutting of their university by its administration. Students wore red T-shirts and red bandanas around their necks, carried homemade signs with messages like “Stop the Gee-llotine” (a reference to WVU President E. Gordon Gee), played protest songs on fiddles and guitars, chanted “STOP THE CUTS!” and shouted impassioned speeches into megaphones. At issue was the administration’s proposal to fire 16 percent of the faculty and cut 9 percent of its undergraduate majors and twenty graduate programs in response to a projected $45 million shortfall over the next two years.
Summers County, WV — Six pipeline fighters took action and put their bodies on the line today at Mountain Valley Pipeline's construction site at the Greenbrier River crossing. They made it clear they will not stand down while the world faces the imminent threat of environmental catastrophe. Four were part of the self-proclaimed "Rocking Chair Rebellion," a contingent of elder protesters in rocking chairs blocking an MVP access road, with their legs locked into concrete barrels. Two more locked themselves to the drill that MVP will use to drill under the river. Nearby, a rally of over a dozen people gathered to show support for the protest.
West Virginia - At 9:00 A.M. sharp on August 10, a small phalanx of smiling, well-coiffed elderly women began herding a crowd of several dozen people into the auditorium of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, West Virginia. Among the crowd were former coal miners and their spouses, lawyers, pulmonologists, black lung clinic staff, environmental activists, local media, union representatives, and concerned citizens — all there to attend a public hearing for a new proposed rule from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) that seeks to limit silica exposure in the nation’s coal mines to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, down from 100.
Morgantown, West Virginia - West Virginia University students staged a walkout Monday to protest the proposed elimination of academic programs and show support for faculty and staff whose jobs are being targeted as the university addresses a $45 million budget shortfall. Separate midday rallies were organized by the West Virginia United Students' Union, which encouraged protesters to wear red. Organizers said they want to halt the university's planned reductions, seek an independent audit of its finances and reduced WVU's administrative spending.
Beckley, West Virginia - Nearly 100 prison abolitionists and family members of jailhouse murder victims rallied in Beckley on July 15 to raise awareness of the growing number of deaths in jails throughout West Virginia. In the last couple of years, the deaths have become epidemic, with dozens of incarcerated workers murdered at the hands of guards throughout the state. Appropriately dubbed “Handcuffs Shouldn’t Kill You,” the event was organized by the West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign and co-sponsored by the West Virginia American Civil Liberties Union and the Beckley chapter of the NAACP. Community and union activists from the area attended.
Under a sky spitting freezing rain with a cold whipping wind, Kimberly Burks, the mother of Quantez Burks, helped assemble the 150 marchers and stepped us off from the home of Quantez Burks at noon. We marched through the neighborhood and out to well-travelled thoroughfares and around the Beckley Police Station. We then lined a block of the main street through town holding and waving signs, some folks crying, others remembered the two men and the shock of their deaths. Josh Eagle, a friend of Burks, held a sign that read: “What if Quan was your son? Brother? Father? Husband? Friend? Uncle? We want answers. We demand justice.”
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a rule that limits the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gasses from the power sector using a specific provision of the Clean Air Act. Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that existing and planned fossil fuel projects are more than the climate can handle, confirming that without sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use, we are, as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says, “on a fast track to climate disaster.” The report also warns investors of stranded fossil fuel assets that will amount to $4 trillion in a world where warming is limited to 2°C, and even more in a world where it is limited to 1.5°C.
Monroe County, WV - The Walk for Appalachia’s Future, a multi-day event amplifying the Appalachian region’s fights for environmental justice and renewable energy, launched on Tuesday, May 24 in Ireland, WV and continues through June 4, where the final event will be a youth-led rally in Richmond, VA. The Walk is bringing together community members and allies to highlight environmental damages caused by the fossil fuel industry, and the need to cancel the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The Tuesday, May 24 program featured an event in Ireland, WV with a photography exhibition and a guest speaker, Rose DeProspero, who shared testimony and images of the sedimentation from the Mountain Valley Pipeline occurring at her home.
Roughly eight years ago, Maury Johnson was tending to the work of maintaining his homestead and serving his community in a variety of ways. Then, a letter from the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) arrived, telling him they’d like to survey his land. He agreed, so long as he could go along. It was during that process that Johnson went from a welcoming landowner to a relentless opponent of the MVP. The dangers it posed to life, land and liberty were more than Johnson could stand. So, individually, and through numerous community organizations committed to preserving the ecology of Monroe County and communities all along the MVP route, Johnson has been helping lead the charge against the MVP as a fierce friend of Mother Earth.
Grant Town, WV, Monday April 11– Sixteen activists who were arrested on Saturday for blockading the coal-fired Grant Town Power Plant that burns coal waste to profit US Senator Joe Manchin were released from jail overnight. On Sunday, activists returned to the plant for a Palm Sunday service to continue their call for Manchin to stop blocking passage of the federal Build Back Better bill. On Saturday, hundreds of West Virginia residents and climate change activists protested outside of the plant for several hours on Saturday to bring light to the fact that not only has Manchin been stalling efforts to address climate change, but he is also personally benefiting from the continuation of fossil fuels that are creating climate chaos in US communities– including the ones he represents.
Organizers of the "Coal Baron Blockade" protest which targeted right-wing Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's coal empire Saturday afternoon reported that state police almost immediately began arresting campaigners who assembled in Grant Town, West Virginia. Hundreds of campaigners participated in the blockade of Grant Town Power Plant, which receives coal waste from Enersystems, the company owned by the West Virginia senator's son. Manchin earns $500,000 per year from Enersystems—"making a very lucrative living off the backs of West Virginians," said Maria Gunnoe, an organizer of the action, this week.
The Green New Deal proposal is one of the only effective, broadly recognized pathways to tackle the climate crisis and address its social and economic consequences. It is technologically possible and economically sustainable. Yet although the Green New Deal project is already under way in some shape or form in various states, it has yet to be scaled up to the national level. In fact, climate policy as a whole has been stalled in Congress, and the Biden administration has so far engaged more in symbolic gestures than in living policy processes. With time quickly running out to prevent a greenhouse apocalypse, activists need to reorganize and unite efforts to build massive public support and political will for climate action.
Despite the political successes of the “Fight For $15” movement, actual unionized fast food restaurants are rare. Burgerville workers in Portland, Oregon recently reached an agreement on a union contract after a years-long effort, and Starbucks workers in Buffalo and elsewhere have scheduled union elections at a number of stores. Now, 25 employees of a Tudor’s in tiny Elkview, West Virginia are joining them in the vanguard of fast food organizing by seeking to unionize with UFCW Local 400. Yesterday, they filed for a union election with the NLRB.