This news story originally provided by
October 20, 2005
Protesters rally at candlelight vigil
By KRISTINA MURRILL
Local residents and activists gathered Wednesday night to shed
some light on the concerns of mountaintop removal.
Members of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Mountain Justice
Summer and MUPeace met on Third Avenue in front of the Holiday Inn
at 7 p.m. for a candlelight vigil for the mountains.
The vigil was part of a three-part series taking place this week to
raise awareness of the dangers caused by coal sludge impoundments
and mountaintop removal in the state.
William Dodson, an organizer of the event, said the location was
chosen because of a coal expo the coal industry is having at the Big
Sandy Superstore Arena. He said one of the goals of the event is to
heighten the community's understanding of the subject.
"Our goal is to raise awareness in the Huntington community," Dodson
said. "An event like this is outreach for future events and for
people who need to know about mountaintop removal. My personal
biggest goal is to let Joe Manchin know that we're not going away."
Janet Keating, co-director of OVEC, said she wants everyone to be
informed of the dangers surrounding mountaintop mining.
"It's a rare opportunity to get our message out directly to the
folks in the coal industry," she said. "We want to make sure they
understand that their practices, especially around coal
impoundments, are really endangering communities and peoples' lives
and public safety, and we're incredibly concerned about that."
Keating said while she was pleased with the support they were
getting from the community, many still do not know much about the
"It's wonderful to see all the student support from Marshall
University today and also the folks from Mountain Justice Summer who
organized this," she said. "I think OVEC is doing a pretty good job
these days, trying to get the word out and so we're doing what we
can to make sure the people of West Virginia are waking up to the
issues of mountaintop removal. It's not just destroying mountains.
Entire communities are disappearing."
Ronda Harper, an OVEC member, said her family has been affected and
torn apart by mountaintop removal in her area.
"The property is where my mother, my grandmother, all my uncles
played when they were children," she said. "It's been there for
almost 100 years and we hate to see all that filled in. It's almost
the end of the world for the people who live in Mud River."
Chris Worth, a Marshall student pursuing his master's degree in
painting, said it upsets him that large coal industries are still
being encouraged in the state.
"It amazes me that people still support a conglomerate like the coal
king who doesn't really care about the people they've been raping,"
he said. "I use a word like rape because it is. They're not only
extracting huge amounts of coal, but soul."
From 3:30 to 5 p.m. today, participants will march from Pullman
Square to the Big Sandy Arena, then to the Army Corps of Engineers,
which issues permits for mountaintop removal and coal sludge
More information on the groups' efforts can be found at
www.mountainjusticesummer.org or www.ohvec.org.