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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PETTUS, WVa—After blocking Massey Energy’s operations on the Bee Tree Permit for nine days, Amber Nitchman, 19, and Eric Blevins, 28 descended from their respective trees. They had occupied the two oak trees—originally accompanied by a third tree sitter, David Aaron Smith, 23—to protest mountaintop removal and the blasting of Coal River Mountain. Upon descent, they were immediately arrested by West Virginia State Troopers. The sitters’ decision to leave the trees was made in light of the recent drop in temperature.
After a week of Massey security harassing the sitters with deafening sirens and air horns, a call-in pressure campaign was launched by Climate Ground Zero, Mountain Justice and other anti-mountaintop removal groups. The receipt of hundreds of calls from around the country led to an emergency meeting with Climate Ground Zero volunteers, the Raleigh County prosecutor and Governor Manchin. The meeting resulted in the moratorium and a call for an investigation of the abuse.
The tree sit represents Climate Ground Zero’s most sustained intervention in mountaintop removal mining operations since its campaign of nonviolent direct action began last February. Volunteers know that the fight is far from over and expect work to commence on the Bee Tree site immediately. However, they see this tree sit as a victory. “It halted blasting for nine days. I think they’ve wildly succeeded with their goals,” said Climate Ground Zero volunteer Mike Bowersox. In a final communication from her perch, Nitchman captured the group’s resolve. “Its not over until the blasting is stopped,” she said.
photos and more available at www.climategroundzero.net