On the 9th of September, the Alliance for Appalachia delivered a very bad report card (mostly incompletes and an F-) to Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality for five years of broken promises on protecting people from water being poisoned by mountaintop removal coal mining. While a traditional square dance provided support several people blocked the steps in a civil disobedience.
Square dancers support a blockade of Obama’s “Council on Environmental Quality”
Appalachia Water relief bucket brigade
Obama’s report card on protecting Appalachia residents, water, and mountains from MTR mining
During the first part of the civil disobedience the CD team blocked the sidewalk while a bucket brigade moved water from a fountain to a “Clean water for Appalachia” barrel. When police did nothing the civil disobedience crew escalated my moving the blockade to the steps, thus blocking the door entirely. At this point the traditional Appalachian style square dancers started up on the sidewalk below the steps to support the blockade.
The cops still declined to arrest the civil disobediance team, so shortly before 1PM the blockade was withdrawn and the report card attached to the door along with a companion sign. Police pulled the signs down and dumped them in a trash can. Several Appalachia residents were deeply offended, feeling they too were being regarded as “trash.” During the blockade, two CEQ staffers who had met with them for hours the previous day walked by without a single word and rolled their eyes at activists, another deeply offensive snub.
Five years ago, coal barons whined about a “war on coal” while Rising Tide disrupted coal industry events in big cities with black balloons. The focus was very much on surface mining of coal. Since then a massive shift to fracked gas by electrical utilities has diverted public attention, but mountaintop removal mining continues as the coal barons seek export markets.
I can only remember a single action by Obama against MTR mining since then: the high profile rejection of proposed Spruce #1 MTR mine, which would have been among the worst. Now other MTR mines are scheduled to open, and King Coal is back to his usual ways of “public” meetings 30 miles away from affected communities announced only in the classifed ads of a single newspaper. All those flowery promises, and no action from Obama at all unless you were lucky enough to live in the area that would have been the Spruce #1 mine. Still, the Alliance for Appalachia graded Obama “Incomplete” on protecting Appalachian water, mountains, health, and future, reserving a grade of “F-” for holding state goverments responsible for their part in enforcing the Clean Water Act.