Whitesburg KY

Court bars demonstrators from mine


Coal giant Massey Energy Co. has obtained a court order barring 14 antimining protesters from returning to one of its southern West Virginia mines where the demonstrators were arrested in June.

The protesters face $10,000 fines if they return to Massey’s Twilight surface mine or other Boone County operations, according to the order.

The preliminary injunction is the latest in a series of skirmishes between the coal industry and opponents of mountaintop removal mining, a highly efficient yet destructive practice that involves blasting away ridges to extract multiple seams of high-energy, low-sulfur coal.

Most of the protests have targeted Massey operations in southern West Virginia. The Richmond, Va.-based company sought the preliminary injunction after a June 18 incident at Twilight, where the 14 were arrested on various charges, including trespassing, littering and battery. Four of the protesters scaled the 300-foot boom of a piece of earthmoving equipment to unfurl a sign urging a ban on mountaintop mining.

The protesters have engaged in a pattern of trespassing at Massey operations and made it clear they plan to keep doing so, causing irreparable harm to the company, Boone County Circuit Court Judge William Thompson wrote.

Thompson signed the order last week.

Massey spokesman Jeff Gillenwater declined to comment beyond saying the company is addressing protests at various operations “as they occur.” Protesters targeted the company’s Goals Coal processing plant in Raleigh County last month, when actress Daryl Hannah and NASA scientist James Hansen were among 31 people arrested.

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