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Activists defy court order at Massey W.Va. office


Associated Press

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- State Police were summoned to the offices of Massey Energy’s Marfork Coal Co. Thursday to arrest three mountaintop removal mining activists who apparently defied a federal judge’s order temporarily barring them from trespassing onto any of the coal operator’s southern West Virginia properties.

Jeff Gillenwater, spokesman for Virginia-based Massey, confirmed authorities were present but declined to elaborate on the latest protest near Pettus. State Police handling the arrests could not immediately be reached for comment.

Climate Ground Zero founder Mike Roselle issued a statement saying he and fellow protesters Joseph Hamsher and Tom Smyth entered the offices about 8 a.m. and planned to stay there until the company stops blasting.

The group said it planned to present a list of violations at the Marfork processing plant, the Bee Tree Surface Mine and the Brushy Fork sludge dam to Marfork President Christopher Blanchard and Massey Chief Executive Don Blankenship.

Climate Ground Zero, based in Rock Creek, is waging an ongoing campaign of civil disobedience as it tries to stop the particularly destructive form of Appalachian strip mining, and Massey is a main target.

Massey recently won a federal court order barring all protesters from trespassing, and it wants that ban imposed for good. A hearing to make the injunction permanent is set for Feb. 23 in Beckley before U.S. District Judge Irene Berger.

Massey’s lawsuit named five individuals involved in a recent tree-sitting protest, but the order goes further. Berger’s ruling extends it to officers, agents, lawyers and anyone working with the defendants, including Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice.

But Roselle said he has no intention of backing down.

“I won’t stop breaking the law until they do,” he said.

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