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We are the 99 percent

West Virginia, Demand Something New

Posted 10 years ago on Jan. 18, 2014, 1:59 p.m. EST by damiencrisp
Tags: Coal, Chemical Spill, West Virginia, Freedom Industries, Capitalism Gone Wild

This article is by Damien Crisp

In West Virginia three hundred thousand folks were without water. They could not shower. They could not drink their water. They could not make coffee. Local businesses could not open their doors. Residents could flush their toilets but, otherwise, the water was declared useless for an unknown amount of time. West Virginia’s governor declared the water safe again but residents remained weary. Do you trust the local officials in a state long controlled by industry? You certainly cannot trust the company responsible for poisoning your water supply. And, how long will residue from the chemicals be in your pipes? How much is left in the water supply? The Elk River was being poisoned by the effects of hyper-capitalist driven deregulation and now residents have to live with the paranoia created by irresponsible industries who never concede fault. Now, West Virginia’s Charleston Gazette is reporting tests used to declare water safe again were faulty. We have to ask: were they were intentionally misleading?

Freedom Industries is responsible for leaking 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol into the river. Operating under few restrictions and aggressively seeking to maintain profit, Freedom Industries attempted to hide their spill of chemicals used to clean coal. They had good reason to believe this spill could be hidden. Their efforts were thwarted by locals who could smell chemicals and reported the crisis.

The state of West Virginia is a poster child for nationwide exploitation of people and the environment via “free market” ideology. Residents of Appalachia, especially West Virginia, have long been exploited by industry. Isolation, lack of solid education, abundant natural resources and empty promises by predatory capitalists guaranteed historic exploitation.

Historic exploitation that has included the United States Army siding with the Coal industry (surprise, surprise) to break a rebellion by coal miners trying to unionize.

The state has consistently worked against its own environmental and economic survival by allowing the worst practices of the coal industry a safe place to play. Control of the electorate as well as control of state and local governments by the coal industry left little choice other than self-destruction over the past 150 years.

The effects of a nationwide push to deregulate industry in the United States are now an undeniable reality to 300,000 West Virginians. They were left with the evidence: a river of toxicity. More broadly, the effects of a state controlled by the coal industry are made extremely clear to the American public by this crisis. As residents, journalists and activists tried to learn the impact of this chemical spill, they found a chemical that has been allowed to be used by the coal industry without adequate research into its dangers.

Could this be the environmental disaster that turns residents of West Virginia against exploitation of their land and lives? Could this example of “free market” ideology in practice help reverse our slide into a reality increasingly dominated by big business regardless of its destructive impact? Stand in solidarity with the people of West Virginia and hold this crisis up as proof of the destruction created by capitalist ideology. Profit at any cost is not acceptable anymore. Fight back West Virginians! Occupy the energy and demand an end to the coal industry and its abuses.

First image via riddle-you-this.tumblr.com

Damien Crisp is an artist, writer and activist. He has lived in New York City, Guadalajara. Mexico, and currently lives in southeast Tennessee. His writings can be followed on social media and blogs. He was a body, voice, and citizen journalist during Occupy Wall Street's time at Zuccotti Park, as well as a coordinator for Occupy Sandy.



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[-] 4 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

Don't Drink the Water

Correct - instead - collect the water that you are being told is safe to drink - and - have those who are telling you it is safe - Drink It as you present it to them from your household taps - have them drink it as it is presented - in public on TV - daily - ALL DAY LONG - for a minimum of 1 year - this activity would of course include their families as well as the executives and their families of the company that spilled the chemicals. No Worries - It's Safe - Right???

Not to forget all officialdom - include high ranking leadership of the EPA and FDA and CDC as well.

[-] 2 points by elf3 (4203) 10 years ago

Ten years from now when livers are failing ....you won't be able to prove what caused it... you'll just drown in medical debt and eventually die - they don't care.

[-] 1 points by 99nproud (2697) 9 years ago

Coal, choking all, cost prohibitive

"..13 percent of all U.S. fossil-fuel emissions stem from Powder River Basin coal, which is burned in more than 200 power plants across 35 states. "


Wyoming, as well as W Va.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

Exactly why they should be made to drink it bathe in it cook with it 24/7/365. They being the politicians and health officials that are declaring these waters to be safe - along with the owners and board of directors and the executive abominations/officers of these polluting businesses = fossil fuel being the #1 polluter.

[-] 3 points by JohnWa (513) 10 years ago

Laws need to be changed to make shareholders liable in events of public health and safety. Hiding behind a corporation stops the 1% from considering others - which is alien to them.

[-] 3 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

Politicians & Public safety officials and their families to drink and bathe in the water ( only the water ) that they have now declared safe for the rest of the population to drink?

Cool lead by example - Cause It Is Safe - RIGHT?

Absolutely - put it in their coffee juice etc etc etc - let them prove with their own health and their families health that there is no danger in contact or ingestion - have em bathe in it and cook with it - have em breath the vapors Continuously/constantly 24/7/365.

It is safe - so - no worries - they did say so - RIGHT???

[-] 3 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago


DKAtoday ‏@DKAtoday

West Virginia, Demand Something New | http://OccupyWallSt.org : http://occupywallst.org/article/west-virginia-demand-something-new/#.UtrqQXng0Gk.twitter

Safe They Say? Fine lets C them drink it & bathe in it


[-] 3 points by shoozTroll (17632) 10 years ago

The science is clear.


Our "relationship" with coal, must change.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

It has been one long week since the devastating chemical spill on the Elk River poisoned the drinking water for over 300,000 people in West Virginia. Some residents have been told they can start flushing out their water systems while others are still using bottled water for drinking, cooking and bathing. Even where the water is back on, it's undrinkable, forcing residents to continue their reliance on bottled and shipped in water.

It is no secret that Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, the WV legislature, and the WV Department of Environmental Protection have worked to undercut protections for people's health and the environment in favor of the coal and chemical industry. Unfortunately, this chemical spill is not an isolated incident. There is a silent water crisis in West Virginia, where communities living near coal mining face similar dangers each day.

If West Virginia leadership won't protect communities living downstream from coal mining, then President Obama must step up and protect communities from this toxic industry. Sign the petition, and tell President Obama that West Virginia leaders cannot be trusted to regulate the coal industry.

This spill only underscores the coal industry's widespread use of dangerous chemicals and the cost to Appalachian communities and mountains. If the WV Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) continues to turn a blind eye to Big Coal, President Obama should direct federal agencies to do the job the WV DEP will not do.

Tell President Obama to allow the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement to step in and stand up for the health of West Virginia communities.

Thanks for all you do,

Mary Anne Hitt Beyond Coal Campaign Director Sierra Club

P.S. Six letters are better than one. Will you share this email with five of your friends and family, too?

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Sierra Club | 85 2nd St San Francisco, CA 94105

I added:

To the Public - make your officials drink the water.

[-] 2 points by Nevada1 (5843) 10 years ago

"Sacrifice Zones"---------That is the plan, and us regular people voicing opposition, are at risk of being dealt with as Terrorists by Homeland Security.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

"Sacrifice Zones"---------That is the plan

Problem #1 with that plan is - we only have 1 planet - and the whole planet is becoming the sacrifice zone. The true domestic terrorists - own the corp(se)oRATions and are executive abominations/officers of same.

[-] 2 points by Nevada1 (5843) 10 years ago

Well said. Not much left of the federal government, (mainly corpRat thugs).

[-] 3 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

Perhaps there remains enough to see the present practices of murder and suicide ended - for we have not been completely sold-out - not yet anyway.

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 10 years ago

You're going to like this one too.


[-] 1 points by RadicalsUnite (94) 10 years ago

not only do they control the infrastructure, the energy and the transporation, they also get subsidies every year from the tax payers from congress. Its absoute control from all.

[-] 1 points by RadicalsUnite (94) 10 years ago

another cup of freedom for the public.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 10 years ago

all clear?

Sort of, but maybe not.

Don't ya love their decisiveness?

Don't ya love all those gutted public safety departments?


[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

Beyond the W Virginia poisoning of defenseless population/innocents - ALL in the name of FOSSIL FUEL:

Standing eye to eye with Chevron CEO John Watson, Servio Curipoma fought back tears and bravely declared, "My mother died from your cancer. You killed my mother." [1]

Servio, a cacao farmer from the small oil-ravaged town of San Carlos, Ecuador, traveled thousands of miles to face down the CEO of one of the world's most powerful companies. His goal: Hold Chevron accountable for polluting his once-pristine homeland with toxic oil waste and killing his parents and his sister. [2]

For three decades, Texaco, now part of Chevron, dumped 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste into the beautiful Ecuadorian Amazon. [3] Servio's family and thousands like it were left suffering a plague of deadly cancers and devastating birth defects. [4]

Now, despite losing a 20-year legal battle, Chevron continues to deny responsibility for the world's largest oil disaster. [5,6]

The U.S. Senate has the power to investigate and help stop Chevron's outrageous attacks on those who stand up to corporate greed. But it is up to us to make sure they use that power.

Tell the U.S. Senate's top corporate watchdogs to investigate Chevron's attacks against the very people it poisoned. Let's flood their inboxes with 50,000 comments before Wednesday's big press conference!

In an unprecedented move, the oil giant is using a U.S. law intended to rein in mobsters to sue Servio's neighbors and fellow activists and supporters -- branding them as criminals just for speaking out. [7]

The Sierra Club and thirty other organizations have joined forces to call out Chevron for their dirty tactics -- but we need to keep the drumbeat going. [8] These 10 powerful senators have a proven track record of taking on big corporations and winning. [9] If they stand with us, then Chevron's evil tactics can be stopped.

In 1994, when Texaco was done pillaging Ecuador, it left behind a toxic wasteland. More than 900 open and unlined waste pits dot the landscape, overflowing toxic chemicals into the waterways that Servio's family and their neighbors rely on for cooking and bathing. [10] But Chevron calls the people of Ecuador criminals?

Send your message and let's show Chevron it can't put profits over people!

Servio isn't alone. Emergildo Criollo lost his two sons and nursed a wife through uterine cancer. His family drank, bathed, and fished in water he now knows was poisoned with oil. [11] "I lost two children to Texaco's pollution and the company now calls me a criminal for daring to demand justice." [12]

Despite Chevron's attacks, the brave people of Ecuador and their supporters aren't giving up the fight -- but they can't do it alone. Will you stand with them?

In it together,

Ashley Allison SierraRise Senior Campaigner

P.S. Five signatures are even more powerful than one -- after you take action, be sure to forward this alert to your friends, family, and colleagues!

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  1. Bennett, Caroline (2013 October 30). "Servio Curipoma: Holding Chevron Accountable." Amazon Watch: Eye on the Amazon.

  2. Anderson, Mitch (2011 May 18). "Servio Curipoma Arrives in New York to Tell His Story." Amazon Watch: Eye on the Amazon.

  3. CNN Wire Staff (2012 January 4). "Ecuador court upholds $8.6 billion ruling against Chevron." CNN.

  4. Business Wire staff (2010 October 14). "Amazon Defense Coalition: Chevron's Ecuador Cancer Problem: 10,000 People at Risk of Contracting Disease in Coming Decades, Says Expert." Business Wire.

  5. Anderson, Mitch (2011 February 16). "Chevron Found Guilty In Amazon Pollution Case." SFGate.

  6. Zelman, Joanna (2011 January 24). "Chevron Accused Of 'World's Worst Oil-Related Disaster' In Ecuador: Alleged Evidence Submitted In Lawsuit." Huffington Post.

  7. Baker, David R. (2011 February 2). "Chevron files RICO suit in Ecuador case." SFGate.

  8. Amazon Watch et. al. (2013 December 18). "Institutions, Organizations and Individuals Advocating for Corporate Accountability Condemn Chevron's Retaliatory Attacks on Human Rights and Corporate Accountability Advocates and See it as a Serious Threat to Open Society and Due Process of Law." Amazon Watch.

  9. The Corporate Accountability Coalition Staff. "2012 Congressional Report Card." The Corporate Accountability Coalition.

  10. Anderson, Mitch (2011 February 16). "Chevron Found Guilty In Amazon Pollution Case." SFGate.

  11. Shan, Han. (2010 March 3). "Ecuadorean Indigenous Leader Asks CA Lawmakers for Support in Campaign to Demand Chevron Clean Up its Pollution in Amazon." ChevronToxico.

  12. Paz y Miño, Paul (2013 October 14). "Chevron Retaliation Trial Opens Against Victims of Pollution in Ecuador." Common Dreams.

Photo: Caroline Bennett, Amazon Watch

Sierra Club | 85 2nd St San Francisco, CA 94105 | sierrarise.members@sierraclub.org