Activists call for ethical and sustainable investment in Appalachia
From Capitalism vs. the Climate
Activists associated with Capitalism vs. the Climate and Hands Off Appalachia participated in a solidarity action at UBS wealth management services in Stamford, Connecticut. The non-violent protest was in opposition to UBS’ funding of the harmful extractive process known as mountaintop removal.
Four of the activists, April Scheller of Middletown, Carmen Cordero of Hartford, Nick Katkevich of Voluntown, and Vittorio (Vic) Lancia of Portland, were arrested by the Stamford Police Department for Criminal Trespass and Breach of Peace when UBS executives would not meet with them to discuss the request.
Mountaintop removal (MTR) is an extreme form of coal extraction that uses explosives to remove up to 800 vertical feet of mountaintop to expose underlying coal seams. MTR poisons water supplies, causes cancer and birth defects, devastates local economies, and displaces large segments of Central Appalachian residents. UBS provides investment services to Patriot, Arch and James River Coal Companies. These companies operate mountaintop removal mines in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.
Capitalism vs. the Climate member Vic Lancia said, “I’m beyond appalled at the magnitude of devastation and injustice that is mountaintop removal. In such I see no reverence for life on the planet, no economic or social justice , and no concern for prosperity. What I do see is a massive sacrifice to greed. Apathy amounts to such tyranny. That’s why I’m participating in this action.”
Among the demands articulated in the letter read, “repair the damage UBS has done to Appalachian communities and invest in their future: take advantage of the opportunity to invest in energy efficiency in the region; invest in education and infrastructure in communities that are traditionally under-served; and create a pool for micro-loans for young entrepreneurs trying to do business in an environment bereft of economic opportunity.”
“My family lives across from the largest coal fired power plant in the Northeast. Dominating the horizon, the plant is a clear reminder of the coal industries’ poisonous strangle on American energy production. From the mountains of Appalachia to the bays of Rhode Island, coal brings destruction and illness. If UBS has any bit of light in their hearts, they will work immediately to withdraw their financial support from the coal industry and mountaintop removal extraction,” said Nick Katkevich.
Ricki Draper, a cofounder of the Hands off Appalachia campaign said, “Today’s protest exhibits our dedication to ending UBS’ support of an industry that is devastating Appalachia and killing its residents”. Draper was arrested in the Knoxville protest in May. “For over a year, Hands off Appalachia has attempted to get UBS to respond to our demands. UBS has refused comment and any sort of communication. Today, four people courageously demanded a response. I am anxious to see how UBS will respond and if they will take responsibility for the destruction they are funding.”
April Scheller, another activist arrested today said, “Mad persons also know about being violently forced from home, shut away from sky, and subjected to the side effects. Mountainfolk were ordered from their own lands, effectively exiled and bombed by mountaintop removal: look at the craters, washed out roads, wells blackened, mourners chased from gravesites, more still slain while mining. Lost in that was life and home. I seek with them a peaceable end to chemical warfare which darkens skies and sickens children for greed.”
The action today followed a meeting on Wednesday in Kentucky at the Lexington UBS office and a non-violent action in Knoxville, Tennessee on May 24. Further actions are likely to follow until UBS ends their participation in the destruction of Appalachia.
Here is a video of the blockade: http://youtu.be/TUDvCVGzGFA