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Jun 242009

From Green Right Now Reports:

Famed climate scientist Dr. James E. Hansen, actress Daryl Hannah and Rainforest Alliance Network Executive Director Michael Brune, along with several local residents were arrested on Tuesday while protesting mountaintop removal in Southern West Virginia.

The protesters were outside the gates of a Massey Energy plant in Raleigh County, where they sat down and blocked a roadway. Thirty-one protesters were arrested for obstructing traffic and police officers, according to the Charleston Gazette.

The protesters chose the site because Massey has a slurry (wet waste from coal operations) impoundment that sits near an elementary school.

Mountaintop removal is blamed for degrading soil and waters across Appalachia as coal extraction waste contaminates rivers and upsets ecosystems. Spills of waste impoundment facilities have left a toxic residue in several Appalachian towns.  Yet it remains a legal practice in the US.

Hansen, known for sounding an early alarm about climate change two decades ago, considers coal combustion and mountaintop removal to be key contributors to global warming and has even registered opposition to the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy bill pending in Congress because it will allow new coal plants.

Dr. Hansen heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.