West Virginia symposium disrupted by activists

TWO environmentalists are being charged with trespassing, as well as obstruction and unlawful assembly, after protesting at an energy production and environmental conference in Charleston, West Virginia.

Donna Schmidt

According to the Associated Press, Joe Solomon and David Baghdadi were removed from the Charleston Marriott downtown after linking themselves together inside reinforced plastic pipe outside the Appalachian Research Initiative for Environmental Science and Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration event.

The news service said the two were chanting, “Coal kills, science lies”, before being taken to the Charleston Municipal Court.

Solomon reportedly posted a $1686 bond and was released while Baghdadi was transported to South Central Regional Jail.

Both face fines of $562 for each charge.

The ARIES gathering was set up to deliver the first results of an industry-funded project.

The symposium runs through Wednesday and will also cover topics such as research on mountain top removal, technology for coal slurry and a discussion on mining’s place in the nation’s long-term economic plan.

ARIES director Michael Karmis told the AP that the groups had welcomed the presence of several community groups and that he was disappointed the environmentalists had chosen to disrupt the event rather than provide dialogue.

“It is regrettable that their actions delayed this important meeting," he said, noting that the demonstrators were reportedly angry that no ordinary people were included with the symposium’s itinerary of regulators from Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia.

Activists, on the other hand, just classified the conference as lip service from the industry.

“This is just another example of the coal industry cynically trying to muddy the waters, distort the science and delay the inevitable,” anti-strip mining activist Junior Walk told the AP.

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