Letter Delivery to UBS and Rally at Stamford 14 Court Date

The Stamford 14 had their fifth court appearance today. They were given another continuance for June 11.

Hands Off Appalachia continues the campaign to get UBS to divest from mountaintop removal as the Stamford 14 continue their legal battle.

Supporters joined the 14 at the courthouse for a public rally.Court date Rally

Earlier this morning, organizers with Hands Off Appalachia delivered a letter to UBS Americas. It read,

Dear UBS North Americas,

Thank you for meeting with Hands Off Appalachia in November. While we appreciate your willingness to hold a dialogue with us, we are deeply concerned with UBS’s inadequate policy on mountaintop removal, especially in light of recent developments in Central Appalachia. Mountaintop removal coal mining continues to destroy communities, create health crises, and cause permanent destruction.

Since we met in November, over 300,000 people in central and southern West Virginia found their tap water rendered unusable because of a 10,000-gallon spill of MCHM, a chemical manufactured for coal processing.While next to nothing about the long-term health impacts of this chemical is known, hundreds of people were hospitalized from illnesses caused by acute exposure. Not only is the mining industry responsible for the demand for crude MCHM, but it is the bulk of the reason that a spill above just one water intake affected people in nine different counties: coal mining has for decades contaminated local water sources and forced a widespread rural population onto a centralized utility. Since we met in November, since personally delivering hundreds of gallons of water to our WV neighbors, we see ourselves as scrambling to avert the next industrial disaster.

In February, a coal ash spill polluted the Dan River in North Carolina leaving thousands with massive water contamination. A week later, 108,000 gallons of coal slurry from a Patriot Coal Prep Plant spilled into the Kanawha tributary.

After James River Coal Company declared bankruptcy on April 7, UBS downgraded Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources from neutral to sell. Clearly, coal is a volatile investment. While UBS downgraded Alpha and Arch for economic reasons, it is imperative that UBS also recognize the impact of its investments on human health and the environment. People living near mountaintop removal sites are 50% more likely to die of cancer and 42% more likely to be born with birth defects compared to other people in Appalachia.

This month, JPMorgan Chase updated its environmental policy, revealing that it will be ending financial relationships with mountaintop removal coal mining companies. Wells Fargo and BNP Bank of the West recently made similar steps.

It is time for UBS to follow the lead taken by these banks and stop funding companies that practice mountaintop removal.


Hands Off Appalachia

Hands Off Appalachia will not rest until UBS stops funding mountaintop removal!


Hands Off Appalachia: February and March!

The Past Two Months

February and March were busy months for Hands Off Appalachia! We travelled to Connecticut, Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Washington DC, and Maryland for speaking events, public demonstrations, and court dates.  

Stamford 14 Appear in Court 
The Stamford 14 (who were arrested in November for hanging a banner from a construction crane, blocking the entrance of UBS’s North American Headquarters, and dropping a banner inside the headquarters) appeared in court on February 13 and March 20. On both occasions, the judge gave the 14 a continuance. They will appear again in court on April 22 for a pretrial hearing. 

Stamford 14 Speaking Tour  
On the way to court, the Stamford 14 stopped in eight cities along the east coast to talk about mountaintop removal and Hands Off Appalachia. They spoke at colleges, churches, and community centers, and met people resisting extractive industry in different ways in each city.

Mountain Justice Spring Break 
On March 7, Mountain Justice Spring Breakers joined Hands Off Appalachia in Roanoke, Johnson City, Kingsport, and Asheville to meet with UBS and demand an end to mountaintop removal. We asked each office to contact UBS Americas and urge an end to UBS’s funding of mountaintop removal. While the Johnson City and Kingsport offices did not give protesters a meeting, UBS officials sat down with groups in Asheville and Roanoke. We will maintain communication with those branches, and continue pressing them to make a statement
against MTR to UBS Americas. 

The Walk for a New Spring walked through Stamford on March 13 and held a vigil in front of UBS to demand an end to their funding of mountain top removal! 

Hands Off Appalachia in the News!

Dan Cohn talks with Stan Heller of The Struggle during the Stamford 14 speaking tour.

Adam Hall recently did an interview with Appalachian Voices about defending the Appalachian Mountains and his role in Hands Off Appalachia. Read the interview here!

And be sure to check out a report on the speaking tour on the I Love Mountains website here!

Stamford 14 Speaking Tour

Stamford 14 Speaking Tour

The Stamford 14 are coming to a city near you!

Can you help us get there? Donate online today!: http://bit.ly/donateHOA.

2/1: Washington, DC (Petworth). DC Birthday Bash and HOA Benefit with the walking sticks!

2/2: Worcester, MA. Benefit show 7pm / the firehouse / $3-$5 no one turned away. Music includes sweet meloncholy folky songs,  diy doomy folk, new projects, and more!

2/3: Washington, DC (Peace House) 7:30pm. 1233 12th St NW. Learn more about HOA, our actions in Connecticut, and goals moving forward. We’ll also be sharing general information about the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia, the DMV connection to coal exports, and how you can plug into this work.

2/4: Swarthmore, PA. Swarthmore College
2/5: Waltham, MA. Brandeis University
2/7: New Haven, CT. Party and bands at 8pm! Contact HandsOffAppalachia@gmail.com for the address!
2/8: Bedford, NY: 4:00pm/Bedford Presbyterian Church/44 Village Green, Bedford, NY/Hors d’oeuvres and wine will be served.
2/9: Frederick, MD. Details TBA!
2/15: Philadelphia, PA 7pm/1325 N. Randolph St.
Can’t make it but want to help us get there?
Donate online at: http://bit.ly/donateHOA

Let’s Take It Downtown: Challenging energy extraction companies at their headquarters

The following statement from Hands Off Appalachia activist Dan Cohn was written last week on January 8th, 2014, the day of his court date.

On November 25th, 2013, I was arrested for hanging a large banner off a construction crane in downtown Stamford, CT. Today, I’m back in Stamford going to court, where I am facing a felony charge.

I went to jail in November to expose UBS, the Swiss investment bank and wealth management firm headquartered in Stamford, as one of the most prolific financiers of coal companies that practice mountaintop removal (MTR) strip mining in Central Appalachia. We were there to make sure UBS can no longer hide from the desolation and desecration entailed by their financial backing of coal companies.

Where I live in St. Louis, MO, energy extraction is an abstraction for most folks. Yet, our city is home to five major coal companies and a huge regional gas utility that adores fracking for shale gas. For those of us like myself who don’t live in the shadow of energy extraction, we must confront extraction companies on our home turf if we are to stand in solidarity with the folks fighting them in their backyards, as well as those on the frontlines of climate impacts.

We can go after their corporate headquarters in at least two ways. The first is to drag these companies’ names through the mud. Most of them make a habit of sprinkling philanthropic breadcrumbs here and there in an attempt to show that they are “good” corporate “citizens.” Executives and upper management actually spend time deciding how to build this positive public perception of their company to minimize the risk to their reputation with investors and financial analysts, not to mention the general public. We can directly hamper that effort by exposing them as the socially indifferent, fundamentally ecocidal, shareholder value-driven machines they really are. It’s no coincidence that I was arrested the day after Stamford’s annual Thanksgiving-time parade of giant balloons and family fun, the UBS Parade Spectacular.

We can also cut off the spigot of public money subsidizing the operation of company headquarters. When large corporations threaten to relocate their office space and workers, city politicians nearly always swoop in to offer municipal tax breaks that swipe money from our public services. In St. Louis, coal mining giant Peabody Energy received a $61 million tax package in 2010 for furniture and office renovations as enticement to remain in the city, taking much needed dollars from the budget of our embattled city schools. This is for a corporation that brought in more than $8 billion in 2012, and whose business is responsible for digging up nearly 1% of all carbon emitted since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. We’re moving to amend our City’s governing Charter to make this form of “economic development” (i.e., extortion, corporate welfare, etc.) illegal.

Every morning, we need to remember that people are waking up to go to jobs in St. Louis, Stamford, and dozens of other cities where they make decisions to continue energy extraction, either by putting shovels in the ground, or, in the case of UBS and other big banks (PNC, Bank of America, Citi, Chase, etc.), helping pay for the shovels. These people pad their own pockets by sacrificing the health of human communities and the integrity of ecosystems, and we cannot continue to let them hide from their crimes behind the glass and steel of their corporate headquarters. As Utah Phillips famously put it, “[t]he earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.”

If you want to help us continue to bring the fight against MTR to UBS, please consider throwing a few bucks our way at http://bit.ly/Ltg4zF.

Support our campaign and share Dan’s story on Facebook.


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