May newsletter

CCJ Organizer Attends Frontline Oil and Gas Summit led by Indigenous Leaders

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The Frontline Oil and Gas Summit took place May 16th through the 18th in Ponca City, Oklahoma. The conference was held in the epicenter of oil and gas development in the battleground state of Oklahoma, only miles from ConocoPhillips 66 massive refinery, and surrounded by fracking operations as far as the eye could see. The conference was led by an Indigenous Ponca Nation elder, Casey Camp-Horinek.

The summit honored the idea that “Environmental Justice means always standing with frontline communities most impacted—and recognizing that the center of the storm is often where innovation and courage meet to propel our movements forward.  We neglect organizing in “sacrifice communities” to the detriment of our movement for meaningful change.”

Casey is a tribal leader within the Ponca Nation, in addition to a movement leader for environmental justice across the entire world. The conference welcomed 160 organizers and activists, 75% of which were living on the frontlines of oil and gas development, including CCJ Organizer Heaven Sensky. Participants spent three days sharing their personal stories with one another and building solidarity across oil and gas frontlines all across the United States, including Alaska. Over the sharing of meals and traditional Ponca ceremonies, participants gained immense power by coming together in support of one another’s work across their widespread places of home.

Casey brought together her immediate and extended family to provide meals and comfort for the guests of the Ponca Nation, who got to share much needed joy from several of her grandchildren as they shared blessed water and laughter with all in attendance.

On the last day of the conference, the Ponca Nation led the summit in a march past the ConocoPhillips 66 refinery to a billboard newly erected by the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) foundation. The billboard is part of a larger effort to improve policy and increase awareness around the staggering epidemic that is the murder and trafficking of indigenous women across the United States. The MMIW works in Ponca specifically because the presence of work “man camps” in places of high oil and gas activity is a direct threat to the safety and well being of indigenous women.

As the march passed the refinery, Casey’s son, Mikasi, shared with all of those who participated that their community is ravaged with childhood cancers and increased asthma. Given its closeness to the refinery, specifically within 12 miles, the soil on their entire reservation is legally considered contaminated and unsafe to farm and eat from.

What is happening to the native Ponca Nation of Oklahoma as a result of oil and gas development resonates directly with the multifaceted issues surrounding oil and gas development  in the coalfields of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

For more information about the conference, visit https://frontlineoilandgas.org

To learn how to support the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Organization, visit https://mmiwusa.org

For any questions or to learn more about supporting others in their fight to protect their communities, you can email Heaven at heaven@coalfieldjustice.org



Our 13th Annual DRYerson Festival is Just One Month Away!

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We can’t wait to see all of your friendly faces on June 22nd at Ryerson Station State Park! DRYerson is a very special event for us, as much of our work has focused on defending and protecting this beautiful and important piece of Greene County - and its only state park - so that it can be enjoyed for generations to come!

Please join us in Pavilion #2 of the Park, beginning at 1 p.m. A map of the park and its general location can be found here. Check in at the registration table when you arrive to be entered in the drawings for door prizes!

There will be live entertainment with the lovely and talented Bree Otto, and fun and games for both adults and kids.

We will be serving picnic- and cookout-style food and drinks, including snow cones and cotton candy! Reusable foodservice will be provided by Our Children Our Earth: Toys, Silks & Eco-Goods so that we can avoid as much waste as possible.

As you can see on this map, there are numerous hiking trails. Feel free to explore the park while you’re there. You can even bring your furkids, but kindly bring them on leashes so that they don’t disturb other attendees.

Let us know you are coming to the event by registering on this page. Call us at the office (724-229-3550) if you would like to volunteer or want to know more about the event! We hope to see all of you there! Also, stay connected to other event plans at our Facebook event page!



Greene County’s Economy Must Work for Everyone

Photo of people at Washington, PA Peoples Climate, Jobs, and Justice March.

Photo of people at Washington, PA Peoples Climate, Jobs, and Justice March.

It is clear that our economy and communities are changing in Greene County. At the Center for Coalfield Justice, we acknowledge that the only way these changes will include everyone is if we are all working together. As a result, CCJ has launched a canvass in Waynesburg and Carmichaels, where we are going door to door in these two towns to talk to as many residents as we can about what they need to thrive in Greene County in the next 5-10 years. Do people need access to better-paying jobs? Do we need more investment in our children’s education? Are there adequate protections for our air, water, and public health?

The past has shown that we cannot always count on elected officials to ensure that proposed solutions address people’s needs. Through our launching of this campaign, we plan to build an avenue for everyone to participate in visioning our economic future. We believe that this will help ensure that our County Commissioners, State, and Federal Legislators know what our needs are and will allow us to better hold them accountable.

In addition to the canvass, we are hosting community conversations about what we need to support our families in the coming years. Join us for one of three workshops across the county to provide input on what types of jobs we need and how we can all act together to improve our communities. Here is the workshop schedule:

  • June 11th 6:30-8:30 in Waynesburg at the Corner Cupboard Food Bank (881 Rolling Meadows Rd, Waynesburg, PA)

  • June 12th 6:30-8:30 in Wind Ridge at the Richhill Firehall (120 Ferrell Ave, Wind Ridge, PA)

  • June 13th 6:30-8:30 in Carmichaels at the American Legion (205 E George Street, Carmichaels, PA)

During these conversations, we hope people will share their experience of living in Greene County, how they view the current local economy and access to jobs, and discuss what people need to support their families and thrive in our area. If you have any questions please call our office at 724-229-3550 or email Heaven at heaven@coalfieldjustice.org

Dinner will be served at the meetings starting at 6:00 PM and the program will start at 6:30 PM. There is space for 25 people at each workshop but if there is more interest than we have space, we will host additional meetings. We can provide childcare, travel support, and meet other access needs by request. Please note any needs in the registration form:

In addition, CCJ has been working with the Massachusetts Institute for Technology to research the status of our economy in relation to fossil fuel extraction. We have also worked with FracTracker to map the energy company-owned land in Greene County and will be publishing these results soon.

Protectors of Mingo stall Mine Permit for Six Years

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It has been six years since Protectors of Mingo began fighting against RAM Mining, LLC (an arm of Ramaco) to prevent the Ram No. 1 Mine from coming into our community, and they are still going strong. A permit has not yet been issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, but Ramaco is still moving forward with the application process and is letting shareholders know that they expect to receive the permit by the end of 2019.

Ramaco, LLC - a company based in the midwest - applied for this permit to open a new deep mine in Nottingham and Peters Township in 2013. The mine would have significant impacts on Little Mingo Creek, home values, and road conditions in the area.

Over the years, Protectors of Mingo raised awareness of this potential new deep mine throughout our area, garnering support from fellow community members and elected officials. They helped Nottingham Township adopt a series of sixty-two conditions that, should the permit be issued and the plans for mining become reality, will make a major difference in the safety and daily lives of our community. They have engaged with - and continue to engage with - public administrators to ensure that they know about the very tangible concerns we have with the proposed mining plan. As a result of Protectors of Mingo’s constant communication with the DEP, the permit is still under review. Most mining permits are decided within a year or two of being applied for. Most recently, we’ve been preparing to take action to protect our area should the permit be issued.