Hospital Hosting Coal Event Requests Restraining Order Against Local Activists

picture-7019-1570723309.jpg
on

A West Virginia hospital made a very unique request earlier this week. Authorities at St. Mary’s Medical Center asked a local judge for a restraining order against the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC), which had announced plans to protest outside of a coal-boosting event at the hospital on Tuesday. 

Janet Keating, OVEC‘s executive director, explained that the goal of the rally was to ask why a facility dedicated to health would host an event that promoted the coal industry, which is clearly linked to many public health problems.

“There’s been a lot of silence from our state leaders about these health studies and the impacts on communities around coal,” said Keating. “It’s a mystery to me why a hospital would want to host this. Our whole thing is, ‘Let’s not have it at a hospital, where you’re supposed to be helping people.’”

Hoping to stifle such discussion, while claiming that the rally could impede the services conducted at the facility, St. Mary’s requested a temporary restraining order.

In the courtroom, representatives for OVEC assured the judge that the gathering would be a “peaceful, lawful protest that will not trespass onto the hospital’s property.”

And after the judge sided with the coalition, that’s exactly how the protest went down – as a peaceful and lawful reminder to Huntington area residents that the coal industry does not have the best interests of public health in mind.

The hospital, which also houses the St. Mary’s Center for Education, was hosting the Huntington Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Energy & Natural Resource Symposium, where the keynote speaker was Robert M. Duncan, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE). A representative from the hospital wouldn’t confirm how much the Chamber of Commerce had paid for use of the facility, but said that it’s common for St. Mary’s to rent out space for conferences, and that the hospital was not promoting any particular cause.

Well it is a conference center and the chamber of commerce has rented the facility to use for today’s symposium and that’s what’s going on there, “ said Doug Korstanje, Director of Marketing and Community Relations at the hospital. “And again, it’s not that we’re taking a stand on the issue it’s just that chamber of commerce is using the conference center for an energy symposium and we want to make sure that goes on as planned.”

In siding with OVEC, Cabell County Circuit Judge Paul Farrell said, “I’m going to deny your request, I suggest you put HPD on notice that you may need assistance if there is an issue. OVEC is a recognized environmental group that has their agenda, coal people have their agenda and those two shouldn’t clash.”

Ironically, the restraining order request only helped the exposure of the OVEC rally.

It raises public awareness, we had no idea that the hospital would seek a temporary restraining order to keep us from having this rally and ironically we’re getting more publicity as a result of this and that’s fine with us,” Keating said.

picture-7019-1570723309.jpg
Ben Jervey is a Senior Fellow for DeSmog and directs the KochvsClean.com project. He is a freelance writer, editor, and researcher, specializing in climate change and energy systems and policy. Ben is also a Research Fellow at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor for GOOD Magazine, and wrote a longstanding weekly column titled “The New Ideal: Building the clean energy economy of the 21st Century and avoiding the worst fates of climate change.” He has also contributed regularly to National Geographic News, Grist, and OnEarth Magazine. He has published three books—on eco-friendly living in New York City, an Energy 101 primer, and, most recently, “The Electric Battery: Charging Forward to a Low Carbon Future.” He graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies from Middlebury College, and earned a Master’s in Energy Regulation and Law at Vermont Law School. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.

Related Posts

on

New analysis sheds light on key tactics Monsanto used to distort science and spin the narrative in defense of its herbicide product.

New analysis sheds light on key tactics Monsanto used to distort science and spin the narrative in defense of its herbicide product.
on

Campaigners warn Brussels is poised to water down — or fatally delay — bold pesticide reduction targets.

Campaigners warn Brussels is poised to water down — or fatally delay — bold pesticide reduction targets.
on

TC Energy’s upgrade of its GTN XPress pipeline would result in a huge increase in methane gas volumes to the region. But it would undermine climate laws already on the books.

TC Energy’s upgrade of its GTN XPress pipeline would result in a huge increase in methane gas volumes to the region. But it would undermine climate laws already on the books.
Analysis
on

After a decade of losing hundreds of billions of dollars, the shale oil industry is finally making money — and running out of oil.

After a decade of losing hundreds of billions of dollars, the shale oil industry is finally making money — and running out of oil.