Ohio Valley Coal Co. hired consultant Jeff Holt to conduct studies
of the potential impacts of their pending and future permits on Dysart
Woods. A team of six coal-company-paid "scientists" were in the forest
today and yesterday doing vegetative studies of the area.
Two classes of plant ecology visited the forest today to study
old-growth forests. Kister is in the grad class taught by Associate Plant
Biology Professor Brian McCarthy. Kister approached the researchers and
questioned politely what they were doing. When they admitted they were
paid by Ohio Valley Coal Co., Kister said, "How can you provide unbiased
data when you're paid by the coal company?"
Holt said, "You have just libeled me. I am going to sue you."
"You going to sue me?" Kister asked.
"You have a year to find out," Holt threatened. "I'd rather sue
you in Athens County where it will stick. If that's corrupt so be it."
Kister also talked to West Virginia University forester Ray Hicks
who was in the gathering of seven that witnessed the discussion. "I'm not
going to claim neutrality," Hicks said about his being paid by Ohio Valley
McCarthy joined the group and pleaded for them to protect Dysart
Woods because, "The old-growth forest is such a rarity in the landscape."
Hicks said he planned to present a paper at an upcoming National
Academy of Sciences conference about Dysart Woods, but wondered whether he
could because the coal company owned the data.
Holt said it is Ohio Valley Coal Co.'s policy to release data.
However, the coal company has yet to provide the studies that Ohio
University has asked for, despite the fact that the comment period for
permit #7 that threatens Dysart's watershed is up at the end of this
As Kister and McCarthy left, Holt said, "What are you going to
quote?" several times. Kister was silent. "If you quote me, I'm going to
sue you for slander," Holt said.
"These blatant intimidation tactics have no place in a democracy,"
Kister said. "Ohio Valley Coal Co. cannot win with truth, so it must
threaten SLAPP suits to silence its critics and destroy Dysart Woods for
its polluting greed."
Last June the coal company threatened to sue Dysart activist Lisa