Daryl Hannah was among 31 people arrested in a protest against mountaintop removal in southern West Virginia, part of a wider campaign to stop the practice in the region.
The protesters, who also included NASA climate scientist James Hansen, were charged with obstructing officers and impeding traffic after they sat in the middle of State Route 3outside Massey Energy's Goals Coal preparation plant on Tuesday, the The Charleston Gazettereported.
In a brief speech, Hannah addressed the miners in the crowd. "I'd like to thank all of the miners for all of the work you've done powering America," she said. "But there is no need to destroy our planet to power our future."
Protesters believe mountaintop removal, which involves blasting away ridge tops to expose coal seams and using excess material to fill valleys, contributes to global warming. They argue that the most environmentally damaging forms of mining should be the first to go as the nation seeks out greener forms of energy.
"We have to phase out greenhouse emissions over the next 20 years," Hansen said during an interview before his arrest. "Where should you start? Well, mountaintop removal is producing only 7 percent of the nation's coal, and it's a dangerous practice."
The protesters were met with counter-demonstrators who praised the coal industry. Some ridiculed "out-of-state" protesters and "tree huggers."
"We wanted to be out here showing our support for what we believe in," said Eddie Lynch, who has worked at Massey's Progress Coal for about seven months. "They think what we're doing is wrong. I can see both sides. But I'm a coal miner. That's how I feed my family. That's what I'm going to support."
The civil disobedience wasn't a first for Hannah. She was arrested in 2006 after chaining herself to a walnut tree in a Los Angeles garden to protest plans to demolish it to make way for a warehouse, Fox News reported.
Will mountaintop removal eventually be banned? Do you think it was right for Daryl Hannah to get involved?