Register now for the AML Policy Priorities Group’s In-Person Meeting

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Hello from the AML Research and Action Team!

We have officially launched registration for our in-person meeting, October 27th at the Breaks Interstate Park.

What can you expect at this meeting?

  • An opportunity for interested community groups across Appalachia and beyond to come together to cross collaborate and cross pollinate knowledge about the Abandoned Mine Lands Fund.
  • Presentation of the whitepaper by Appalachian Transition Fellows Eric Dixon and Kendall Bilbrey.
  • Strategy building and identification of campaign avenues or opportunities.
  • A diverse group of people working towards an effective use of Abandoned Mine Lands dollars to improve communities.

Who Will Be at this Meeting?

  • Impacted community members
  • Organizers and Activists
  • Representative from community groups and organizations
  • Scholars
  • Policy experts
  • Lobbyists
  • Potentially AML experts from outside Central Appalachia to share their successes and knowledge

Logistics

  • Date: October 27th, 10am-4pm
  • Location: Breaks Interstate Park
  • Lodging: Breaks Interstate Park Lodge OR camping at Breaks
  • Meals: catered by Breaks Restaurant
  • We have some funds to assist in travel costs

Register here by October 13th to guarantee your spot!

Please contact kendall@theallianceforappalachia.org with any questions, or by cell at (276) 620-9264

Successful Rally at the White House Council on Environmental Quality

Today dozens of residents from Appalachia and allies from across the country rallied at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Those wishing to contact the CEQ to support residents can take action here.

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This office oversees the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Surface Mining and other agencies that are responsible for protecting Appalachian residents from the severe water and health impacts of mountaintop removal and other dangerous coal practices.

Appalachian leaders met with the agencies yesterday and were disappointed with the attitude the administration showed towards those that had traveled many hours to DC for the visit. The agency representatives asked for more time to work on the issue, but mountain leaders have been waiting five years since an Obama administration Memorandum of Understanding that promised action against the destructive practice as well as reinvestment in the economy of the region.

#ourwaterourfuture #stopmtr

The tragic and unbelievable series of toxic water spills in Appalachia in 2014 alone – from the 300,0000 people impacted by the spill in West Virginia to coal ash and coal slurry spills in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina – are just the most recent disasters to show the failures of the Obama Administration to follow through on its promises to protect Appalachian communities. There have been over 500 mountains destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining and the region is ready for a just transition to a new economy beyond this destructive practice.

Our Water Our Future Bucket Brigade and sit in at CEQ
The group engaged in a sit-in on the front steps of the CEQ and waited several hours for an agency representative to come out to speak with them – as well as hosting a square dance with a live band playing traditional Appalachian music in front of the CEQ. In addition, residents organized a bucket brigade to collect clean water from DC to bring back home to their communities which do not have access to safe water to drink.

When no representative agreed to meet with residents after several hours of waiting, residents placed a reportcard on the steps which evaluated the progress so far of the CEQ on important areas such as protecting the health and water of Appalachia. Participants in the rally gave the administration a grade of “incomplete.”

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Press Release for Our Water, Our Future Event

Appalachian Leaders Bring Message to Obama Administration to Keep Promises on Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

Citizens to meet with agency officials and Congress, and hold “Our Water, Our Future” public rally

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CONTACT

Dana Kuhnline, The Alliance for Appalachia, (304) 825-3262      Dana@TheAllianceforAppalachia.org

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(Washington, D.C.) September 8, 2014 —Numerous Appalachian groups and citizens, in coordination with The Alliance for Appalachia, will gather in the nation’s capital September 8-9 to advocate for the protection of their communities from the severe environmental and community impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining. One key topic will be a review of the Obama administration’s promises in regards to the destructive practice.

In June, 2009, the Obama administration created a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among federal agencies responsible for protecting Appalachian communities from the extreme damage of mountaintop removal coal mining. This MOU made a number of commitments to address major issues,  but the results so far have been mixed. At a scheduled interagency meeting with key officials, citizens will discuss concrete solutions and next steps federal agencies can take in cases where progress has fallen short of the MOU goals.

“Five years ago, the Obama administration made a promise to take measures to protect the people, waters, and mountains of Appalachia from the dangerous impacts of mountaintop removal mining,” said Patrick Morales of The Alliance for Appalachia and Tennessee group Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM). “But mountaintop removal coal mining is still happening, people are still living without clean water, and states are still flagrantly violating the law, and refusing to protect citizens from the impacts of water pollution from coal mining.”

Citizens will present the agencies with a two-year timeline showing their goals for the remainder of the Obama administration.  They will be seeking more permanent protections and concrete commitments for what the agencies can accomplish by the end of 2016.  The aim of the meeting is to work with the Obama administration to protect Appalachian residents’ health, access to clean and safe drinking water and air, and to encourage long-term economic sustainability that promotes rather than destroys the heritage and beauty of this important region.

In addition to the interagency meeting, mountain leaders will meet with members of Congress and host a rally, titled “Our Water, Our Future,” to demand an end to mountaintop removal coal mining.

The “Our Water, Our Future” campaign was launched in 2013 to highlight the severe impacts that mountaintop removal has on water, as well as to show that clean water is vital to building the economic transition needed in the region.

“The coal industry is never going to be like it was in the 30s. The jobs have been on a decline since the beginning.  We need to realistically think of the future of Appalachia, and fix this mess,” said Teri Blanton, a volunteer with The Alliance for Appalachia and Kentuckians For The Commonwealth.  “We could employ ten times the number of workers just fixing the toxic pollution mountaintop removal has left behind. We need reinvestment in Appalachia – not just clean energy, but cleaning up the messes left behind by dirty energy.”

Recent spills, such as the West Virginia coal-washing chemical spill that left 300,000 people without access to safe water, have highlighted the economic impact of dirty water in the region.

Two of the Appalachian residents who will be in D.C. to meet with Obama administration officials and members of Congress, are Daile Boulis, of Loudendale, W.Va., and Ginger Halbert, of eastern Kentucky.

Boulis saw the impacts of the chemical spill firsthand. “Because I am lucky enough to still have safe well water, there was a constant stream of people coming to us for drinking water, showering and laundry during the crisis. Now they want to put a mountaintop removal mine by my house and put me on city water.”

Boulis lives near the Kanawha State Forest which is currently threatened by a mountaintop removal mine.Since the threats of the chemical spill and the mountaintop removal near her house, she has become active in the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and other groups. “I’d like to take Charleston city tap water to Washington, D.C. and see if they are willing to drink our city water. Because I still won’t.”

Halbert has already had her well in eastern Kentucky ruined by nearby mining activity. “We found out recently that our well water has toxic levels of beryllium, but state agencies have told us there is nothing they can do. We started getting rashes, my husband and daughter were treated for severe joint issues and other health problems, and we were told not to touch our well water. I had to forbid my son from washing his hands, and collect rain water just to mop the floor.  Water is a treasure you can’t appreciate until it’s gone – without water we have nothing to build a future with. The government needs to know they are just as responsible as the coal company for the complete lack of oversight on coal mining.”

Jane Branham is with Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards in Southwestern, Virginia. The group is currently campaigning to hold billionaire coal operator Jim Justice responsible for unpaid debts and pollution in their community. “The legacy of coal is that we are left with a broken economy and a polluted environment. We need federal oversight like never before as coal companies forfeit on bonds and leave their polluted mess behind.” said Branham, who will also be in D.C.. “The states have shown they aren’t going to do it. We need the federal agencies to step in.”

Mountaintop removal and other coal industry abuses have long compromised the waters of Central Appalachia. Over 2,000 miles of stream have been buried by mountaintop removal alone and mountaintop removal has destroyed 10% of the land in central Appalachia – more than 500 mountains. The severe impacts of mountaintop removal show the urgent need to end this practice as well as to begin building towards reclaiming the land and water for a healthier future.

The Alliance for Appalachia is a coalition of groups across the Central Appalachian region working to end mountaintop removal and other destructive coal industry practices, and to create a just and sustainable future for Appalachia. Members include Appalachian Voices, Coal River Mountain Watch, Gainesville Loves Mountains, Hands off Appalachia, Heartwood Forest Council, Highlander Research and Education Center, Keepers of the Mountains Foundation, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, Sierra Club Environmental Justice, The Stay Together Appalachian Youth Project, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, SouthWings and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.

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High-res photos and video available upon request (images from the event will be posted here)

Interviews available upon request. A complete press release plus fact sheets on the Five Year Anniversary of the MOU are located here.

Follow: #stopMTR, #AppRising, #OurWaterOurFuture

Telling Our Water Stories

Scroll through to see some of the amazing photographs shared for #OurWaterOurFuture

Appalachian residents have dealt with toxic water from mountaintop removal and other coal destruction for decades.

As part of the Our Water, Our Future, we asked our friends across the country to share why they fight for clean water. You can view these photos on Flickr or on our Facebook page.

Do you want to share too? Email photos to contact@theallianceforappalachia.org or share online tagged #ourwaterourfuture to tell the EPA what water means to you.

Our Water, Our Future Heads to DC!

It's past time to clean up this mess.

Folks across Appalachia are packing up to head to Washington, DC! We can’t wait to see some of you there.

On Monday September 8th, we’ll be sitting down with members of the Obama administration to discuss the changes we need to protect our water and our future for Appalachia. And on Tuesday, September 9th, we’ll be rallying at the White House with supporters from across the country!

Read our press release here.

Follow along at our facebook page to keep up with all the action!

Don’t Forget The Moonshine Mixer! 
Of course, we’re not all work and no play! We’re hosting a fundraiser as a celebration on Monday night.

Join Appalachians leading the fight against mountaintop removal coal mining and working towards a sustainable transition in Appalachia. It will be a great night to celebrate our work together!In addition, sample some traditional Appalachian beverages with the experts!Be sure to invite your friends to this fun event!

Looking for more ways to support this work? 

This year our budget is tighter than ever, even as community groups are busy taking action against the numerous toxic spills and water crises we have faced. Your donations go a long way in our grassroots work! Just $10 helps make our training for Appalachian leaders possible and $75 will provide a full food scholarship for one of our Appalachian leaders traveling to DC. Donate here to contribute to this event.

Statement of Solidarity

At The Alliance for Appalachia we recognize the systemic, institutionalized and individual racism that is still very alive in our nation today and we see our struggle for justice in the Appalachian mountains as bound up with struggles for liberation, self-determination, and freedom from police violence in communities of color within our mountains and across our globe. We express our solidarity with the community of Ferguson and all communities organizing against police violence and oppression.

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At The Alliance for Appalachia we work to build a world in which:

We, residents of mountain communities, are able to determine the futures of our communities; where political discourse is public, is welcomed, is impactful, and is free of corporate interests. We envision a world in which all people have access to clean water, clean air and a healthy land base–and a world in which these resources are owned and shared locally. We envision a world in which successful development is measured by the degree to which local economies are robust and lasting, and in which diversity, collaboration, safe working conditions and self-empowerment are pillars of those economies.

We know that progress toward such a vision is only possible through combating the violence of racism.

Along with our allies in the Climate Justice Alliance, we know that:

More than one person per day is killed by local police officers in the U.S. And according to data reported by local police agencies to the FBI, white police officers on average kill two Black people per week. Black men make up more than 50% of the youth under twenty years of age killed by police.

We encourage our friends in the mountains and our friends across the globe to contribute to support ongoing efforts in Ferguson by donating to the organizer fund: http://obs-onthemove.org/support-obs/

In Solidarity,

The Alliance for Appalachia