Almost Done! One more way you can help in 2014!

We couldn’t do what we do without you — it’s as simple as that.

All year long, you have lent your voice to the fight against mountaintop removal. In June, you backed a delegation of Appalachian leaders in Washington, fighting off bad bills and gathering important information about upcoming rulemakings from the Obama Administration. In September, you supported dozens of movement leaders in DC at a critical interagency meeting and an amazing Our Water, Our Future day of action. And earlier this month, you helped spread the word about Appalachian Leaders’ new Grassroots Progress Report, outlining a plan of action for the last two years of the Obama Administration to protect Our Water and Our Future.

Now we are asking you to be a part of one more thing this year: making our work in 2015 possible.

As we close in on the 2015 public comment periods of critical water-related rulemakings, it’s crucial that we begin the year on strong footing–and we can do it with you help. Click here to make a tax-deductible contribution today.

Whether you’re able to contribute $10, $25, $50 or more, every dollar of your holiday contribution goes directly to groups working to end mountaintop removal coal mining.

Help us end 2014 by donating to end mountaintop removal.

Thank you for such an incredible year!

Join Us: Measure Obama’s Legacy and Build Grassroots Power

 

Grassroots Progress Report Evaluates Obama’s Legacy in Appalachia

As we near the end of 2014, it seems yet another year has passed without significant action from The Obama Administration to end the worst abuses of mountaintop removal.

Five years ago, 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. Last week, The Alliance for Appalachia released a report evaluating the progress that the Obama Administration has and has not made in the last 5 years regarding the MOU and other big promises to protect Appalachian communities.

Much work is needed to complete the MOU process, to ensure effective regulatory enforcement in our region, to create sound rule-makings, to strengthen citizen engagement and to invest in a bright future for Central Appalachia. Our coalition of organizations represents thousands of citizens who are ready to work. This report is an invitation for the Obama Administration to do the same.

“This is about the long term health of our people; it’s about the future of our economy. It’s not just this generation, but future generations. Inaction should not be the legacy of the Obama Administration,” says Davie Randsdell, Kentucky native and contributor to the report.

You can find coverage of the report on Louisville Public Radio, SNL Financial, Eco-watch, Huffington Post and the Lexington Herald and you help turn this report into action by lending your voice here.

You can also check out great quotes from our recent press conference on our Facebook page – share them with your friends! 

The Alliance for Appalachia attends the Building Equity and Alignment Gathering

Over 50% of “environmental” funding and resources go to 2% of “environmental” organizations; the other 50% of funding and resources go to the other 98% of organizations, mostly base-building groups. This fact was the seed from which a new national project called the Building Equity and Alignment for Impact initiative grew!.

Building Equity and Alignment for Impact (BEAI) is a unique, movement-building initiative involving representatives of the environmental justice grassroots organizing sector, national environmental organizations and the philanthropic sector who have come together because we know that in order for our organizations to have impact, we must lift up the leadership, achievements, and importance of grassroots organizations; the value of principled collaboration between grassroots and big green groups; and, the reality that in order to build a powerful movement that can effectively address the most critical environmental crises of our times, we need to significantly increase resources to the grassroots organizing sector.

We are honored to be a part of this visionary work and to have attended the BEAI strategy meeting this November. We see this effort as an important piece of building the sort of power we need to strengthen our environmental justice movement.

AppFellows Gather to Map the Sustainable Energy Landscape in our Region
The AppFellows Program hosted it’s second regional gathering December 4-5, Strengthening Sustainable Energy, at the historic Benham Schoolhouse Inn in Harlan County, KY. This gathering focused on conversations around sustainable energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and legacy costs of energy production with an eye towards economic transition. AppFellow Joshua Outsey working with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, MACED, the City of Benham and COAP (Christian Outreach with Appalachian People) highlighted the exciting Benham Energy Project, where one former coal camp has the opportunity to weatherize homes and choose responsible energy sources after discovering their contract with Kentucky Utilities will expire soon.

Other AppFellows who presented their work at the gathering were: Kendall Bilbrey and Eric Dixon’s AML Project (The Alliance for Appalachia and ACLC), Tyler Cannon (OVEC), Carol Davey (ACEnet), Tom Torres (University of Tennessee), and their host communities. Topics moved from basics of the abandoned mine lands fund to highlighting savings and success after West Virginia businesses make the switch to being energy efficient. Aside from the fellows, there was a large representation from Central Appalachian organizations, agencies, and businesses working towards a sustainable energy climate here in our mountains.

Updates from the Movement: 

We Won’t Stand for Corruption! Our member groups are taking action against falsified water pollution reports. 

As the New York Times recently reported, Alliance member groups Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Appalachian Voices and other allies are threatening to sue coal company Frasure Creek unless the state of Kentucky acts on the tens of thousands of violations the coal company has racked up.

“Frasure Creek’s actions — and the Cabinet’s failures to act — undermine the regulatory framework that safeguards the people and waters of Kentucky” says the letter threatening the lawsuit. Appalachian citizen groups have given the state 60 days to act.

Proposed Expansion of Largest Mountaintop Removal Mine in the Country


photo courtesy of OVEC’s Vivan Stockman and Southwings

The Hobet Mine near Spurlockville, W.Va., is the largest mountaintop removal mine in the country — and the coal company is trying to expand it further! Now is your chance tosend a letter to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection in defense of the mountains, streams, and people that would be harmed by this expansion proposal.

For 29 years, some of the most destructive coal mining has occurred in the Mud River watershed. The new permit could allow for the destruction of 470 acres and include 30 waste water discharges. The permit further encroaches on the Big Ugly Wildlife Management Area. Thirty three homes will be within a half mile of blasting, dumping and water pollution discharge if this site is allowed to move forward.

Mountain Leader and Family Featured in New Video


We are storytellers and last month, the story of one of our movements leaders, Donna Branham of Mingo County, WV was captured in a new short film.

“We are somebody. My family is somebody. We deserve to be treated with respect and honor,” says Donna.See the story of Donna and her family here.


Photo credit: The New Yorker
News Updates:
Massey CEO Don Blankenship Finally Indicted

Four years after the Upper Big Branch explosion, longtime Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has been indicted on charges that he violated federal mine safety laws, creating the dangerous conditions that led to the deaths of 29 miners.

Coal River Mountain Watch Hopes to Open New Judy Bonds Center

Judy Bonds helped to found Coal River Mountain Watch in 1998. From that point on she dedicated her life to protecting her community from the destruction brought on by the coal industry. Today, CRMW occupies a historic two-story building in Naoma, West Virginia, just a few miles from her old house and on the front lines of the resistance against mountaintop removal. That building has come up for sale and CRMW is working to purchase and preserve this wonderful space which has played such an important role in this community and this struggle. You can donate to help make it a reality.
Photo credit: Earth Quaker Action Team

EQAT take action to Push PNC to Divest from MTR
On Saturday, December 6, approximately 300 people participated in over 30 actions in 12 states and the District of Columbia to demand that PNC Bank stop financing companies engaged in mountaintop removal coal mining.

Coal Costs Keep Adding Up
This op-ed in Kentucky catalogs the great costs of the coal industry, from miners safety and health to environmental tolls.

Photo credit: Kentuckians for the Commonwealth

Judge Rejects Deals Between Kentucky Officials and Coal Company
As Kentuckians for the Commonwealth reports: “The Franklin Circuit Court on Monday issued two long-awaited orders rejecting settlement deals between the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and Frasure Creek Mining arising from the coal company’s thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act from 2008 through 2011.”

Yet Another Study Shows the Dangerous Impacts of MTR
Michigan State University confirms, yet again, that mountaintop removal can damage waterways downstream of mine sites.

Grassroots Report Released

As we near the end of 2014, it seems yet another year has passed without significant action from The Obama Administration to end the worst abuses of mountaintop removal.

hillbillies deserve clean water

Members of The Alliance for Appalachia prepare to meet with White House Staff to discuss the need to end mountaintop removal and clean up the toxic legacy coal has left behind.

Despite the disastrous coal cleaning chemical spill in January that left 300,000 without access to clean water in West Virginia, despite a new study that links mountaintop removal to lung cancer, and despite recent accusations from local groups that a Kentucky mining company has violated the Clean Water Act nearly 28,000 times without meaningful repercussion, the Obama administration continues to drag their heels on desperately needed rule-making processes and has even cut off funding for a USGS study on the health impacts of mountaintop removal.

That’s why citizen groups are releasing a Grassroots Citizen’s Report on Mountaintop Removal today that lays out the stakes for the administration and tells them that the time for action is now. Read our press release about the report here.

Support these groups by contacting the administration and demanding action today!

ceq meeting by elaine tanner

Members of The Alliance for Appalachia meet with Obama administration staff to discuss the issues facing Appalachia.

The  grassroots citizen’s report  assesses the work the Obama administration has done in the region and provides recommendations for the final two years of Obama’s tenure.  You can check out a one page summary of the report and access the full report here.

A quick summary of the report is this: We need urgent action from the Obama administration to protect mountain communities from the impacts of mountaintop removal and to begin planning for a sustainable future for Appalachia.

While we have successfully pressured this administration in the last five years to take actions that will help protect Appalachian communities from mountaintop removal, there is much more to be done.

In fact, there are four key actions the administration can take this year that will greatly impact the future health of our Appalachian communities and allow the Administration to follow through on its promises.

Add your voice to ensure that the Obama administration takes action!

Grassroots Progress Report Evaluates Obama’s Legacy in Appalachia

The report discusses the Obama Administration’s successes and shortfalls in addressing the impacts of mountaintop removal and investing in a just and sustainable economy in Appalachia

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CONTACT

Katey Lauer, (304) 546-8473 Katey.Lauer@theallianceforappalachia.org

Invitation to Teleconference:

On Wednesday, December 3rd at 11 am EST The Alliance for Appalachia will be hosting a press conference via teleconference to discuss the report, the history of the Obama administration’s progress regarding mountaintop removal, as well as recommendations and next steps. For call-in information, contact Dana@Theallianceforappalachia.org

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Following a tumultuous year for the coal industry, including the disastrous coal-chemical spill that left 300,000 without access to clean water in West Virginia, and increasing layoffs as coal mining continues to decline, a coalition of Appalachian citizen groups are demanding increased action from the Obama Administration.

The Alliance for Appalachia is releasing a Grassroots Progress Report (linked here) that assesses the work the Obama administration has done in the region and provides recommendations for the final two years of Obama’s tenure. The coalition feels it is a critical time for the administration to seriously engage in the extensive health and environmental costs of coal in the region, as well as address the urgent need for economic transition.

In addition to presenting suggested actions for the administration, the report outlines repeated failures by state agencies to enforce the law. This report comes on the heels of accusations from local groups that a Kentucky mining company has violated the Clean Water Act nearly 28,000 times, likely the largest non-compliance of the law in its 42-year history, while state regulators continue to give only slaps on the wrists.  The lack of accountability for rampant violations of the Clean Water Act and other laws are one reason that citizen groups are calling for urgent federal attention to the issue.

The quiet cut-off of funding for a USGS Study on the health impacts of mountaintop removal and continued delayed in rule-making processes, indicate that the administration is ignoring the issue, despite new studies linking mountaintop removal to increased rates of cancer and growing national concerns over climate change and water shortages.  Groups want the administration to address serious lapses in regulation, enforcement, and oversight of mountaintop removal mining operations, and to engage in collaborative dialogue around solutions and mitigation for adverse impacts caused by mountaintop removal mining operations, as well as to discuss what’s next for 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.”

In addition to planning for an Appalachian future with fewer and fewer coal jobs, the coalition is seeking more permanent protections and concrete commitments for what the agencies can accomplish by the end of 2016.  In September, leaders from mountain communities attended an interagency meeting with representatives of the Obama administration.  The goal of this meeting was to address this progress of the administration towards promises made in a 2009 memorandum. 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.  Groups were disappointed with the lack of initiative shown by agency representatives in the five years since the memo was created.

“The meeting we thought we were going to have wasn’t what happened at all. The administration representatives said they wanted to ‘start a dialogue,’ but we thought the dialogue had started years ago in 2009.  This meeting should have been the culmination of years of work, not the beginning,” said Davie Ransdell, a former coal reclamation technician who now volunteers with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and the Alliance for Appalachia.

The grassroots report is one way community groups are following up with meeting attendees. Suggested administrative changes include a Conductivity Rule and strong Selenium Standard from the US Environmental Protection Agency and a strong Stream Protection Rule and Mine Fill Rule from the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation Enforcement.

“Now is the time to get these policies on the books so future administrations can have something to work with,” said Ann League of Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment.

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 technologies, as well as to create a just and sustainable future for Appalachia. Members include Appalachian Voices, Coal River Mountain Watch, Gainesville Loves Mountains, Hands Off Appalachia, Heartwood, 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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