Alliance News September-October

News from The Alliance

Welcoming BWRK to the Alliance

The Alliance for Appalachia is just tickled pink as a possum’s nose to welcome our newest member organization,  Black Warrior Riverkeeper (BWRK). BWRK’s mission is to protect and restore the Black Warrior River watershed in the northern portion of Alabama, America’s #1 state for freshwater biodiversity. Patrolling waterways, educating the public, and holding polluters accountable for the past 15 years has made BWRK an important proponent of clean water throughout the basin, and their partnership with the Alliance is sure to benefit the entire Appalachian region as well.

Last year, after nearly a decade of grassroots campaigning, Black Warrior Riverkeeper won a huge victory over Alabama-based Drummond Corporation, when the company announced it would withdraw its request for state permits to strip mine 1,776 acres adjacent to the drinking water intake for 200,000 residents of Birmingham and the surrounding areas.

We’re so grateful for the important work of Black Warrior Riverkeeper and all our member organizations. With the addition of BWRK to the Alliance for Appalachia, our coalition now unites directly-impacted mining communities stretching from Pennsylvania to Alabama in opposition to mountaintop removal and other destructive coal industry practices, and in support of a just economic future for our region. Follow them on Facebook!

 Staff updates

The Alliance for Appalachia is hiring! The full-time Coordinator position is an integral role to the work of our dynamic coalition. See the full Hiring Announcement here and please share the posting. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, but priority will be given to those received before October 14.

With this announcement we also bid farewell to Alannah Tomich, who brought a fresh and intuitive perspective with all of her contributions to the Alliance.  She has moved on to the next part of her journey, but remains connected to our work and dedicated to social justice advocacy. Thank you Alannah– we miss you already!

In the interim, if you have questions about our work or the staff transition, contact


News from our partners

October 17 Rally to Save Coal River Mountain

From CRMW: “Stand with Coal River Mountain Watch and friends to tell the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection to end mountaintop removal coal mining on Coal River Mountain and everywhere. This ongoing process endangers public health with airborne blasting dust, pollutes streams, increases flooding, and deprives communities of traditional use of the mountains and forests. Join us Monday, Oct. 17, at noon at the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection headquarters at 601 57th St. SE, Charleston, WV 25304.” Click here for more info on the rally.

Tennessee Citizens Participate in Bond Proceedings

This summer, representatives of Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM), Tennessee Sierra Club, and Tennessee Clean Water Network engaged in bond release proceedings for four mine sites in Claiborne County.  The groups participated in the bond release public input process, most importantly because they have members who live downstream of each permit area who would be negatively affected if the sites are not adequately reclaimed. Participants of the ongoing project include members from the affected communities and organizational volunteers and staff, all of whom have been involved in various steps of citizens engagement.


Through the process, they have learned how to monitor for bond releases, how to prepare for the bond proceeding, and how to request a bond inspection. Not only that, but the groups actively participated in the inspection by taking photographs, reporting on vegetation growth or lack thereof, logging GPS coordinates, and taking water samples. Group leaders said that part of what made the tours such a success was this division of roles, which allowed participants to engage with various levels of experience. After the inspections, SOCM, TN Sierra Club, and TCWN submitted comments in anticipation of the bond release. They are sharing what they’ve learned with other member groups of the Alliance through our Federal Strategy and Economic Transition teams, in hopes of supporting other citizen groups engaging in bond proceedings in the future.

Prosperity, Potential, Potential: A recap from the annual Brushy Fork Institute

Adam Malle attended the Brushy Fork Institute on behalf of Southern Appalachia Mountain Stewards (SAMS) and the Alliance for Appalachia this year. The story below is a recap from his time in Berea:

Let’s will begin with a little bit of background about myself. My name is Adam Malle, and as of March of this year I am a newly minted board member with the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS) in Wise County, VA. Our organization works to fight Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining in Southwest Virginia. We recently succeeded in a 10 year fight to save Ison Rock Ridge a mountain threatened by mountaintop removal coal mining in the town of Appalachia, VA and settled a lawsuit with A&G Coalthat will assist in the remediation of two coal tipple sites in Lee County and the City of Norton, VA. We are members in a coalition of environmental organizations that make up the Alliance for Appalachia (AFA) where I am newly serving on the steering committee as the representative for SAMS. It is through the AFA that I was given the opportunity to attend the Brushy Fork Institute.

This being my first excursion to the Brushy Fork Institute, I came to Berea College with high hopes not knowing exactly what I was in for. I chose the “Beginning Grant Writing” track out of my own personal interest in the subject area and to help SAMS expand our fundraising/grant writing capacity. However, grant writing knowledge was not the only thing I gained from my experience at Brushy Fork.

During the three days of the annual Institute I gained a renewed sense of the extremely diverse yet interconnected grassroots efforts to progress our Appalachian region and a greater understanding of the importance of building leadership capacity and knowledge among our region’s people. It is easy to feel isolated working in rural communities, but coming to a place like the Brushy Fork Institute and connecting with people and organizations from all over Appalachian Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia puts on display the optimism and resilience that drives us all, on a local level, to build a better, sustainable and independent future for all of us.

I came to Brushy Fork with the expectation of increasing my knowledge to further the goals of SAMS & AFA and I did. Christy Bailey’s “Beginning Grant Writing” track took my cursory understanding of grant writing and gave me a foundation to expand upon. I now have a direction and the confidence to continue learning these new skills and ultimately increase the effectiveness of our organizations work. But the experience was much more than that. It was an exercise in hope, optimism, inclusion, expansion of knowledge and a sense of connectedness with our common goal of building a better future. Brushy Fork is truly a family and I hope I get the opportunity to participate many times more in the coming years.

Movement Momentum– let’s keep it up!

We Stand with Standing Rock

The Alliance and our members stand in solidarity with the indigenous led movement of resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Bill McCabe is a friend of the Alliance and a leader in the stand against mountaintop removal coal mining.  His message to the water warriors on the plains of the Dakotas, speaks to our common struggles and commitment to protect our water, our future. Read the full letter of solidarity here.

From the Indigenous Environmental network (IEN): “The U.S. Court of Appeals Sunday night [October 9] rejected the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for a temporary injunction to halt construction of the Dakota Access pipeline thru traditional unceded Oceti Sakowin treaty lands near the Missouri River. The three-judge panel issued its decision Sunday after hearing oral arguments from lawyers representing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and pipeline developers Energy Transfer Partners earlier this week. The decision was based on a specific request by the tribe for the court to continue a work stoppage order on the pipeline within 20 miles on either side of the Missouri River.”

65+ Attend Appalachian Land Ownership Study Convening

Citizens around Appalachia and beyond– including academic and legal scholars, students, community leaders and organizers– attended the first planning meeting for a new Appalachian Land Ownership study that aims to update the landmark study published in 1981. Our friends at the Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN) co-convened the meeting as an opportunity to conceptualize the scope, methods, and process needed to embark on the collaborative research project, which aims to investigate how land use, ownership and tax revenue patterns impact our vision for a just transition.

While we are still exploring how we can support this effort, we see an opportunity for the Alliance and our member groups to play a huge role in ensuring the project remains community-based and citizen-driven from the outset. We see this project as an opportunity to build the foundation of a campaign to promote systemic change by addressing the longstanding challenges association with a land ownership model that has perpetuated environmental and economic injustice. Stay tuned!