July-August Newsletter

News from The Alliance

July Steering Meeting and Team Summits

July was a busy month around The Alliance while we geared up to host a Steering Meeting, two team summit convenings, and a 10-year anniversary celebration in Hindman, KY at the beautiful Hindman Settlement School.  

At the Steering Meeting, our member organization representatives came together to share collective space, recall early Alliance history at our 10-year juncture, and strategize our next 6-months work and beyond.  The Steering Committee approved a new standing team– the Leadership Development Team. This team’s work plan already includes a six-month facilitation mentorship program and plans for an anti-oppression/collective liberation training.

Takeaways from the Federal Strategy team summit include a renewed commitment to work on bonding-related research and ideas around how to navigate the presidential election and first 100 days of a new administration.  The Economic Transition Team’s summit focused on AML priorities, including continued work on the POWER Plus Plan and related legislation, and discussion around how this team is going to effectively share our collective knowledge with ours and other communities working towards a just future.

New Alliance Member Organization- Welcome CCJ!

In other Steering news, this summer we welcomed the Center for Coalfield Justice as a new member organization of The Alliance.  CCJ was formed as the “Tri-State Citizens Mining Network” in 1994 by a coalition of grassroots groups and individuals concerned about the effects coal mining had on communities and the environment. The people involved recognized the need to work together to build a strong voice in the coalfield community. Tri-State was re-organized into Center for Coalfield Justice in 2007 and has since expanded to work on fossil fuel extraction issues generally.

CCJ, based in Southwest Pennsylvania, has worked with The Alliance and its members for years. There are no MTR sites in Pennsylvania.  However, citizens there are dealing with other harmful coal practices, like long-wall mining and legacy mining issues.  Our shared experiences lead to collective learning and collective action, for the betterment of our region; we’re excited to be working together towards a healthy Appalachia.  Learn more About CCJ.

Celebrating 10 Years

We capped off our meetings with another 10th Anniversary Celebration, where we came together with food, music and memories. Check out our good-times reel…

Capture5

Thank you Joanne Golden Hill Photography for the photos!

& Congratulations to Bill Price– the lucky winner of the Appalachian activist quilt!

 

News from our partners

Environmental Groups Secure Settlement from Coal Mine Owner to Restore Mining Sites Across West Virginia- news from OVEC

When the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund (VCLF) purchased coal mines from Patriot Coal during the company’s bankruptcy last year, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Sierra Club, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, represented by Appalachian Mountain Advocates, succeeded in making sure that mine reclamation obligations were not foregone. The $6 million settlement will fund pilot reforestation and stream restoration projects on mine scarred land in West Virginia.

 

Movement Momentum– let’s keep it up!

OSMRE commissions health study on the effects of MTR

At the request of the State of WV, OSMRE will fund an independent examination of existing research concerning the potential correlation between increased human health risks and living near surface coal mine sites in Central Appalachia. Our communities don’t need another health stud to prove what we already know, but to OSMRE address the issues is better late than never.  See the press release here.

Victory: Appeals Court Upholds EPA Veto of MTR Permit

U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. affirms district court; finds U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reasonably and lawfully decided that huge mountaintop removal mine in WV would cause unacceptable environmental harm. Learn more from EarthJustice

Mark your calendars for the Central Appalachia Brownfields Conference

The inaugural Central Appalachia Brownfields conference will take place at the Marriott Town Center September 7-8 in Charleston, West Virginia.  The event will include sessions covering all aspects of brownfields redevelopment, interactive workshops, specialty training on remediation, and two networking receptions for community leaders, development specialists, entrepreneurs and project planners. For more information: http://wvbrownfields.org/2016-conference/  

Psst– Alliance representatives are also part of the presenter line-up! Get excited by checking out the Draft Agenda, then Register Here.

OSMRE to look at new rules to change self-bonding

Director of the Federal Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), Joe Pizarchik: saying the agency will start making a new rule to end the failing policy of “self-bonding”, which lets companies neglect the cost of mine reclamation, and push the burden to our tax-paying communities. See the announcement here. & Read the Press Release here.

June Newsletter

Protect Our Water, Reclaim Our Future- An Event Recap

Shout out from the Alliance to everyone who helped plan and execute our POWROF 2016 lobby event in Washington, DC, which was a major success.  By the numbers:

  • The Alliance hosted nearly 40 mountain leaders for 3 days of advocacy and empowerment.
  • We attended 35+ hill meetings with Congressional representatives to show our support of the RECLAIM Act, which may have contributed to the gain of 2 additional cosponsors while we were in town– Congressmen Roe (TN) and Polis (CO).  
  • We also had meetings with 8 different federal agencies and executive administration offices that have key roles in protecting our communities from environmental injustice and poor regulation standards.  
  • For at least 12 of our attendees, this was the first time speaking to agency and congressional representatives in DC.

_DSC5995

When asked what the most powerful part of the trip was for them, one of the participants said, “I am always in awe of DC, and feel very fortunate to just experience being near this much power. But actually being inside senate and house buildings and interacting/taking part in processes, leaves me feeling like each citizen has a voice, and we can be heard.”

Todd Waterman is a volunteer with Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, an Alliance member organization based in Tennessee; the following excerpts are from an article that he wrote for the SOCM Sentinel about his experience at POWROF:

I jumped at the chance to go! If I’d learned one thing as an activist, it’s that saying “yes” to something I’ve never done before can be a tremendously empowering experience, and that so long as I don’t let my mistakes tell me I’m not good enough, they will tell me how to be better. If I had a lot to learn, that meant I’d learn a lot.”  [. . .]

“Research says in the US only the very rich influence legislation. Until we achieve campaign finance reform, lawmakers must keep their campaign donors happy. But I prefer to be optimistic. Activism, like voting, is a matter of faith, of humbly doing what we can knowing together we are strong. We progressives always win in the end, even if it’s often two steps forward and 1½ steps back: Democracy, Emancipation, Suffrage, Social Security, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, LGBT Rights. Can you name anyone who is revered for blocking progress whose time had come? We’re trying to forget the guy who said, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” But will we ever forget the guy who said, “I have a dream,” and then put his life on the line to make it come true? I hope we can convince more of our lawmakers to become not the villains of the future but its heroes.

Together, we too shall overcome some day. I’m honored to dream with you.”

To read the full article, click here.

Citizens’ Petition to Amend Self-Bonding Rules, OSMRE seeking public comments

In early March, WildEarth Guardians petitioned the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) to amend its regulations on financial assurances to ensure that companies and their subsidiaries with a history of financial insolvency no longer be allowed to self-bond coal mining operations.  Now, OSMRE is accepting public comments on the petition.  

Once our mountains are destroyed by mountaintop removal, no one can put them back. However, coal operators have a responsibility to clean up the mess – otherwise our communities are left surrounded by toxic eyesores and dangerous water.

Bonding is the process by which coal companies provide financial assurance that they will reclaim the lands they have damaged by mining. Because of weak and inconsistent laws surrounding this practice, the public is at risk for having to pick up the tab for the immense destruction of mountaintop removal and other damaging coal mining practices, while the coal industry keeps the profits.

The most irresponsible approach is called self bonding – or when a coal company simply promises they will reclaim our land after mining. And if the coal company can’t clean up their mess? The taxpayer is left with the enormous burden of cleaning up after their mess. Companies must set aside bonds for the full cost of reclamation to ensure adequate dollars for reclamation.

The coal industry is laughing all the way to the bank, and we’re left with dirty water and unstable lands.  We need you to comment today to protect our communities from this outrageous practice.

The OSMRE is taking steps to limit self bonding – and we need people like you to speak up to make sure the laws are as strong as possible. The public comment period is open until July 20You may submit comments by any of the following methods:

  • Sierra Club Action Link
  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. The petition has been assigned Docket ID: OSM-2016-0006. Please follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
  • Mail: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Administrative Record, Room 252 SIB, 1951 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20240. Please include the Docket ID: OSM-2016-0006.

Appalachian Voices Publishes Preliminary Report on Innovative Mine Reclamation Project

Alliance member organization, Appalachian Voices is partnering with Downstream Strategies and Coal Mining Engineering Services to identify and analyze Abandoned Mine Land (AML) sites in far Southwest Virginia for site cleanup and redevelopment opportunities.  The goals of the project are to, 1) Demonstrate the need for and potential positive impact of the RECLAIM Act in the Southwest Virginia coalfields as the proposed legislation moves through Congress; 2) Utilize results to accelerate Virginia’s deployment of RECLAIM and other funds; and 3) Promote AML projects that are forward thinking and adaptive to the changing economic realities in far Southwest Virginia.  

The partners are examining sites individually to assess their suitability for economic activities such as agriculture and agroforestry, commercial and industrial development, energy infrastructure and recreation.  The approach includes analyzing existing resources (like community interest and capacity, and proximity to population centers, transportation, utilities infrastructure, markets, etc.) around potential sites to locate the most promising locations.

Capture

The full report, which will provide a general analysis of the 15 most promising sites identified based on clean-up cost estimates and economic impact, will be released in the early Fall of this year.  Phase 2 of the project will move the sites with highest potential towards shovel-ready status, meaning the plans are in place and the project is ready to explore funding sources.  From the report, “Despite oft-quoted from statistics about the region, there are numerous, diverse bright spots on the map of redevelopment, from commercial and industrial projects to agriculture and recreation.”

Appalachian Voices has been sharing their progress with other organizations in the Alliance and throughout Central Appalachia, providing a template and useful reference guide for other states interested in undergoing a similar process.    

Learn more about the project here.

Celebrating 10 Years in the Region– You’re Invited!

The Alliance for Appalachia is hosting an event in honor of the organization’s diamond anniversary. We are excited to celebrate 10 years of grassroots coalition building in Central Appalachia, 10 years of pursuing our mission by working together to fight the abuses of mountaintop removal and other harmful coal technologies, and 10 years of envisioning a healthy, sustainable Appalachia.  

We hope you’ll join us for food, drinks, music, and story sharing among friends and allies in the movement!  

Save the Date 10 years- Hindman

RSVP Here: Facebook event, overnight housing request

May Newsletter

We’re headed back to DC to

Protect Our Water, Reclaim Our Future

The Alliance for Appalachia will be hosting an event to “Protect Our Water, Reclaim Our Future” (acronym pronounced POWR-OF) in Washington, D.C. June 5-8.

We’re bringing over 30 new and experienced leaders from across Central Appalachia. Big thank you to our volunteers and staff who have been working around the clock to schedule dozens of meeting, arrange travel, plan meals and plan an amazing party.

Why are we going? 

1) Because mountaintop removal is still happening. We’ll meet with federal agencies to reiterate the need for real protections from current and future mining, and to discuss the need for reclamation and strong bonding programs.

2) Because we need to reclaim our lands to build a new, healthy economy. We’ll urge Congress to invest in the future of Appalachia by supporting the POWER Plus Plan and passing the RECLAIM Act.

3) Because mountain residents are experts of their own lives. This trip will build leadership and bring community residents to the decision-making table by providing the space to effectively participate in policy making that shapes the future of our region.

4) Because we want to celebrate!  We’re excited to commemorate 10 years as The Alliance for Appalachia with our friends and allies!

Can you help support this important trip? Donate here to help provide scholarships.

You’re Invited!
Celebrating Our 10th Anniversary In Washington, DC

Come celebrate and enjoy live music, a silent auction and fundraiser, homemade Appalachia-inspired food and drinks, and a walk down memory lane!

The Alliance for Appalachia was formed in 2006 with the goals of ending mountaintop removal coal mining, halting other destructive coal technologies and creating a just and sustainable Appalachia.

You’re invited to our 10 Year Anniversary party that we will be hosting in Washington, D.C. during our Protect Our Water, Reclaim Our Future lobby trip.

When: Tuesday, June 76-9:00pm

Where: Stewart Mott House– 122 Maryland Ave NE, D.C.

RSVP for the event on Facebook – and share with your friends! Not on Facebook? You can learn more about the event on our website as well.

We are also having a celebration for our volunteers and members in Central Appalachia– If you can’t make it to DC, or want to celebrate with us again, come to Hindman, KY on July 13th!

Self Bonding Comment Period Opens

We’re working with a national coalition of groups to organize a strong response to a new comment period from OSMRE.

Bonding is the process by which coal companies provide financial assurance that they will reclaim the lands they have damaged by mining. The most irresponsible approach is called self bonding – or when a coal company simply promises they will reclaim our land after mining. And if the coal company can’t clean up their mess? The taxpayer is left with the enormous burden of cleaning up after their mess.

Stay tuned to learn more about this process and to comment. We’ll need as many people as possible to respond to make this important rulemaking as strong as possible.

Headed to DC: Protect Our Water, Reclaim Our Future

We’re headed back to DC to

Protect Our Water, Reclaim Our Future

The Alliance for Appalachia will be hosting an event to “Protect Our Water, Reclaim Our Future” (acronym pronounced POWR-OF) in Washington, D.C. June 5-8.

We’re bringing over 30 new and experienced leaders from across Central Appalachia. Big thank you to our volunteers and staff who have been working around the clock to schedule dozens of meeting, arrange travel, plan meals and plan an amazing party.

Why are we going? 

1) Because mountaintop removal is still happening. We’ll meet with federal agencies to reiterate the need for real protections from current and future mining, and to discuss the need for reclamation and strong bonding programs.

2) Because we need to reclaim our lands to build a new, healthy economy. We’ll urge Congress to invest in the future of Appalachia by supporting the POWER Plus Plan and passing the RECLAIM Act.

3) Because mountain residents are experts of their own lives. This trip will build leadership and bring community residents to the decision-making table by providing the space to effectively participate in policy making that shapes the future of our region.

4) Because we want to celebrate!  We’re excited to commemorate 10 years as The Alliance for Appalachia with our friends and allies!

Can you help support this important trip? Donate here to help provide scholarships.

You’re Invited!
Celebrating Our 10th Anniversary In Washington, DC

Come celebrate and enjoy live music, a silent auction and fundraiser, homemade Appalachia-inspired food and drinks, and a walk down memory lane!

The Alliance for Appalachia was formed in 2006 with the goals of ending mountaintop removal coal mining, halting other destructive coal technologies and creating a just and sustainable Appalachia.

You’re invited to our 10 Year Anniversary party that we will be hosting in Washington, D.C. during our Protect Our Water, Reclaim Our Future lobby trip.

When: Tuesday, June 76-9:00pm

Where: Stewart Mott House– 122 Maryland Ave NE, D.C.

RSVP for the event on Facebook – and share with your friends! Not on Facebook? You can learn more about the event on our website as well.

We are also having a celebration for our volunteers and members in Central Appalachia– If you can’t make it to DC, or want to celebrate with us again, come to Hindman, KY on July 13th! Learn more about that event here.

powerplusplan.org

Click here to sign the petition!

The POWER+ (Plus) Plan is a $10 billion initiative to assist communities struggling with the decline of the coal industry in growing and diversifying their economies.

The Plan, which reflects a number of policy ideas that originated in coal country, was proposed by the White House and currently sits before Congress. The POWER (Partnerships for Opportunities in Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Plus Plan consists of four pillars:

Creating new jobs and development opportunities by reclaiming abandoned coal mines

Ensuring the health and retirement of coal miners and their families

Supporting economic diversification and job creation, &

Deploying carbon capture and sequestration technologies

The Alliance has been working hard to move the POWER + Plan forward by passing local resolutions of support, tracking legislation and sharing what we learn with our community members so that they can talk with their Congressional representatives.  We’ve seen the detrimental effects of coal on our communities. Now, we’re working to support a sustainable and just transition for our region; we think that POWER+ legislation could provide the supplemental bolster that our region needs to strengthen our communities and diversify our economy.

Our friends and allies at the Power+ for the People website have created a statement of support that you can sign on to! Adding your name shows that you support passage of the POWER+ Plan and encourage representatives in Congress to seek passage of this Plan through the federal legislative process.

Save the Date to Celebrate With Us!


Save the Date to celebrate with us!

The Alliance for Appalachia is hosting two events in honor of the organization’s diamond anniversary. We are excited to celebrate 10 years of grassroots coalition building in Central Appalachia, 10 years of pursuing our mission by working together to fight the abuses of mountaintop removal and other harmful coal technologies, and 10 years of envisioning a healthy, sustainable Appalachia.

We hope you’ll join us for food, drinks, music, and story sharing among friends and allies in the movement!

Our first party is in Washington, DC on Tuesday, June 7, from 6-9 pm at the Stewart Mott House. RSVP and share with all your friends on Facebook!

We will have another anniversary celebration in Hindman, KY on July 13th – please RSVP for that party below and share the Facebook page with all your friends!

April News Wrap-Up

12961544_1139920192699042_5692644799131422980_n
Save the Date to celebrate with us!

The Alliance for Appalachia is hosting an event in honor of the organization’s diamond anniversary. We are excited to celebrate 10 years of grassroots coalition building in Central Appalachia, 10 years of pursuing our mission by working together to fight the abuses of mountaintop removal and other harmful coal technologies, and 10 years of envisioning a healthy, sustainable Appalachia.

We hope you’ll join us for food, drinks, music, and story sharing among friends and allies in the movement!

This invitation is for our 10 year anniversary party that we will be hosting in DC during our June lobby trip. We will have another anniversary celebration in Hindman, KY on July 13th!

Protect Our Water, Reclaim Our Future

We have finalized the details for our big trip to Washington, DC this year! It’s time to recruit for the “Protect Our Water, Reclaim Our Future” trip to Washington DC, Sunday, June 5-Wednesday, June 8th.

This year we have two main areas of work: We’ll be having a series of smaller meetings with federal agencies (OSMRE, EPA, etc) to discuss strengthening water protection and ending mountaintop removal.

We also will be lobbying in Congress on the RECLAIM Act. We’ll have training on the issues when we arrive in DC, we’re hoping to bring around 30 new and experienced leaders from the region.

Any questions? Want to see about how to attend? Contact Alannah@TheAllianceforAppalachia.org

_MG_3272 (2)

Strategizing for a Powerful Year

The Alliance for Appalachia hosts movement roundtables several times a year, when key leaders gather to set our strategy for the coming months. Representatives from Alliance member organizations traveled from around the region to the historic Highlander Center in New Market, TN for our Spring Steering Meeting The steering committee gave direction on the June Lobby trip, the bonding research project and approved a proposal for a new permanent Leadership Development Team.

We also welcomed our new Economic Transition staff member Lyndsay Tarus, and began a new tradition of spotlighting the member organizations from the area–in this case Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM) and Highlander Center.

Successful Grassroots Policy Training

The Alliance hosted a Grassroots Policy Training in early April that was a huge success with nearly 40 participants! The goal of this training was to educate our members and allies across the region on how to participate in regional and national politics, and especially how and why citizen involvement is so important in shaping policy. The training was designed to collaborate around four issue areas:

-Laws, policies and rules: different kinds of government regulations,

-Agencies that influence environmental policy in Appalachia: Who are they and what are their responsibilities

-Review of specific policies including SMCRA, Stream Protection Rule, POWER+ and others; and

-How to advocate for your issues, including building strategy and moving forward campaigns

Nestled in the hills of East Tennessee, the Highlander Center provided a special space for workshops and idea sharing among those who attended.  The panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains served as a constant reminder of why we gather to collaborate– to protect, serve, and advocate on behalf of the mountain communities that make up the Appalachian region, our home.  Our hope is that the training participants apply what they learned as they advocate for issues important to them.

RECLAIM Webinar Shares Important Updates on New Legislation

We work hard to be your go-to source for all things POWER+. The Alliance teams are busy tracking the development of the POWER Plus Plan and accompanying legislation.  One major piece of the overall vision is a call to reclaim abandoned mine lands by accelerating existing AML funds that have been sitting in Washington, DC to coal impacted communities as they transition from mining dependence.

The RECLAIM Act, or HB 4456, represents the reclamation and economic development legislation of the POWER+ Plan. Essentially, the bill aims to reclaim abandoned mine lands in preparation for long term development opportunities on the cleaned up sites. In April, the Economic Transition Team hosted a webinar to share what we know about RECLAIM and its potential impact on Central Appalachia and other regions.

In case you missed the live launch or if you want to view the webinar again, follow this link to the recording.The webinar details how the Alliance uses grassroots tactics, based on a strategic approach, to show Congressional representatives that we are paying attention, and that we aim to be proactive in the policy process.

Updates from the Movement: 


A Seat At the Table Series Hosts Successful Event in Hindman, KY

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth is hosting a series of events to give people a say in what Kentucky’s energy future looks like and to discuss the ways we generate and use energy. These community dinner conversations are about the opportunities and challenges we face as we work together to plan and build a clean energy economy here in Kentucky. Each event also features fun and interactive presentations, cultural performances and informational displays.

The series has been extremely successful, with packed tables and lots of great conversation! Learn more about these events here.

Advocates for a Safe Water System Campaign Moves Forward
In January 2014 there was a huge chemical spill near Charleston, WV – do you remember? If you’ve been following the organizing that has happened since this water disaster, you’ll know that since the water company compromised the water of over 300,000 people they have disappointed residents again and again with lack of action and attempts at rate hikes! Community members have been organizing for a better water system, and a few weeks ago, the Kanawha County Commission agreed to their ask: to convene a meeting with those Mayors and Commissioners who are also concerned about the troubled water system.

Tracking Water Issues at Pine Creek
In March, there was a disastrous mine blow out on Pine Creek in Kentucky.
Appalachian Water Watch team was contacted by a concerned citizen who lives on Pine Creek, and they were able to document the spill as it occurred in real-time.

See more in this very informative article that goes over the process our every day community heroes take when they are fighting for clean water in the mountains. This article shows you the steps that were taken after the Pine Creek mine blowout, explains how negligence lead to the disaster, and shows you what to do if you detect water issues in streams near you.

March Updates from The Alliance for Appalachia

This March We’re in Like a Lion, Out Like a Lion 

Contrary to the old phrase, March weather was in like a lamb, out like a lamb this year; it’s been a strangely warm winter and an early spring.

But at The Alliance for Appalachia, we’re in full on mountain lion mode all month long.

Welcome Lyndsay! 

We’re so excited to welcome our new Economic Transition Coordinator,  Lyndsay Tarus.

Lyndsay Tarus, based out of Huntington, WV, has a master’s degree in Public Administration from Marshall University, with a focus on governance in nonprofit organizations and public agencies. She was an active member of our member group SOCM during her time in Tennessee and is currently a volunteer and board member of our member group OVEC in West Virginia, working on advocacy projects including mountaintop removal, fracking, and safe drinking water. She has held positions with the WV State Legislature and Department of Commerce, giving her insight into both the grassroots and government process for change-making in our region. Her undergraduate degree from Middle Tennessee State University focused on local, regional, and global connections between peoples, places, and events from cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspectives.

Lyndsay was born on Florida beaches, but raised in the lakes and streams of East Tennessee. Her connection to water, along with a deep appreciation of the natural world drives her interest in environmental preservation and cultural adaptation to changing ecosystems. She advocates for social, economic, and environmental justice as an avenue to peace and coexistence.

She will be conducting research into opportunities for community led reclamation project that can help heal the toxic legacy of coal in our region. She will also be coordinating our economic transition work. You can reach her at Lyndsay@TheAllianceForAppalachia.org

Traveling to Washington DC

We sent a team of ten people to Washington DC last week to meet with the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement, to talk about the Stream Protection Rule and the need to reclaim our abandoned mine lands.

We met with the EPA, to ask them for strong water protections and to take bold action during Obama’s final year in office.  The group also met with White House representatives to request strong investment in our abandoned mine lands and our miners to ensure a brighter future for our region.  In addition, we met with Congress to share information about the RECLAIM Act and the need to clean up dangerous former coal mines, and touched base with national allies to strengthen our relationships and share the important work happening locally in our region.

It was a busy week! Thanks to our mountain heroes who made this tiring but important journey once again! We’re already planning a bigger lobby week in June. Speaking of:

Save the Date! June 4-8th  

Ready to go roaring to DC yourself? Mark your calendars for June 4-8th.  We’re excited to announce we’re bringing a larger group of mountain residents and allies to DC to advocate to end mountaintop removal and invest in a brighter future for our region. More details (including registration) should be out next month.

Click here to share our post on your Facebook page to help spread the word!

Grassroots Policy Training: Register Today, Space is Limited!

You are invited! Registration is open till March 25th! But don’t wait till then to register – space is limited!

The Alliance for Appalachia is hosting a Grassroots Policy Training for our members and allies across the Appalachian region. The training will be hosted at the Highlander Center in New Market, TN on Saturday and Sunday April 9-10th and is designed to help people participate in regional and national policy setting.

Research into Bonding Launching Next Month

The continued decline of the coal industry has drawn our attention increasingly to the flawed practice of bonding in our region. Bonding is the process by which coal companies provide financial assurance that they will reclaim the lands they have damaged by mining. Because of weak and inconsistent laws and regulations surrounding this practice, the public is at risk for having to pick up the tab for the immense destruction of mountaintop removal, while the coal industry keeps the profits.

The Alliance for Appalachia has initiated new research into the troubled state of coal industry bonding in our region. Our results and recommendations for policy changes will be released in April 2016.

Presenting at the Appalachian Studies Association Conference

Last weekend our Economic Transition Team presented on their work at the Appalachian Studies Conference in Shepherdstown, WV.

The roundtable discussion, titled “The Power+ Plan and Citizen’s Movement for Just Transition in Appalachia and Beyond,” reflected on the remarkably successful mobilization for just transition policy in Appalachia in the past year, including dozens of county governments across Central Appalachia passing resolutions in support of the POWER+ Plan.  The roundtable will lead to an article for the Journal of Appalachian Studies; panelists will be gathering the ideas from the session to inform the article and our work in the region.

Updates from the Movement: 

STAY Project Updates: 
The STAY Project (Stay Together Appalachian Youth) is celebrating the creation of a new full-time staff position in the region. This decision to move from part-time to full-time will expand STAY’s capacity to coordinate trainings, leadership development opportunities, and resources to build community for Appalachia’s amazing youth.  Just in time to support a busy year of programming – including the STAY Summer Institute:

KFTC Offers Kentuckians “A Seat at the Table” to Empower Kentucky
Kentuckians will have the opportunity this spring to help shape a new Empower Kentucky Plan to map out an energy future for Kentucky that grows jobs, benefits health and addresses racial and economic inequality while doing our part to reduce the risks of climate change.

The Empower Kentucky Plan will be informed by diverse public input, including ideas generated at a series of “A Seat at the Table” community conversations hosted by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth in April and May.

Learn more here. 

POWER Initiative Announces $65.8 Million in Funding for Appalachian Economy
During the funds initial year in 2016, $6 Million was distributed through the fund, including to Alliance for Appalachia members and partners

This year, there are new opportunities for community groups, local governments and non-profits to gain funds to invest in our new economy, learn more about the initiative here.

Winner of Goldman Prize Assassinated

We’re heartbroken to hear of the murder of Honduras Indigenous leader for the environment, Berta Caceres, and the stories of continued violence and murder of another activist in her community. 

Caceres won the prize for her work against a series of four hydroelectric dams that would destroy a sacred river and cut off food and medicine access to local communities.  Mountain leaders Maria Gunnoe and the late Judy Bonds also received this prestigious prize for their work against mountaintop removal coal mining.

Winter Newsletter

You are invited! Registration is open!

The Alliance for Appalachia is hosting a Grassroots Policy Training for our members and allies across the Appalachian region. The training will be hosted at the Highlander Center in New Market, TN on Saturday and Sunday April 9-10th and is designed to help people participate in regional and national policy setting.

Pictured above: Ison Rock Ridge, which was protected by mountaintop removal by the hard work and expert advocacy of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards.

Bi-Partisan RECLAIM Act Introduced

Alliance members recently celebrated the introduction of the RECLAIM Act to support economic development in areas impacted by coal’s decline. The legislation has grown from strong grassroots movements in Central Appalachia. This piece from Think Progress touches on this important effort and how it fits into our work on the Stream Protection Act.

Carl Shoupe sends Congressman Hal Rogers the resolutions that were passed by local governments asking him to support the POWER+ Plan. Carl is a retired coal miner, member of KFTC, and member of the Benham Power Board, which passed a resolution in August 2015.As highlighted in this photo from Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, more than two dozen communities in Central Appalachia passed resolutions in favor of POWER+ Plan in 2015. Carl Shoupe, pictured sending Hal Rogers the resolutions that were passed, is a retired coal miner, member of KFTC, and member of the Benham Power Board, which passed a resolution in August 2015.

As a result of this grassroots pressure,  U.S. Representative Hal Rogers introduced the RECLAIM Act (Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More). The bipartisan bill aims to accelerate the use of $1 billion in funding in the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Fund to help revitalize coal communities hardest hit by the downturn of the coal industry.

The Alliance for Appalachia member groups and allies are active in seeking ways to promote this important piece of legislation.

Stream Protection Rule Defended in the Senate

Last week, Matt Wasson, with Appalachian Voices, traveled to DC to defend proposed Stream Protection Rule before a Senate committee. The rule, expected to be finalized before the end of the Obama administration, is intended to prevent or minimize the impacts of surface coal mining on surface water and groundwater. It has become a flashpoint for the coal industry and its political allies who charge it will harm the industry, but in his testimony, Wasson disputed that charge and highlighted the clear need for a strong rule.

We will continue to fight for this important rule to help ensure that the Obama Administration finalizes a strong rule that will truly protect our communities from harm. To that end, we are planning trips to bring community leaders to Washington, DC in March and in June to advocate for strong protections.  Stay tuned for more information on how you can support this important effort.

New Research into Bonding 

As our country moves beyond coal, bankrupt coal companies are leaving a dirty mess behind and expecting taxpayers to clean it up.  In an effort to stop this trend, this spring, the Alliance for Appalachia is initiating new research into bonding.

The continued decline of the coal industry has drawn our attention increasingly to the flawed practice of bonding in our region. Bonding is the process by which coal companies provide financial assurance that they will reclaim the lands they have damaged by mining. Because of weak and inconsistent laws and regulations surrounding this practice, the public is at risk for having to pick up the tab for the immense destruction of mountaintop removal, while the coal industry keeps the profits.

As this blog from Peter Morgan with the Sierra Club explains, coal companies are playing a dangerous game with the public’s money while many companies mine coal at a loss. Both Alpha Natural Resources and Arch Coal are engaged in this complicated financial gambling which puts our region at risk of multibillion-dollar liabilities if coal companies end up in bankruptcy, as noted by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in this recent article.

Updates from the Movement: 


New Website on POWER+ Plan Brings the Power to the People

Are you excited to get more money for reclaiming abandoned mine sites? Want to help turn these sites into new economic opportunities in your community? Check out this new website built by Appalachian Citizen’s Law Center in conjunction with The Alliance for Appalachia and other regional partners.  It has important updates on the progress of the POWER+ Plan, and apetition to ask your Representatives to support a just economic transition.


New Study Details Devastating Impacts of Mountaintop Removal

A recent study has shown, once again, that mountaintop removal has an incredibly destructive and long-lasting impact on our mountains.

Researchers at Duke University examined topographic data before and after mining. They found that the landscape is 60% flatter in some areas, with 10% of the region overall impacted by mountaintop removal.

The above image by researcher Matthew Ross shows the impact in the Mud River watershed in West Virginia.


West Virginia Groups Impacted by Chemical Spill Release Statement of Solidarity with Flint, MI Water Crisis
Dozens of WV groups signed a statement of solidarity to the community of Flint, and gathered at a press conference and rallyto announce the need for safe drinking water everywhere.

These community groups are working to hold companies accountable for the 2014 coal chemical spill that poisoned the water for over 300,000 people near Charleston, WV, as well as to initiate a community owned water system for the area, you can follow the Advocates for a Safe Water System work here.

Save the Date: Grassroots Policy Training

Pictured: Ison Rock Ridge, which was protected from mountaintop removal mining by people organizing their community and engaging in the regulatory and permitting process. 

The Alliance for Appalachia is hosting a Grassroots Policy Training for our members and allies across the Appalachian region. The training will be hosted at the Highlander Center in New Market, TN on Saturday and Sunday April 9-10th and is designed to help people participate in regional and national policy setting.

Registration is open! Register here.

Do you want a seat at the table shaping the policies and legislation that affect your everyday life? Do you want to learn “how the sausage gets made” and how to make better sausage?

From the POWER+ Plan to the Clean Power Plan, federal and state level policy conversations are shaping our lives and our communities. The Alliance for Appalachia envisions 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 believe that Appalachian people are experts of their own lives and that all people should have a seat at the table in determining the future of their communities.

Scholarships to cover travel are available, childcare can be available upon request. Registration is coming soon. Contact Alannah@TheAllianceforAppalachia.org for more information.

“Knowing about policy helped me to feel confident when talking to members of Congress and Federal agencies about the issues we care about:  ending MTR and building sustainable Appalachian communities. When you know your stuff, you are the expert and can get the folks in decision-making positions to listen.” – Laura Miller, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards

When we are thinking about justice, liberation, and a new economy–there are a lot of obstacles that we have no control of or input to. Learning about public policy and how it works gives us a leg up, a way to provide our input and make change in our cities, counties, states, and nation.” – Kendall Bilbrey, Stay Together Appalachian Youth

Join us at our Grassroots Policy Training to learn or hone the skills that will help you shape the future of our region.