The Alliance’s Fellow in Yes! Magazine

 

Photo by Cat Moore on Appalachian Fellows Flickr

Photo by Cat Moore on Appalachian Fellows Flickr

This powerful article in Yes! Magazine profiles the amazing people participating in the Appalachian Transition Fellowship. It is a great summary of this ambitious program and the incredible group of leaders that are participating.

The Alliance for Appalachia is honored to be working with Kendall Bilbrey, who we introduced in our July Newsletter.

Currently Kendall’s work is focusing on the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Program with another fellow, Eric Dixon with the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center. In this collaboration, Eric is taking the lead on the research, and Kendall is steering the outreach, engagement, and coordination of events and meetings.

To view a current summary of their findings, you can view a powerpoint that covers the history and current state of the AML program. We’re excited to see what comes next from these promising new Appalachian leaders!

July Newsletter

Register for Our Water Our Future! 
Registration is now open! Sign up to join us at the national day of action, September 8-9, 2014. Can’t be there but want to help? We’re currently fundraising to support this important campaign and need you to be a part of it. Help make this event happen!

Photo by Joanne Golden HillMountain activists were busy in DC last month on a lobby trip sponsored by Appalachian Voice, Earth Justice and the Alliance for Appalachia. We met with 24 House offices, the US EPA and the Office of Surface Mining to remind them that mountaintop removal is an urgent issue that needs immediate action. Learn more about this great trip with this write up from Appalachian Voices.

Updates from the Movement:

Keepers of the Mountains Hosts Kayford Mountain Fourth of July Music Festival While Traveling Around the World
Continuing an annual tradition, the Fourth of July Music Festival was a huge success this year, with movement friends new and old gathering together to celebrate our work with fellowship and music. This year the festival was solar powered – the first solar powered music festival in West Virginia! –  thanks to ongoing efforts of Keeper of the Mountains.

In addition to hosting these important gatherings, members of Keeper of the Mountains have been traveling across the world to advocate for divestment from fossil fuels and to protect the mountains. Last month, Paul Corbit Brown traveled to Bern, Switzerland to work with other Human Rights Defenders to draft a United Nations Resolution for the protection of our resources.

Justice for Justice Pickets Greenbrier Classic

SAMS launched the Justice to Justice campaign in early May, to demand the coal baron clean up his mess, pay off his debts, and stop poisoning water. In June, they delivered 300 petitions demanding that Jim Justice clean up his act to A&G Coal Corp, joined by residents of West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. You can sign the petition here – this drop was only the first.

In July, members of the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS) were joined by about 20 allies from across Appalachia in a picket and vigils outside the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV. The Greenbrier is home to an annual PGA golf tournament that brings thousands to the small West Virginia town, all of it made possible by the profits Jim Justice has extracted from Appalachian communities. Visit justicetojustice.com to support this growing campaign!

Stay Together Appalachian Youth (STAY) Project Plans 4th Annual Summer Institute
In June, STAY members traveled to Detroit for the Our Power Detroit gathering, a 3-day event hosted by the Climate Justice Alliance that gathered together youth from frontline communities across the country to discuss just transitions for their communities. The STAY Project also hosted a gathering at the Highlander Center for youth of color.

The STAY Project will host the 4th Annual STAY Summer Institute (SSI) from July 31st to August 3rd at Camp Bethel in Wise, VA.  SSI is STAY’s largest gathering of the year and is open to 14-30 year old’s from Central Appalachia, including eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee, West Virginia, southwest Virginia, and western North Carolina.

Kentuckians Demand a Better General Permit
Members of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth have been busy advocating for a better water quality standards at public hearings last month. The General Permit is a problematic “one-size-fits-all” approach to pollution from coal mining in Kentucky that does not provide needed protections for Kentucky waterways. The General Permit is being updated and renewed this year and Kentuckians have been working hard submitting public commentary and gathering written comments to fix serious issues with the permit.

Mountain Justice Hosts 10th Annual Summer Camp
The annual Mountain Justice Summer Camp is a great opportunity for mountain activists to learn and teach about the issues affecting our region.

This year’s camp culminated in an action organized byRAMPS and Mountain Justice at Alpha Natural Resources headquarters in Bristol, Virginia, where activists protested the opening of new mines on Coal River Mountain. Local residents and activists have been fighting surface mining on Coal River Mountain since the late 1990s.

Win in Virginia! 
In Southwest Virginia, a controversial 26-mile section of the Coalfield Expressway must undergo a full environmental review and examine alternatives that don’t include mountaintop removal mining. The highway proposal is a partnership with coal companies to allow mountaintop removal.  More than 85,000 citizens sent comments to VDOT and FHWA expressing their concerns about the permit. Learn more about SAMS work to stop this destructive proposal.

Welcome Kendall! Appalachian Transition Fellowship Launches

The Alliance for Appalachia is excited to introduce you to our amazing Appalachian Transition fellow, Kendall Bilbrey:

Growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Wytheville, Virginia, Kendall has made it a priority to protect Central Appalachia and its people. Kendall is a 2012 graduate of George Mason University with a Bachelor of Science in Conservation Studies. Upon graduating from college, Kendall embarked on a journey to China where they studied red panda and giant panda behavior for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

Kendall is passionate about the Central Appalachian region and working towards a just economic transition in the region. Kendall also hopes to promote the sustainability and conservation of the rich biodiversity and culture of the region through their work. Outside of their work in conservation, Kendall enjoys Old Time Mountain music and connecting with people everywhere they go.

Donate To Support This Work

This year will be one of our hardest financially even as we move forward with a strong workplan, firmly rooted in local leadership from our steering committee and our busy work teams. Please donate to support our work for clean water and a healthy Appalachian future!

News Updates:

Coal company needed permission from all landowners
A federal judge ruled a surface-mining permit to a coal company that did not get permission to mine from some owners was improper. Previously any surface owner could give permission for surface mining. This ruling could have national significance.

Court rules mountaintop removal polluted streams
An important federal court ruling acknowledged damages caused by high conductivity on aquatic life. This decision puts pressure on environmental regulators to enact meaningful conductivity standards.

The real costs of public protest
In this fascinating article, mining companies outline the ways that citizen protest hurts their bottom line, as well as ways to fight back against citizen organizing.

Jim Justice Pollutes Water in Tennessee
SOCM and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit saying that an underground mine in Campbell County, TN is polluting the New River. The groups also intend to file suit against companies owned by Justice that are in violation of the Clean Water Act from not filing water pollution reports.

MCHM More Toxic Than Originally Reported
The toxic chemical that poisoned drinking water for other 300,000 people in January has been shown to be more harmful to aquatic wildlife than originally reported by the industry.

Freedom Industries Only Fined $11,000
That’s less than 4 cents for each person affected by the disastrous water crisis this past winter.

USGS study confirms mountaintop removal’s disastrous impacts on streams
In a study confirming what residents have said for years, the USGS shows that Appalachian streams impacted by mountaintop mining have less than half as many fish species and about a third as many fish as non-impacted streams.

Residents in Charleston, WV fight strip mine in Kanawha State Forest
Local gem Kanawha State Forest is under threat from a 414 acre strip mine. The community has been busy fighting this mine and has formed the local group the Kanawha Forest Coalition with support from Coal River Mountain Watch’s WV Care Campaign and other local partners.

Free well water testing in Southern West Virginia
OVEC is working with Duke University to help residents concerned with water safety to test their wells.

85 year old mountain activist Roland Micklem begins hunger strike for the mountains
Three activists are fasting outside WV Governor Tomblin’s office in protest of mountaintop removal.

Things Are Bubbling Up: Support Appalachian Leaders in DC Today

This week, we are supporting a strong team of Appalachian leaders from West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee gathering in Washington DC to meet with federal agencies, including the EPA and the Office of Surface Mining, to apply pressure on several key water decisions slated for 2014.

Lend your voice! Support our team in DC today: Contact the Obama administration and let them know that Appalachia deserves action for safe water – our future depends on it.

In addition to these high-stakes meetings, our team is fighting bad budget riders on the Hill that would threaten our mountains and our water. It is more important than ever to build relationships with our champions in the Senate and the House who speak up when terrible proposals to gut already flimsy water protections are presented in Congress. What’s more, beyond this critical defense work, we’re continuing to build relationships for positive action on this Hill this week by bringing on new co-sponsors to the Clean Water Protection Act. Thanks to our friends at Earthjustice and Appalachian Voices for making the week possible.

Save the Date for September

Appalachian action in DC this week is an important part of the “Our Water Our Future” campaign to push for stronger protections for our water.  We’re telling the Obama administration that we are done waiting for clean water! You can join us at the national day of action September 8-9, 2014!

Can’t be there but want to help? We’re currently fundraising to support this important campaign and need you to be a part of it. Help make this event happen!

Extreme Energy Extraction Summit

In May 2014, members of the Alliance for Appalachia joined allies from across the country working on Extreme Extraction issues in Albuquerque, NM. It was an amazing learning opportunity and an inspiring way to connect with the wisdom of other movements for energy justice across North America. As part of the event, Appalachia leaders went on a tour of local communities dealing with the toxic legacy of uranium mining. Read more about the tour here.  In the photo below, summit participants are viewing Navajo land that is threatened by a proposed uranium mine. Learning about how the local community is resisting destruction in New Mexico had a lot of connections to the battles we are facing in Appalachia. Click here to learn more about the voices at the summit.

The Alliance for Appalachia has been a core part of the Extreme Energy Extraction group and we are excited to begin planning for the next summit, which is slated to be hosted in the gulf South.

We are also excited to be working with the Climate Justice Alliance’s  Our Power campaign, which highlights key areas for just transition. Youth from The Alliance for Appalachia and our member group the STAY Project will be attending the youth gathering in Detroit this month to connect with other young people who are facing energy injustice in their home communities.

Justice to Justice Campaign Launches

Visit JusticetoJustice.com to get involved in a new campaign to tell Jim Justice Clean up his mess, pay of his debts, and stop poisoning our water! This deadbeat billionaire had wreaked havoc on communities across Appalachia. The campaign started in Wise County, VA, where Justice’s mountaintop removal coal mine have poisoned water, blasted communities, mistreated workers and left the towns to foot the bill.

Keeper of the Mountains Land Trust

Read more at the ilovemountains.org blog. Keeper of the Mountains Foundation has begun a land trust which works with small landowners to protect their land with support from Coal River Mountain Watch. They began by working with Sid and Dana Moye to protect their 24 acres of farmland, pictured above. Unlike many land trusts, Keepers will work with small landowners and those who don’t have their mineral rights, making land protection accessible to more residents. By the end of 2014, Keepers aims to have 1,000 acres of land protected in easements – an important step towards giving residents power over their own land and future.

Appalachian Transition Fellowship Launch

This exciting and ambitious program has 15 aspiring Appalachian leaders in host communities across the region working on a diverse array of projects to build economic resiliency towards a just economic transition in Appalachia.  Stay tuned to learn more about this work throughout the year!

Donate To Support This Work

This year will be one of our hardest financially even as we move forward with a strong workplan, firmly rooted in local leadership from our steering committee and our busy work teams. Please donate to support our work for clean water and a healthy Appalachian future!

Members of the Alliance for Appalachia met recently at beautiful Breaks Interstate Park in Virginia to plan our upcoming strategy.

Alliance for Appalachia staff has been working to support West Virginia Water Roundtables, bringing together a a diverse community of leaders who are continuing to take action following the WV Water Crisis to ensure West Virginians have access to safe drinking water.

News Updates:

Victory in the Battle for Blair Mountain! The West Virginia Department of Protection has set aside a section of Blair Mountain for protection until at least 2018. Thanks to all who worked so hard on this campaign over the years – including over 1,000 who marched for it’s protection in 2011!Tenth Anniversary of Mountain Justice: Celebrate a decade of work, learn new skills, hear great music, and find ways to get involved in the movement at this year’s camp, June 14-22nd.Breaking Clean Tour Coming Near You? Appalachian Voices is working with former coal miner Nick Mullins to tour with his family to share “stories of struggle and hope” about coal and the future of Appalachia.Check the website for tour dates. 

Earth Quaker Action Team Launches Biggest Action Yet to Pittsburgh: On July 3rd, our friends in Pittsburgh will be taking action to tell PNC to stop funding mountaintop removal!

Strong Selenium Protections Needed. Protecting our water from selenium is an important part of the fight against mountaintop removal – you can learn more about selenium dangers and EPA’s proposal to address them in this excellent article by Chris Espinosa with Earthjustice.

100,000 Have Health Impacts from Spill: This article provides a not-so-shocking update on the West Virginia Water Crisis shows a better picture of the extent of health impacts.

 

A fellow for Appalachia’s Bright Future

Photo courtesy of www.appfellows.org

Photo courtesy of www.appfellows.org

We’re so excited to be moving forward with the Appalachian Transition Fellowship program through our partners at the Highlander Center!  This program places emerging community leaders with host communities to provide capacity with the host group and build the skills of the fellow. Fellows will have the opportunity to network, mentor and train with leaders from across Appalachia and across sectors of work. The Alliance for Appalachia’s fellow will work with our Economic Transition team and allies across the region to create a regional plan of action towards building a resilient and healthy Appalachian economy.

Save the Date: Our Water, Our Future

ap_rising_DC_thumb_460x9999

September 8 – September 9, 2014 

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.

“Mountaintop coal mining,” said former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, “cannot be predicated on the assumption of minimal oversight of its environmental impacts, and its permanent degradation of water quality. Stronger reviews and protections will safeguard the health of local waters, and thousands of acres of watersheds in Appalachia.”

Well, it’s five years later and we are still waiting for those safeguards. Meanwhile, the toll of coal on water and people in Central Appalachia is increasing, punctuated by the recent coal ash, slurry, and coal-processing chemical spills across our region.

We can change this. Mark your calendars and join us on September 8th-9th in Washington, D.C.

We’ll take action together and let this administration know that we expect them to follow through on their promises!

Donate to Support Our Work

Fists

This year will be one of our hardest financially even as we move forward with a strong workplan, firmly rooted in local leadership from our steering committee and our busy work teams. Please donate to support our work for clean water and a healthy Appalachian future!

Thank you for your contribution!

Spring 2014 Newsletter

App Rising

Our Water, Our Future

Planning is getting off the ground for Our Water, Our Future. RSVP for this exciting event, September 8-9th, 2014 in Washington DC. Way back in 2009, 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 coal mining.

Five years later the toll of coal on water and people in Central Appalachia is increasing — punctuated by the recent coal ash, slurry, and coal-processing chemical spills across our region. This powerful op-ed outlines some of what citizens go up against when they ask their government to regulate the worst abuses of the coal industry.

Earlier this month, citizens from Appalachia joined with the Citizens Coal Council and leaders from coal-impacted regions across the country for an unprecedented meeting with the Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, in Washington, DC.

Community members made the journey because this year, Secretary Jewell will make major decisions that impact the water and future of Central Appalachia. This important meeting is just one step in our work to ensure that Appalachians have a seat at the table during this critical time.

Join us this September in DC to tell the administration that we’re done waiting – it’s time to protect our water and our future.

jewell_meeting

Citizens Coal Council meets with Secretary Jewell at the Department of the Interior.

At the Legislature

March and April have been busy months for The Alliance for Appalachia and our member groups. Many groups have been working hard as state legislature seasons wrap up. On the national level, we worked to fight off a bad bill that would allow coal companies to dump coal waste into our mountain streams with little regard for the impacts on our water and our communities. This terrible bill did pass in the House, but our advocacy inspired threats of a White House veto, impassioned speeches on the House floor about the dangers of mountaintop removal to community health, and a strong assurance that this bill would have no traction in the Senate.

Appalachian Transition Work

We’re so excited to be moving forward with the Appalachian Transition Fellowship program through our partners at the Highlander Center!  This program places emerging community leaders with host communities to provide capacity with the host group and build the skills of the fellow. Fellows will have the opportunity to network, mentor and train with leaders from across Appalachia and across sectors of work. The Alliance for Appalachia’s fellow will work with our Economic Transition team and allies across the region to create a regional plan of action towards building a resilient and healthy Appalachian economy.

 

Allies in Action

The Alliance for Appalachia helps local community groups engage with national campaigns to protect our mountains. Here is a snapshot of some of the exciting work happening right now.

Victory! JP Morgan Chase Drops Mountaintop Removal! Our friends at Rainforest Action Network announced exciting news! JPMorgan Chase updated its environmental policy, revealing that it will be ending financial relationships with Mountaintop Removal coal mining companies. This is the result of a powerful grassroots effort!  JP Morgan Chase joins Wells Fargo and BNP Paribas/Bank of the West who are already moving away from Mountaintop Removal. Tell the rest of the banks to drop Alpha Natural Resources and adopt a policy to phase out MTR financing.

The Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) traveled 900 miles to Tampa, FL for the PNC shareholder meeting for the fourth year in a row to protest the bank’s financing of mountaintop removal.  According to organizers: “If PNC does not adopt a full sector exclusion by June 1, the Earth Quaker Action Team will be back in Pittsburgh in early July with Quakers, allies and supporters from across the country.” To follow or support their exciting actions, visit their facebook.

Thanks to all who donated to the Lone Mountain Book project – over $15,000 was donated to publish this unique children’s book about mountaintop removal.

Dozens of members of Gainesville Loves Mountains spoke out at an important City Commission meeting, demanding a ban of the use of mountaintop removal coal  to power their city.  Commissioners voted to draft a proposed resolution opposing mountaintop removal as well as to draft a policy that would ban local utilities from purchasing coal from mountaintop removal sites. To learn more about this campaign or how you can support this powerful group, visit https://www.facebook.com/GainesvilleLovesMountains
Donate To Support This Work

This year will be one of our hardest financially even as we move forward with a strong workplan, firmly rooted in local leadership from our steering committee and our busy work teams. Please donate to support our work for clean water and a healthy Appalachian future!

February 2014 Newsletter

Rally for Clean Water in Charleston January 2014The past two months have been a flurry of activity for members of the Alliance and our partners across the region. The ongoing water emergency in West Virginia, additional spills in West Virginia and North Carolina as well as busy state legislatures have kept our members and allies busy, busy, busy.

We’re excited to share some good news for our communities’ health and streams! A federal court has vacated the Bush administration’s 2008 gutting of the stream buffer zone rule and sent the issue back to the Office of Surface Mining — good news for the Obama administration’s efforts to rewrite the George W. Bush administration rule. We’ll be active this year pushing for strong protections for our water and we’ll keep you informed as this process moves forward.

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Support WV Water Relief Efforts

WV Clean Water Hub

This week and late last, people and organizations across West Virginia and the country have been responding to the water crisis. Coal River Mountain Watch, The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Keepers of the Mountains, Appalachian Voices, Aurora Lights, other Alliance for Appalachia member groups and people-led institutions across the state have been responding through relief efforts, legislative visits, media work–you name it.

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