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.

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!

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.

Can You Join Us? Speak Up for Our Water and Our Future!

The federal Office of Surface Mining has finally released a draft version of its long-awaited Stream Protection Rule, and is holding hearings across the region to hear from community members impacted by surface coal mining. We need your help to make sure this critical rule overcomes industry opposition.

Sign Up to Attend a Hearing Now!

Lexington, Ky.
Thurs. Sept. 3, 2015
5-9 p.m.

Big Stone Gap, Va.
Tues. Sept. 15, 2015
5-9 p.m.

Charleston, W.Va.
Thurs. Sept. 17, 2015
5-9 p.m.

The coal industry has spent years trying to stall the rulemaking process and prevent science-based protections for Appalachian streams. If it succeeds in weakening the rule, hundreds of more miles of streams would be threatened by mountaintop removal.

Appalachia’s economic future depends on sustainable communities and a healthy environment. It’s crucial that we demonstrate to the agency that we’re united in support of a strong Stream Protection Rule.

Join us at a hearing near you to demand a rule that protects Appalachia’s land, streams and people.

 

Press Release: Appalachian Leaders Invite U.S. Interior Secretary Jewell to Tour Mountaintop Removal Impacted Communities

A coalition of groups has invited the Secretary to tour communities impacted by mountaintop removal

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Numerous citizen groups, including the regional coalition The Alliance for Appalachia, have recently sent invitations for U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to visit Appalachia and see mountaintop removal from the perspective of those living near the destructive mining practice. In addition, groups wish to showcase initiatives working towards healing the land, communities and economies that have been impacted by over a century of mining activity.

“It is vital for Secretary Jewell to hear from citizens from each state where mountaintop removal is happening. Our hope is that she can visit more than one site, and hear from more than just a few impacted residents,” said Mary Love, the Land Reform Committee co-chair for Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC).

Earlier this month, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Joe Pizarchik, Director of the Federal Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement, visited West Virginia to meet with state agencies and coal company officials. While in Appalachia, Secretary Jewell mentioned an interest in returning to hear the concerns of citizens who are living near mountaintop removal mines, if those groups invited her to the region.

“We were curious when Secretary Jewell mentioned she would like to be invited by citizen groups, since we have invited the Secretary multiple times. I invited her personally during a meeting in 2014, shortly after she took her position,” said Ann League, executive director of Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM), who was forced to leave her home after a nearby mountaintop removal mine ruined her well water.

The Alliance for Appalachia has invited Secretary Jewell to tour the region on several occasions, most recently during a meeting with the agency this past March.  In an open letter to the Secretary last week, The Alliance for Appalachia mentioned a need to engage in creative dialogue around key issues, including lack of oversight over current mining operations and the need to protect public health and strengthen the regional economy.

“We’re pleased to once again invite Secretary Jewell to visit our communities and see these issues from the perspective of people who have lost their health and their community to mountaintop removal coal mining. We want her to see that there is a sustainable future in Appalachia beyond this devastating practice, and explore the ways her agency can be a part of building that future,” said Jane Branham, chair of The Alliance for Appalachia and a board member of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards.

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 Forest Council, Highlander Research and Education Center, Keepers of the Mountains Foundation, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, Sierra Club Environmental Justice, The Stay Together Appalachian Youth Project, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, SouthWings and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.
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Open Invitation to Secretary Jewell to Visit Appalachia

The Honorable Sally Jewell
Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Jewell:

On behalf of our 15 grassroots groups throughout Central Appalachia, the Alliance for Appalachia invites you to visit Appalachia to meet with community-based organizations and impacted citizens that face the direct consequences of mountaintop removal coal mining.

We understand that you recently met with coal industry representatives in West Virginia. They  represent only one perspective on the communities where they operate. They fail to acknowledge the broad and harmful impacts mountaintop removal has on the communities near mines and on the region as a whole. We invite you to visit Appalachia to see firsthand the ongoing challenges caused by mountaintop removal mining operations and allow us to showcase concrete examples of initiatives that could benefit Appalachian communities now and build a more resilient future.

Communities across much of Central Appalachia have for decades been under persistent and increasing threat from adverse impacts to our health, our environment, and our economic opportunity as a direct result of mountaintop removal and related coal industry practices. It is critical that you understand the personal toll that lax regulations and poor enforcement have placed upon many members of communities across the Appalachian region.

The Alliance for Appalachia can be a catalyst to help your agency develop sensible solutions that will protect public health and promote and strengthen the regional economy. We want to facilitate a constructive dialogue to address the impacts of mountaintop removal in a manner that closes serious gaps in oversight and works toward more effective policymaking. We look forward to working with you to solidify a date for this visit, specific locations, and determining any resources you need to make your trip as productive as possible.  Please let us know how we might move forward with assisting you with the execution of this visit with citizens of the region.

Sincerely,

Jane Branham,
Coordinating Committee Chair

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth ● West Virginia Highlands Conservancy ● Ohio Valley Environmental Council ● Coal River Mountain Watch ● Appalachian Voices ● Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards ● Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment ● Keepers of the Mountains ●  The STAY Project ● Heartwood ● Sierra Club Environmental Justice ● Southwings ● Highlander Educations and Research Center ● Gainesville Loves Mountains ● Hands Off Appalachia

 

AML Policy Priorities Tour

The AML Policy Priorities Group is launching a spring AML Educational Tour to share their research with communities across Appalachia. The goal of our research is to recommend policy change through our AML Whitepaper, and share the paper with communities and organizations so they can learn more about how the fund works, and what policy changes are necessary for leveraging these funds into our communities.

The AML Policy Priorities Group is a multi-stakeholder group initially formed to inform the Abandoned Mine Lands Fund research project of two Appalachian Transition Fellows and their host organizations: Kendall Bilbrey, The Alliance for Appalachia and Eric Dixon, Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center.

Updated AML Educational Tour Schedule

  • KFTC Land Reform Committee, Prestonsburg KY (Postponed from Weather, TBA)
  • AML Policy Priorities Group Conference Call: March 18th 11am
    • 760-569-6000, PIN: 465-754
  • Society for Applied Anthropology Conference, Pittsburgh PA– March 24th
  • Appalachian Studies Association Conference, Johnson City TN– March 27th-29th
  • AML Policy Priorities Group In-Person Meeting, Benham KY– April 2nd
  • SOCM Chapter Tour, East TN — April 6th-9th
  • Clearfork Community Institute, Eagan TN — April 9th
  • Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, Hazard KY– May 8th

Questions about the tour? Contact Kendall@TheAllianceforAppalachia.org

Upcoming: AML Educational Tour

EducationalTourFlyer

 

The AML Policy Priorities Group is launching a spring AML Educational Tour to share their research with communities across Appalachia. The goal of our research is to recommend policy change through our AML Whitepaper, and share the paper with communities and organizations so they can learn more about how the fund works, and what policy changes are necessary for leveraging these funds into our communities.

The AML Policy Priorities Group is a multi-stakeholder group initially formed to inform the Abandoned Mine Lands Fund research project of two Appalachian Transition Fellows and their host organizations: Kendall Bilbrey, The Alliance for Appalachia and Eric Dixon, Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center.

Updated AML Educational Tour Schedule

  • KFTC Land Reform Committee, Prestonsburg KY (Postponed from Weather, TBA)
  • AML Policy Priorities Group Conference Call: March 18th 11am
    • 760-569-6000, PIN: 465-754
  • Society for Applied Anthropology Conference, Pittsburgh PA– March 24th
  • Appalachian Studies Association Conference, Johnson City TN– March 27th-29th
  • AML Policy Priorities Group In-Person Meeting, Benham KY– April 2nd
  • SOCM Chapter Tour, East TN — April 6th-9th
  • Clearfork Community Institute, Eagan TN — April 9th
  • Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, Hazard KY– May 8th

Questions about the tour? Contact Kendall@TheAllianceforAppalachia.org

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

appfellowslogo

Hello from the AML Research and Action Team!

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

What can you expect at this meeting?

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

Who Will Be at this Meeting?

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

Logistics

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

Register here by October 13th to guarantee your spot!

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

Press Release for Our Water, Our Future Event

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

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

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CONTACT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow: #stopMTR, #AppRising, #OurWaterOurFuture