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 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.

December Updates From The Alliance for Appalachia

Welcome New Staff!

We’re so excited to welcome new staff! This month, we’ll introduce you to our new coordinator, Alannah Tomich.

Alannah Tomich comes to the Alliance from Western North Carolina, where she was a Center for Disease Control (CDC) fellow working on diabetes, depression and substance abuse with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. She has particular experience with strategic planning, grant funding and health data. For the last four years she has worked within government health agencies on disparities in access to services. Alannah has long been interested in community organizing to influence public policy.

Alannah holds a degree in public health from UC Berkeley, where she was part of a successful campaign for university policy to ensure access in developing countries to medicines that were developed by campus research, as well as promoting local, organic food in the student dining program. She now lives in Kingston, TN where she enjoys waterfalls, woodstoves and yoga.

From Alannah: “The biodiversity and cultural heritage of the Appalachian region are truly special. I grew up literally all over the world–sometimes not sure where to call home—and in these mountains I see a place where communities are deeply tied to a sense of place.  I believe that preserving the natural world is one of the highest callings.

I look forward to working with you!”

We’re so excited to welcome Alannah to our team!

Thank You for Speaking Up for Clean Water

The Lorax spoke for the trees – but who is going to speak for water?

Over the past few months, over 90,000 people have! We’re so grateful to people like you who responded to our calls for comments for a strong Stream Protection Rule, for defense against selenium pollution, and to protect a little endangered fish called the Kentucky Arrow Darter whose habitat is at risk from mountaintop removal.

Despite intimidation from the coal industry, hundreds of people traveled long distances to show up and speak up for a strong Stream Protection Rule in Lexington, KY, Big Stone Gap, VA, Charleston, WV and other cities nationwide.

Time and again we heard from our contacts at federal agencies how important our comments were – and how thoughtful and in depth the comments from our members are. Small acts like this build up to create a powerful wave of support!

We are planning to make sure that the Obama Administration leaves a legacy of enforcing the law and protecting Appalachian water. Stay tuned for how you can join us in the next stages of this work.

POWER+ Webinar and Summit

Communities throughout Appalachia have been showing their support for the POWER+ campaign by passing resolutions in favor of the proposal from the Obama administration. So far resolutions have been passed in 26 communities throughout the region!

The POWER+ plan would bring money for abandoned mine land reclamation, work-force development and to protect mine worker pension and benefits to coal-affected communities across the nation.
To support these efforts, and to help expand these resolution beyond Central Appalachia, members of The Alliance for Appalachia recently hosted two webinars on “How to Pass a Resolution.” You can view a recording of the webinar here.

The Alliance for Appalachia also had the opportunity to host a strategy session for those working on the POWER+ plan, to explore opportunities to promote this plan and other avenues for economic transition in 2016. It was a productive meeting, and we are bursting with ideas and energy to push this work forward. if you are interested in getting involved in these conversations, there are many ways to join us! Contact to learn more!

The Alliance for Appalachia December Strategy Meeting

The Alliance for Appalachia just wrapped up our last strategy summit of the year – a productive three day meeting hosted by the Hindman Settlement School in beautiful Hindman, KY.

We were surrounded by beautiful quilts and mountain morning mist as we mapped out our workplans for 2016. Highlights we can’t wait to bring to you include discussions about what we want to see from the Obama administration in the next year, what’s next for our region, and an upcoming Policy 101 training in April. Stay tuned!

End of Year Fundraising – Don’t Delete Those Emails!

It’s that time of year again – members of The Alliance for Appalachia – and other non-profits across the country – are busy not only making plans for a strategic and powerful 2016 – but also working hard to fundraise so they can carry out their important work.

Giving to grassroots groups allows them to prepare for the work that they know most needs done – as important as large donations and grants are to our functioning, it’s the small donations that keep our doors open.

Giving $25, $50 or $100 to a smaller group means that your giving dollars are stretched farther and you know that you are making a real, immediate difference on the ground.  It’s a real way to make a difference – so open those emails, be inspired by the amazing work happening in our region, and then donate what you can to keep the work going in the new year!

Updates from the Movement: 

Major Victory in Tennessee!
Have you heard the good news? The Office of Surface Mining is moving toward approval of Tennessee’s petition to have 67,000 acres protected from surface mining! SOCM began this fight years ago – we’re so excited to see this important protection move forward!

However, there’s still a lot of work to do. We know the mining industry won’t let this happen without a fight. That’s why we’ll need  to work together to support our Tennessee friends as they work hard to organize robust public participation in the comment period.

It’s time to take a stand for the mountains, wildlife, and people of Tennessee! Want to get more involved? Fill out this form to learn more about what you can do – including attend a hearing and submit a comment.

An End to Frasure Creek’s Water Violations in Kentucky!
Another reason to celebrate!

Appalachian Voices recently finalized a historic settlement in a case against Frasure Creek Mining. The settlement follows a five-year-long legal battle to protect eastern Kentucky’s waterways and bring a coal company notorious for violating environmental laws to justice.

The agreement is notable not only for the large penalty imposed, but also because it effectively bars Frasure Creek from further mining in Kentucky. Of course, money can never replace the permanent damage done to our water and our communities, but we need to celebrate the hard work and good people who have stopped Frasure Creek from causing any more harm to Kentucky communities. Learn more about this important – and hard fought – victory here.


Join Our POWER+ Webinars!

What is the POWER+ Plan?

What’s in it for your community? And how do you access it? How can you work to pass a resolution in favor of the POWER+ Plan? This is your chance to learn from other communities working to promote this new opportunity for economic diversification in Appalachia.

Join our Webinar:

The Alliance for Appalachia will be hosting webinars focused on building local support for the POWER+ plan, a proposal from the White House that would send billions of dollars to communities struggling from the decline in the coal economy for economic development and diversification.

The goal of the webinars is to give groups across the country the tools and information they need to pass resolutions of support for POWER+ in their local government boards and councils.

Two webinars will be held, one daytime and one evening: Tuesday, December 1st at 2pm & Thursday December 3rd at 6pm.

Since it was introduced in February, groups from WV, VA, TN and KY have had success in passing resolutions of support for the POWER+ plan in their local government boards and councils. Over 2 dozen resolutions have been passed at this time! This groundswell of local support has helped to elevate the issue on the federal level and has pressured reluctant lawmakers to work with the White House to advance the proposal. With that foundation of support laid, it is now critical that we expand community support of POWER+ beyond these initial four states to the other states that would benefit from the plan.
Join our webinars to learn more about the plan and how you can work to support it!
Contact Adam Wells, Economic Diversification Program Coordinator for Appalachian Voices at for more information.

Register for Tuesday, December 1st at 2pm

Register for Thursday December 3rd at 6pm

Press Release: Appalachians Look to Branch Out from Coal-Based Economy

Two dozen local government entities in the heart of Central Appalachia’s coalfields have passed resolutions calling for major federal investment to revive the region’s economy, which is struggling in the midst of the coal industry decline. Most have referred specifically to the White House budget proposal called the “POWER+ Plan.” All passed unopposed.

Starting in July with the community of Norton, Va. —the first to pass such a resolution—a groundswell of support has spread across the region for the plan, a $10 billion proposal to help coal-impacted communities across the country, including more than $1 billion for a range of economic initiatives in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. President Obama announced the plan in February as part of his proposed 2016 budget, but congressional representatives from the coal region have been slow to warm up to the plan.

The resolutions, and a variety of other public and private efforts in recent years, show the huge disconnect between what local citizens see as a necessary way forward to bolster the region’s economy and the politically motivated “war on coal” rhetoric of industry leaders and their allies.

“The benefits of the POWER+ Plan to the people of Eastern Kentucky, both in the short-term creation of jobs and business opportunities, as well as the long-term economic development of the region, are essential to overcome the devastating effects of our current economic difficulties as we transition to a post-coal economy,” wrote Pike County Executive William Deskins in a letter to Rep. Hal Rogers, on September 28, which he included with a copy of the resolution passed by the Pike County Fiscal Court.

The POWER+ Plan would provide $1 billion over five years to coal states and tribal lands to clean up abandoned mines that continue to pollute waterways and pose health and safety hazards, including almost $68 million for the four states of Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. It would also provide $25 million to the Appalachian Regional Commission to support local food systems, health care, energy efficiency and other sectors in the agency’s 13-state region. Additionally, the plan earmarks $128 million to support worker retraining and other economic development initiatives in coal-impacted communities, and would ensure the solvency of the United Mine Workers of America’s health care and pension plans.

“The POWER+ Plan will provide funding to put local people to work building the broadband and municipal water and sewer infrastructure that is urgently needed in our mountain communities. We urge our West Virginia congressional delegation to support this funding proposal,” says Carey Jo Grace,  a member of the Alliance for Appalachia from Charleston.

At the August meeting of the Wise County Board of Supervisors in southwest Virginia, citizens told officials the plan would help develop the region’s tourism assets, retrain laid-off miners, and support health and pension plans for retired miners. In response, board member Ron Shortt said: “We’re behind you 100 percent on this. We realize how important it is to Southwest Virginia and Wise County.”

“There’s a strong sense of excitement and energy these days about the potential for the region, for expanding the opportunities for jobs and more sustainable businesses that are good for workers, communities and the environment,” says Adam Wells, in the Wise County office of Appalachian Voices. This fall, Wells led a project to host eight forums around southwest Virginia to get input from ordinary citizens about their vision for the future. More than 130 people attended, including many younger people who planned to stay involved, he said.

Andrianah Kilgore, 25, was one of them. “I want to see Wise County reach its full potential and I want to work for a better tomorrow, not only to benefit us now, but to benefit the future generations that love Wise and plan to reside here, just as I have chosen to do,” she says.



October Updates

Last Chance to Comment for a Strong SPR

We know approximately 30,000 comments have been written for a strong Stream Protection Rule (SPR) – can we get to 50,000? Comments are due October 25th – click here to comment today!This is one of the best and last chances for the Obama Administration to protect Appalachia from the worst of mountaintop removal.

The Stream Protection Rule is intended to limit the dumping of toxic mountaintop removal waste into our endangered streams. We’ve been demanding these protections for almost eight years and, after a series of delay tactics from the coal industry, we are glad the Obama administration is finally taking action. But we need it to be strengthened, and we have only a few days left to make our voices heard.

Please comment and share with your networks on Facebook!

Rallying for Clean Water at SPR Hearings

Last month, members of The Alliance for Appalachia were busy organizing members and allies to attend in-person hearings to speak up in favor of water protections.

Despite intimidation from the coal industry, hundreds of people traveled long distances to show up and speak up for a strong Stream Protection Rule in Lexington, KY, Big Stone Gap, VA, Charleston, WV and other cities nationwide.

Speaking up in the face of intimidation – including heckling and physical threats – takes true courage, and we’re so proud to work alongside these every day heroes who are fighting to protect their communities and families from water pollution

If you missed your chance to comment in person, you can always comment on-line using our convenient form!

Meeting with Interior Secretary Jewell

Last month. members of The Alliance met with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. This was the first cabinet-level meeting our coalition of groups has secured. We discussed the Stream Protection Rule and the ongoing impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining.

The secretary was open to our comments on revisions that would strengthen the final rule, and clearly understands its importance to protecting the environment and fostering a positive, sustainable economic future for Appalachia.

Selenium Comments Submitted

One of our key policy asks from the Obama administration for 2015 was for a strong selenium ruling that would limit the pollution from this toxic chemical and allow citizens to have a role in monitoring streams.

Selenium, a chemical commonly found in wastewater from mountaintop removal coal mines and in coal ash ponds, is toxic to fish and other wildlife at very low levels, and it is toxic to humans at high levels. Once it is released into waterways, selenium enters the food chain and accumulates in fish, causing reproductive failure and deformities.

The comment period has now closed, and we’re hoping that the administration listens to the many who contributed comments on this important issue.

POWER+ Resolutions Continue to Pop Up Across the Region

Communities throughout Appalachia have been showing their support for the POWER+ campaign by passing resolutions in favor of the proposal from the Obama administration. So far resolutions have been passed in 23 communities throughout the region!

These actions are in stark contrast to the reactions of our state and federal leaders to the plan, which could bring could bring $1 billion in federal funding to the region to reclaim abandoned mine lands sites in ways that will create long term economic development.

The Alliance for Appalachia is working with our members and allies to support these community resolutions and other grassroots efforts to bring the benefits of the POWER+ Plan to our communities.

The Alliance for Appalachia Hosts a Productive Fall Meeting

The Alliance for Appalachia hosted our fall meeting at Breaks Interstate Park; it was a chance for our member groups and allies to get updates on work happening in the region and begin to plan what’s next for the region. Our final meeting for 2015 will be in December 2015.

Thanks to all who contributed to the meeting for making it another productive success – and thanks to Joanne Golden Hill for taking the pictures below!

Updates from the Movement: 

Economic Development Community Forums Held in Southwestern Virginia:
Appalachian Voices has recently partnered with Virginia Organizing to convene eight visioning forums across Virginia’s coalfield counties. The purpose of these forums is to gather community-level input about the future of our economy. These forums are open to the public, and people of all beliefs and backgrounds have been attending and contributing fresh new ideas for the future of their communities.

Input gathered during the forums will be synthesized into a “Citizens’ Roadmap for a New Economy” report that will engage local governments and planning districts on economic development priorities. Learn more about this exciting project at their website!

White House POWER Initiative Grants Awarded
The White House has announced $14.5 million in grant awards for organizations and local governments across 12 states that are building a better economic future for their communities. A majority of the 36 awards, and most of the grant dollars, are going to plan or implement projects in Central Appalachia.

We are especially excited for our friends at Appalshop who received funding to build a one-year IT workforce certificate program targeted to communities affected by the reduction in coal employment. Learn more about the grant recipients here.
Clean Power Plan to Empower Kentucky
Empower Kentucky is an ambitious project to re-shape Kentucky’s energy future based on a vision “that works for everybody” announced recently by KFTC.

As explained in the webinar that launched the program: “Over the next year KFTC will invite thousands of people from all walks of life to share their vision and ideas for transforming Kentucky’s energy system,” said Sean Hardy of Louisville. “Then, together, we will write our own energy plan, one that works for everybody, all of us.”

Comment Today for Sane Selenium Protections

selenium2 comment

We’ve been busy this month advocating for a strong Stream Protection Rule. Now we need you to speak up on another issue threatening Appalachia: toxic selenium pollution.

This element is leaching out of mountaintop removal valley fills in devastating amounts, causing deformities in fish and endangering the health of our streams and communities.

Take action now and tell the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it is unacceptable to weaken selenium standards and put clean water at risk.

The significance of the EPA’s decision on a new chronic selenium standard cannot be overstated. Selenium is toxic to fish and other wildlife at very low levels and is commonly found in wastewater from mountaintop removal mines. Once it is released into waterways, selenium enters the food chain and accumulates in fish, causing reproductive failure and deformities.

Officials in Kentucky have adopted, with the EPA’s approval, a standard with serious scientific flaws that does not sufficiently protect sensitive species. Without an enforceable federal limit, citizen monitoring and enforcement under the Clean Water Act will be seriously compromised.

The comment period ends on Friday, Sept. 25. Please take action today and tell the EPA to create a selenium standard that protects fish and people from the devastating impacts of mountaintop removal.

September Newsletter

Stream Protection Rule Hearings in Full Swing

It’s been a busy summer! We are active across the region working to support local communities to turn out for the Stream Protection Rule comment period.

In July, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) released the long-awaited draft of the Stream Protection Rule regarding restrictions on surface coal mining near waterways. OSMRE will be holding six public hearings across the nation that will give people a chance to provide feedback on the rule.

Three of these meetings are being held near impacted coalfield residents in Appalachia. We need to get as many people to these hearings as we can to let OSMRE know know that we support clean water and a healthy environment in central Appalachia.

The hearing in Lexington went great – with a lot of speakers from our side, and a positive response from the OSMRE on the informed comments given by many speakers in favor of stronger water protections. This article and this article give some interesting coverage – with great quotes from some of our friends!

There are two more hearing next week – can you be there? You can RSVP by following the links below:

Big Stone Gap, Va.
Tues. Sept. 15, 2015
5-9 p.m.
Charleston, W.Va.
Thurs. Sept. 17, 2015
5-9 p.m.
Can’t make it to a hearing? Click here to learn how you can comment on-line!

Power+ Resolutions Pop Up Across the Region

Communities throughout Appalachia have been showing their support for the POWER+ campaign by passing resolutions in favor of the proposal from the Obama administration. So far resolutions have been passed by Harlan and Letcher counties, Whitesburg and Benham in Kentucky; Wise County and Norton in Virginia and Campbell County, Tenn – with more in the works.

These actions are in stark contrast to the reactions of our state and federal leaders to the plan, which could bring could bring $1 billion in federal funding to the region to reclaim abandoned mine lands sites in ways that will create long term economic development.

As this article states, the POWER+ plan would support the reclamation of abandoned mines, with the goal of tying the reclamation work to projects that would provide a longer-term economic boost. However, the plan requires congressional approval.

That could include reclaiming sites for uses such as agriculture, tourism and forestry, and it could creation more than 700 jobs according to the AML Whitepaper published by The Alliance for Appalachia this past July.

The Alliance for Appalachia is working with our members and allies to support these community resolutions and other grassroots efforts to bring the benefits of the POWER+ Plan to our communities.

Staff Updates from The Alliance for Appalachia

We’re so grateful for all the wonderful work of our former coordinator Samantha Wallace, who stepped down from her position at the end of August. She has moved on to new adventures, and we wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors.

We are pleased to be working with Dana Kuhnline as an interim coordinator. Dana was our first coordinator in 2007, and has remained an active supporter of The Alliance for Appalachia ever since. Contact her with any questions at

We’ll be opening up a hiring process soon – so keep an eye out to share our job description.

Updates from the Movement: 

SAMS Hosts a Victory Fish Fry
Beautiful Ison Rock Ridge in Wise County, VA has been protected from mountaintop removal through years of hard work from SAMS and allies. Last week they hosted a victory party to gather friends and celebrate the milestone. People traveled from across the region for music, food and dancing.

Congratulations to the communities surrounding Ison Rock Ridge on preserving your beautiful mountain for future generations!

After the West Virginia Water Crisis: Advocates for a Safe Water System Launch Campaign for Public Takeover of Water Company

An advocacy group formed after the January 2014 Elk River Chemical spill will launch a campaign aimed to create a publicly-owned water system in the Kanawha Valley. Learn more in this informative article, or support this group ontheir Facebook page. 
Grassroots Groups Show Support for the Clean Power Plan
Not to be confused with the POWER+ plan, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan would limit carbon pollution from existing power plants.

While many states are responding by suing the EPA, at the grassroots level, communities realize that it is an opportunity to support the health communities impacted by toxic coal fired power plants as well as transition to clean energy. Many have responded with powerful testimony in favor of the plan, including this Kentucky lawmaker.

IG2BYITM a Powerful Success

It’s Good to be Young in the Mountains recently hosted its first conference celebrating youth who are committed to Appalachia. Learn more about this great project at their website or through this beautiful video. Check out this blog about the inaugural IG2BYITM. This powerful event  celebrating the best parts of being young in the mountains, was created by the STAY Project and supported by a wide coalition supporters.

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: Central Appalachian groups publish paper demonstrating economic potential of reclaiming abandoned mines

Central Appalachian groups publish paper demonstrating economic potential of reclaiming abandoned mines


Kendall Bilbrey, The Alliance for Appalachia

(276) 620-9264


Eric Dixon, Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center

(865) 202- 8688


The AML Policies Priorities Group, a multi-stakeholder group examining the abandoned mine lands fund is releasing The Abandoned Mine Lands Program: A Policy Analysis for Central Appalachia and the Nation, an assessment of the opportunity for Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program. The paper provides recommendations for specific policy changes that would provide distribution of special funds to states based on criteria such as number of remaining abandoned mine lands sites, unemployment rates, and opportunity for economic development, rather than rates of coal production as the current law mandates.

The central aim of the research paper, which includes input from a broad range of stakeholders across the region, is to analyze the AML program and identify potential improvements.

As project advisor Betsy Taylor stated, “For this to work it’s really important that people in the community are able to help design what happens. You’ve got to have local creativity involved.”  Taylor is a cultural anthropologist at Virginia Tech.

Some key findings of the paper include:

  • The AML program supported 1,317 jobs in Central Appalachian states, and delivered a value-added impact of $102 million in these states.

  • It will take at least $9.6 billion to remediate the remaining 6.2 million acres of lands and waters ravaged by abandoned mine problems.

  • Congress should initiate a five-year wholesale update of the federal inventory of AMLs so that complete, reliable data is available on the remaining size and geographical distribution of all coal AMLs—not just high priority AMLs—in the United States.

  • AML funding is not distributed according to need. Congress should enact legislation that replaces all AML sub-funds with a single distribution mechanism based on a state’s percentage of the updated federal AML inventory. This would distribute funding to states and tribes that have the largest AML problems and would simplify an unnecessarily complicated funding system.

This research paper comes on the tails of a major proposal to address the AML issue from the Obama Administration. In February, the POWER+ Plan was introduced as part of the FY 2016 budget. This plan would prioritize opportunity for economic diversification and development in coalfields communities.

“The POWER+ Plan is a step toward recognition for the potential for new and just economies to thrive in Central Appalachia, but it is far from the beginning of the conversation,” noted Kendall Bilbrey, AppFellow for the Alliance for Appalachia and co-coordinator of the AML Policy Priorities Group. “In recent years, organizations across the region have begun campaigns that look at economic diversification needed to re-establish thriving economies in the coalfields, and address the legacy costs that industry has left behind. Leveraging the AML fund to support our community needs has been a key priority for grassroots groups.”

One recommendation of the white paper is for Congress to seriously reconsider how the AML program could operate more efficiently, and to enact policy changes necessary to use the funds for communities most in need.

Besides engaging community members, policy experts, and organizers, the AML Policy Priorities Group has been engaging state and federal AML officials since the beginning of the project. The group developed a survey for AML state officials in 28 state and tribal programs, and the data is included in the report.

The AML Policy Priorities Group is a multi-stakeholder group group formed in the fall of 2014 to inform the research released in The Abandoned Mine Lands Program: A Policy Analysis for Central Appalachia and the Nation . This group is co-coordinated by Kendall Bilbrey and Eric Dixon, working for The Alliance for Appalachia and The Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, respectively as a part of the Appalachian Transition Fellowship Program through the Highlander Research and Education Center. The group consists of over 200 members mostly from the Central Appalachian region representing impacted citizens, community organizers, activists, scholars, lawyers, civil society groups, and state officials.