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.


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.

April News Wrap-Up

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

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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.

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 info@Theallianceforappalachia.org 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 Adam@appvoices.org 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.”