Join Our Toolkit Tour

Revitalizing Appalachia: A toolkit for clean-up and community development

What’s it all about?
The Alliance for Appalachia is a grassroots coalition of environmental and social justice organizations dedicated to supporting whole, healthy communities. The Alliance has initiated this toolkit to provide resources for communities vulnerable to the downturn of the extraction-based economy. Our ultimate goal is to provide a guide that will assist community leaders through the lifecycle of an abandoned mine land reclamation project– from defining community needs to building partnerships for projects in their area.

This toolkit builds on our learnings from an extensive and collaborative research project, which culminated in 2015 with the publication of the paper: Abandoned Mine Land Program: A policy analysis for Central Appalachian and the Nation

Who is this for?
We believe that community and resident participation is critical to the success of these development initiatives and that as community members we have the power and responsibility to influence development plans by engaging with federal agencies and local entities that are administering and applying for funds. We believe that sharing information at the grassroots level is essential to successful program management. The federal and regional funding programs listed in this toolkit emphasize a clean-up economy and provide opportunities for cross-sector, multi-stakeholder engagement.

What’s next?
The Alliance for Appalachia’s Economic Transition team is taking the show on the road with a toolkit tour through Central Appalachia. We want to share our learnings with you and are providing resources and support through a community-based workshop, training, and partnership-building opportunities. If you are interested in being a host site, let us know! We encourage you to reach out to your neighbors, expand your network, and talk to your local electeds, and community development authorities about your big ideas for community revitalization. Let this toolkit help turn your idea into action.

Sign Up Here! 

For more information about our organization,
or to request a copy of
Revitalizing Appalachia
, please contact

lyndsay@theallianceforappalachia.org
(304) 691-0260

Trump’s withdraws funding to review the health impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining

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The Alliance for Appalachia is deeply disturbed by President Trump’s decision to withdraw funding for the National Academy of Sciences review of studies on the human health impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining. Many of the studies under review have shown a significant increase in the rates of cancer and birth defects–as well as other increased health risks–in communities surrounding mountaintop removal mines. The NAS was to independently review past studies’ methods and conclusions as well as identify research gaps and make recommendations for future health impact studies. The review committee had already completed several public comment sessions and almost a year’s worth of work on the two-year project.

We and other people in communities near mountaintop removal sites have long suspected that dust, chemicals, and contaminated water from the mines make them sick. Over two dozen studies confirmed these fears–that Appalachians are at higher risk of many diseases simply because of where they live. Mountaintop removal mining is a public health hazard.

The Alliance for Appalachia has been working to end mountaintop removal mining for over a decade. Our member groups are made up of ordinary people who live in communities affected by this destructive practice–people who are grateful for the research that has been done and who are looking for more answers, people whose health has been sacrificed, people who have watched the coal industry betray their communities again and again.

“If President Trump really cared about Central Appalachia, he would allow the review to continue,” states Mary Love, an Alliance member from Kentucky. “He would boost our economy by supporting education, entrepreneurship, and economic diversity. Instead, he continues to cater to a dying industry, to coal companies who care only about profit, not their workers or the communities they live in. Why is the truth being buried like so many miles of streams?”

We are dismayed that this important review by the NAS has been stopped abruptly. Once again, it seems that Central Appalachians have been fed political rhetoric that is used to benefit others while our real needs are ignored. The Alliance for Appalachia urges the Trump Administration to allow the NAS review to continue, so that our society may strive to make decisions based on science and open sharing of information. Only then can we truly do what is best for our communities.

The Alliance for Appalachia is a regional coalition of grassroots, non-profit organizations working to end mountaintop removal and create a sustainable, just Appalachia. Our work to end mountaintop removal speaks directly to the national effort for progressive, systemic change in our nation’s economic, energy, and environmental policies.

Alliance for Appalachia condemns white supremacy

The Alliance for Appalachia condemns white supremacy and all the organizations that support it both overtly and covertly. We mourn the many lives that are lost at the hands of white supremacist terrorism, and we vow to fight for the living.

We recognize that white supremacy is not simply a fringe movement of ignorant and unhinged individuals. Rather, it is an organized and funded movement with at least tacit support from President Trump and others who hold power at all levels of government. We also recognize that racism operates daily, ubiquitously, and anonymously. To effectively overcome this hateful and violent force, it is imperative that all of us–especially white people who directly benefit from systemic racism–organize, strategize, call out, and confront white supremacists wherever they show themselves.

We know that white supremacists are currently attempting to organize within our Appalachian mountains. While we recognize that racism is a serious problem in Appalachia–just like it is everywhere else in the United States–we do not believe it is the dominant force that these violent organizations are banking on. The Alliance for Appalachia stands with the many across our region who are demonstrating against racist hate. We are engaging in meaningful dialogue with our friends, neighbors, and family members about the threats posed by white supremacy, and we are working to liberate ourselves from our own internalized racism and other manifestations of oppressive thinking and behavior.

We cede not our hearts, nor our minds, nor our neighbors, nor our communities. We cede no ground to white supremacist hate and will not be cowed into silence or submission.

For the land and all the people,
The Coordinating Committee of the Alliance for Appalachia

United We Are Stronger

Friends, family, allies:

On election day, our world changed. We too have been in denial, speechless, angry; and it’s taking time to process the past two weeks amidst a lot of unknowns. But one thing we know, and have always known, is that the people of Appalachia are powerful. We know, and have always known, that our work for social and environmental justice is key to our survival. We know, and we have always known, that in unity there is strength.

A lot of us are hurting over the division in our communities. Many of us are hurting over divisions within our own families and in our own homes. There has been real damage done to our society and to our democracy, and the need to grieve and heal should not be ignored.

At the same time, we need to hold accountable the actions of those in power that would harm our communities further. We have worked tirelessly for meaningful progress towards a sustainable, just Appalachia; now more than ever, we’ll need to band together to protect our progress.

Psychological studies have shown that standing up and taking action actually helps heal people in communities that are grieving or feeling vulnerable and isolated. Today, taking action can be as simple as taking care of yourself and your family – we need you in the long run. Take a walk in our beautiful mountains, sit and listen to the water that brings us life, lean into the joy of our children playing. If you need community, we’re here. If you feel like you’re falling, we’ll catch you.

We’ll be working with our local and national allies to push hard as a united front to protect our communities. Here are some opportunities to take action as we process our healing:

  • Do you have big ideas for our region? Our friends at Rural Support Partners have created this open-source local wiki page to share your thoughts, plans, and visions with each other. Together we can!

Looking forward, there is a lot of work to be done, and we will face it together.We are determined, and no matter what changes around us, our values and our vision are the same. Here are the beliefs our work is founded on:

  • Mountain people are experts of their own lives
  • All people should have a seat at the table in determining the future of their communities
  • Regional collaboration strengthens political power built locally
  • Systemic change is necessary to achieve justice in our region

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 envision a world in which all people have access to clean water, clean air and a healthy land base–and a world in which these resources are owned and shared locally. We envision a world in which successful development is measured by the degree to which local economies are robust and lasting, and in which diversity, collaboration, safe working conditions and self-empowerment are pillars of those economies.

As we walk this path together, let these values guide our steps.

For the mountains and people,

The Alliance for Appalachia

Support the RECLAIM Act

These are challenging days. But we are ready for action, and to begin the work to rebuilding our region’s economy. If you are looking to spread a little hope today, we encourage you to read this letter about the RECLAIM Act and sign this petition to help move this important bill forward. Then pass the petition along to a friend.

Dear friend,

My name is Katie Dollarhide and I was born and raised here in the Appalachian mountains of east Kentucky. I’m writing to ask you to do one simple thing to help support communities in Kentucky that are struggling with the decline of the coal industry: sign a short statement of support that I will share with my Senator Mitch McConnell and other members of Congress.

Click here to show your support.

reclaim-act-petition

Congress has the opportunity right now to bring $1 billion back to impacted states across the country to reclaim abandoned mines and create jobs and economic opportunities by passing the RECLAIM Act. But time is running short in this Congress.

When you sign this statement of support, your name will be joining thousands of others across the state and country who support a bright future for coal mining communities.

I care deeply about this place and the loved ones that make it home. But right now folks in the region can’t pull ahead no matter how hard we try, and many of us feel like our communities have been abandoned. We refuse to give up on these mountains, but we need some tools in order to construct our dreams for this place.

The RECLAIM Act isn’t just a five year project, it could be the beginning of our new future. It represents a seed that, with a little nurturing, will help my community and many others blossom and bloom. It would help us grow hope in a place where it’s been extracted.

You can learn more about why I care about this issue and why I think it’s important for us all to care by clicking the link here.

The time is now for Congress to get behind struggling coal communities and pass the RECLAIM Act by the end of the 2016 congressional session. Let’s bring our voices and hundreds more to the table.

Thank you for all you do,

Katie Dollarhide

Letcher County, KY

powerplusplan.org

Click here to sign the petition!

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

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

Creating new jobs and development opportunities by reclaiming abandoned coal mines

Ensuring the health and retirement of coal miners and their families

Supporting economic diversification and job creation, &

Deploying carbon capture and sequestration technologies

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

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

Save the Date: 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.

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

March Updates

The Alliance On Tour – Are We Coming Near You? 

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.

Other recent work from this program includes an Ask the Director Meeting with the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) in Washington, DC. During the meeting, Director Joe Pizarchik and his staff answered questions from citizens about the agency’s work. Several Alliance for Appalachia members joined coalfields citizens across the country in person and by phone. This meeting was coordinated by Citizens’ Coal Council.

If you’re interested in getting more involved in this work, you might join us for the AML In-Person Meeting, April 2nd at the Benham Schoolhouse Inn. Join us for our second in-person meeting in Benham, Kentucky as we discuss our work, present our paper, strategize for the future of the group, and have a collaborative space to learn and build networks.

Other opportunities to engage with this program include:

  • KFTC Land Reform Committee, Prestonsburg KY (Postponed from Weather, TBA)

  • 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

To support this important work, or to help us provide scholarships to community members who wish to attend the spring summit to learn more about these issues, donate here!

Back to DC: A Meeting with Allies 

Now is the time for us to work together to push the Obama administration for urgent action to protect mountain communities from the impacts of mountaintop removal and to begin planning for a sustainable future for Appalachia.On Wednesday, March 11th The Alliance for Appalachia hosted an Allies Strategy meeting in D.C.  We convened at the Sierra Club in D.C. and met with a group partner organizations and national allies including RAN, EarthJustice, and Greenpeace. We discussed our policy priorities for the Obama Administration in 2015 and how we can all work together to forward those goals.
While in DC, representatives of Alliance member groups also met with the Department of the Interior with deputy directors of OSMRE and with the Office of Water at the EPA. Both agencies agreed to look into some of our concerns and we hope that we also made some valuable contacts to continue pushing for much needed change from this administration.We’re excited to continue to plan out our 2015 strategy at our upcoming Spring Steering Meeting March 31st-April 1st; it is an opportunity for our member groups to gather to share work updates, set strategy and build our regional work. For more information, contact Samantha@TheAllianceforAppalachia.org

Updates from the Movement: 

Great news! Quakers win a major victory in the fight against MTR!
After five years of action by Earth Quaker Action Team, PNC announced Monday a shift in its policy that will effectively cease its financing of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia.

Together we have shifted the policy of the seventh largest U.S. bank! This marks a major turnaround for PNC, who for years refused to budge on this issue. After more than 125 actions, their desire to continue business as usual proved no match for EQAT and our allies. Bowing to pressure from Quaker environmentalists, PNC Bank announced that it will be restricting financing of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. The shift outlined in its 2015 Corporate Responsibility Report means PNC Bank will effectively cease its investment in this controversial practice.

In 2012 PNC Bank financed Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal, CONSOL Energy, and Patriot Coal, which together were responsible for nearly half (44.97%) of Appalachian mountaintop removal production. PNC’s total investment was $687.5 million for that year.

The grassroots group leading the charge for PNC’s new policy, Earth Quaker Action Team, hails the change as a major shift by the seventh largest US bank. “When we initiated our campaign in 2010, PNC attempted to placate us with a hollow policy. It’s good to see that PNC Bank is now taking meaningful steps,” says Matthew Armstead, staff coordinator for EQAT. “Since this shift happened because of external pressure, it should be a wake-up call for everyone that the power of change lies with regular citizen activists.”

Read more about this victory on EQAT’s website.

Apply to be an AppFellow!
The deadline for fellow applications for the next cycle of the Appalachian Transition Fellowship is less than a month away! If you are committed to building a just and sustainable Appalachia, you can join a select group of emerging leaders from across the region in the Appalachian Transition Fellowship. The fellowship is a community partnership of innovative regional organizations, institutions, and other emerging leaders. Go here to apply, or send this along to an inspiring young person in your life.

Folks of all ages can apply to attend Wild & Wacky Witty and Wonderful Workshop Week at Highlander, an inspiring week of fun, education and service at the historic Highlander Center.


Putting Their Foot Down: Hundreds Rally at WVDEP

Several hundred people gathered in Charleston, WV on Monday, March 16th for the People’s Foot rally at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. The event was hosted by a coalition of West Virginia groups demanding an end to mountaintop removal and working to highlight the devastating effects of mountaintop removal on the health of local residents. MTR and health issues.

Victory!: WV Officials Agree to Examine Health Issues Connected to MTR
In an exciting update, the day after the People’s Foot rally, state officials agreed to examine the science on the links between MTR and health issues. According to this Charleston Gazette article, Bureau for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Rahul Gupta said, “The analysis is something that is needed going forward. The bottom line here is to let science speak for itself. It’s time that we attempt to do that.”

West Virginia Groups Sue the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement
On March 17th, seven local, regional and national groups filed a formal notice of intent to sue the U.S. Office of Surface Mining for failing to intervene on West Virginia’s lax oversight of mountaintop-removal and other destructive surface coal mining — a state program that has, for decades, allowed the coal industry to ravage the environment, putting people at risk and destroying local communities.

The state’s chronically poor oversight has included a persistent failure to conduct inspections meant to protect people and the environment from coal companies that operate outside the law. Out-of-control mountaintop-removal coal mining is linked to epidemics of cancer, cardiovascular disease and birth defects in affected communities. West Virginia has also failed to undertake required assessments to ensure lakes, rivers and drinking-water wells aren’t harmed by mountaintop-removal mining and other destructive surface coal-mining practices.

Learn more about this important case at Coal River Mountain Watch’s website.

Coal Industry Scheme to Increase Mountaintop Removal in Tennessee
For years, coal companies have successfully pressured state regulators in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia to ease enforcement of environmental protections, and now they hope to do the same in Tennessee. Those states have what is called “primacy” under federal surface mining law, and with state primacy, mountaintop removal has proliferated.

If Tennessee were to gain primacy, it would not only lead to more pollution, it would be a nightmare for our state’s taxpayers. An effective coal mining regulatory program would cost as much as $4 million annually, and Tennessee only produces around .1 percent of coal mined in the U.S. each year. Instead of allowing the federal government continue to fund the Office of Surface Mining’s field office in Knoxville, Tennessee taxpayers would pick up the tab.

Activists are working hard to stop this push in Tennessee and to protect their mountains from further mountaintop removal mining.

Support Our Work!
Donate to The Alliance for Appalachia

Series of Landslides and Mine Blowouts Show On-going Dangers from Coal’s Legacy in Appalachia:

Congress Should Support Obama to clean up dangerous areas says this editorial by the Lexington Herald Leader.

The History of Spills and Other Disasters in Appalachia are examined by Inside Appalachia, including a look at the anniversary of the Buffalo Creek Disaster.

Hughes Creek Mine Blowout Threatens Local Community 
The West Virginia mine is reported to store toxic coal slurry and has been leaking for days. In the picture below from the Charleston Gazette, green dye is being used to track the water discharge.

Mingo County Mudslide forces evacuation.

Clean up Continues After Mine Blow Out Covers Lynch, KY The highway is clear, but residents still dealing with aftermath; officials are seeking AML funding to cover costs of clean up.

Landslide Near Yeager Airport Destroys Church; Forces Evacuation The airport in Charleston, WV was built on a former mountaintop removal site. The landslide continues to threaten area communities.

More News Updates:

STAY Project Appalachian Love Stories Highlighted  more stories at this link as well. This series showcases Appalachian Pride by members of the STAY Project. Art by Katie Hanna

WV DEP Head Acknowledges Connections Between MTR and Health Impacts; says a “closer look” might be in order.

NYTimes article about our allies’ strategic work to de-fund mountaintop removal companies reflects on the successful campaigns.

Coal Ash Stories Highlighted in Upcoming Film and Discussion SOCM and partners will host a free open community discussion on the continuing impact of Tennessee Valley Authority’s coal ash landfill, the recent lawsuit filed by the state against TVA, and what it means for the future of the Gallatin community.

Kentuckians Advocate for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in this fascinating, detailed look at energy and climate issues in Kentucky.

Summary of Don Blankenship Case by Coal Tattoo for those who are following the complicated tale.

Outrage Around Plans to Rollback Safety Regulations that were passed after the 2014 Chemical Spill in West Virginia.

January 2015 Newsletter

Welcome Samantha! 

This month, our long-time Coordinator Katey Lauer will be stepping into a mentoring role, and we’re so excited to welcome Samantha to our team as the new Coordinator!

Samantha is a Knoxville, TN native who has experience working with a number of advocacy organizations including Tennesseans for Fair Taxation, The Tennessee Heath Care Campaign and The Amputee Coalition of America. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her two dogs, Fred and Chuck, knitting and traveling.

Says Samantha: “I don’t think the world faces a more important or pressing issue than protecting our people and our planet. That’s why I’m so honored and excited to be working with the wonderful folks of The Alliance for Appalachia who work hard everyday to support Appalachian people and stem the tide of environmental calamity throughout the great and beautiful Appalachian mountains.”‘

Welcome to the team, Samantha!

Anniversary of the #WVWaterCrisis

It has been one year since the terrible coal-chemical leak near Charleston, WV poisoned the water for over 300,000 people in the area. Below is a reminder of that time: just a bit of the many truckloads of the bottled water collected by volunteers with the West Virginia Water Hub and the many other organizations that joined together to deliver water.


Now, a year later, many people still don’t trust their taps, with recent revelations that the company knew there were problems at  Freedom Industries long before the spill and that federal officials ignored important issues like the air quality concerns caused by breathing in the powerfully smelling chemical MCHM.

This month there are a series of events focusing on the anniversary, the issues created by the spill, and the powerful organizing communities have been doing to hold the industry and the state government accountable. Mark January 17th on your calendar to attend the Charleston, WV leadership training, march and rally, and check out the rest of the events here.

Updates from the Movement: 

Anticipated Changes to the Stream Buffer Zone Rule Move Forward

Last February, a Bush-era change to the Stream Buffer Zone rule was overturned due to citizen-led litigation, and the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) is now reverting to the original 1983 Stream Buffer Zone rule. This rule aims to protect streams by creating a buffer zone around streams that coal companies can not dump waste into. Those living near mountaintop removal can tell you that this law was rarely enforced to fully protect streams, but the Bush era changes made it even weaker.

This spring, the OSM plans to initiate a process to create a new, potentially stronger rule that could go farther to protect our people and our water. A draft rule and an accompanying draft environmental impact statement are slated to be released sometime in the spring of 2015 – stay tuned, we’ll be actively participating in the comment period around this important rulemaking. Read more here.

New Tool Shows Mountaintop Removal is Still Happening
Using Google Maps, experts at Appalachian Voices tracked instances of mountaintop removal mines expanding since 2007. This tool is an important reminder of the urgency for the Obama administration to take action to end mountaintop removal. Check out the site to see some of the heartwrenching “before” and “after” images of the damage caused by mountaintop removal in just the past few years. Then followthis link to tell President Obama to take action today!

Tenth Annual I Love Mountains Day in Kentucky
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) will be hosting the tenth annual I Love Mountains Day on February 12th in Frankfort, KY. There will be a rally and lobby day at the capitol building. For more details, check out the KFTC website! The picture below, courtesy of KFTC, is from the powerful 2014 rally.

SOCM Gets a New Executive Director
Ann League – BBQ expert, long time supporter of SOCM, Appalachian Voices and an invaluable part of The Alliance for Appalachia since our foundation – has been named the new Executive Director of Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment. We’re so excited for this new era for SOCM and for Ann! Read more in the SOCM newsletter.

Regional groups file suit for federal takeover of coal oversight agencies.
A coalition of groups have filed lawsuits in federal court in Kentucky and West Virginia asking for a federal takeover from the EPA of state agencies currently responsible for enforcing federal clean water laws. Citizens have long dealt with lack of enforcement of federal laws that puts our health, our environment and our economy at serious risk. Unable to get protection from state government agencies, they are hoping for a court order that gives oversight to the federal EPA.  Read more about it in this article.

News and Updates:

Op Ed from ACLC Attorney Calls for AML Investment in the Mountains
Noting that the Appalachian coalfields helped build American into the country it is today, Evan Smith calls for reinvestment into the communities that are facing economic and environmental difficulties due the legacy of coal in the region.

SAMS leader Jane Branham call for Abandoned Mine Land funds to be used to employ out of work miners
“AML funds should be allocated to cleaning up abandoned mine lands and not used for political gain or profit. We have coal miners unemployed due to mine closures. What if we could put them back to work reclaiming these lands?”

This NYTIMES oped by Robert Kennedy highlights the impacts of coal operating as an outlaw industry and calls for taking coal money out of politics.

Blankenship Trial Postponed to April  
Five years ago, in April 2010, a tragic explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh county killed 29 miners. According to the article, former Massey CEO Don Blankenship “faces a four-count indictment that alleges he conspired to violate mine safety rules, hamper federal safety enforcement and lie to securities regulators and investors.” The trial has been set to begin in April 2015.

West Virginia Board of Education Approves Inaccurate and Misleading Climate Change Science be Taught
In December, the board changed the science standards to eliminate references to human causes of climate change, ignoring the content created by science experts and educators. You can sign a petition against this ridiculous move here and learn more in this article.

This Op Ed in the Kentucky Herald Leader highlights the dangerous and hypocritical discrepancies of federal agencies regarding the Broad Form Deed, which should protect property owners from mining on their property without consent.

Kanawha State Forest and Area Community Still Under Threat from the mining operations. The Kanawha Forest Coalition continues to fight this permit that puts the popular forest and area community members at risk. The mine has already been cited for numerous violations.