Grassroots Report Released

As we near the end of 2014, it seems yet another year has passed without significant action from The Obama Administration to end the worst abuses of mountaintop removal.

hillbillies deserve clean water

Members of The Alliance for Appalachia prepare to meet with White House Staff to discuss the need to end mountaintop removal and clean up the toxic legacy coal has left behind.

Despite the disastrous coal cleaning chemical spill in January that left 300,000 without access to clean water in West Virginia, despite a new study that links mountaintop removal to lung cancer, and despite recent accusations from local groups that a Kentucky mining company has violated the Clean Water Act nearly 28,000 times without meaningful repercussion, the Obama administration continues to drag their heels on desperately needed rule-making processes and has even cut off funding for a USGS study on the health impacts of mountaintop removal.

That’s why citizen groups are releasing a Grassroots Citizen’s Report on Mountaintop Removal today that lays out the stakes for the administration and tells them that the time for action is now. Read our press release about the report here.

Support these groups by contacting the administration and demanding action today!

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Members of The Alliance for Appalachia meet with Obama administration staff to discuss the issues facing Appalachia.

The  grassroots citizen’s report  assesses the work the Obama administration has done in the region and provides recommendations for the final two years of Obama’s tenure.  You can check out a one page summary of the report and access the full report here.

A quick summary of the report is this: We need urgent action from the Obama administration to protect mountain communities from the impacts of mountaintop removal and to begin planning for a sustainable future for Appalachia.

While we have successfully pressured this administration in the last five years to take actions that will help protect Appalachian communities from mountaintop removal, there is much more to be done.

In fact, there are four key actions the administration can take this year that will greatly impact the future health of our Appalachian communities and allow the Administration to follow through on its promises.

Add your voice to ensure that the Obama administration takes action!

Successful Rally at the White House Council on Environmental Quality

Today dozens of residents from Appalachia and allies from across the country rallied at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Those wishing to contact the CEQ to support residents can take action here.

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This office oversees the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Surface Mining and other agencies that are responsible for protecting Appalachian residents from the severe water and health impacts of mountaintop removal and other dangerous coal practices.

Appalachian leaders met with the agencies yesterday and were disappointed with the attitude the administration showed towards those that had traveled many hours to DC for the visit. The agency representatives asked for more time to work on the issue, but mountain leaders have been waiting five years since an Obama administration Memorandum of Understanding that promised action against the destructive practice as well as reinvestment in the economy of the region.

#ourwaterourfuture #stopmtr

The tragic and unbelievable series of toxic water spills in Appalachia in 2014 alone – from the 300,0000 people impacted by the spill in West Virginia to coal ash and coal slurry spills in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina – are just the most recent disasters to show the failures of the Obama Administration to follow through on its promises to protect Appalachian communities. There have been over 500 mountains destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining and the region is ready for a just transition to a new economy beyond this destructive practice.

Our Water Our Future Bucket Brigade and sit in at CEQ
The group engaged in a sit-in on the front steps of the CEQ and waited several hours for an agency representative to come out to speak with them – as well as hosting a square dance with a live band playing traditional Appalachian music in front of the CEQ. In addition, residents organized a bucket brigade to collect clean water from DC to bring back home to their communities which do not have access to safe water to drink.

When no representative agreed to meet with residents after several hours of waiting, residents placed a reportcard on the steps which evaluated the progress so far of the CEQ on important areas such as protecting the health and water of Appalachia. Participants in the rally gave the administration a grade of “incomplete.”

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Things Are Bubbling Up: Support Appalachian Leaders in DC Today

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

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

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

Save the Date for September

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

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

Extreme Energy Extraction Summit

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

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

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

Justice to Justice Campaign Launches

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

Keeper of the Mountains Land Trust

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

Appalachian Transition Fellowship Launch

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

Donate To Support This Work

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

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

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

News Updates:

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

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

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

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

 

Donate to Support Our Work

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

Thank you for your contribution!

February 2014 Newsletter

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

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

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Support WV Water Relief Efforts

WV Clean Water Hub

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

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