We’re Hiring

The Alliance for Appalachia Job Announcement
Applications accepted until November 28th

Background:

The Alliance for Appalachia is a regional alliance with the goals of ending mountaintop removal coal mining, putting a halt to destructive coal technologies and supporting a just and sustainable transition in Appalachia. The Alliance for Appalachia began in 2006 and consists of 15 organizations across four states, as well as regional organizations and allied groups.

The Alliance for Appalachia is governed by a Steering Committee made up of one representative and an alternate from each of the member organizations. We have Coordinating Committee and Work Teams on federal strategy, economic transition, Appalachian citizens’ water quality enforcement, as well as other ad-hoc teams working on special projects.

Title:

The Alliance for Appalachia Coordinator

Duration:

The position begins part-time / 20 hours a week and will transition to full-time / 40 hours a week as soon as funding allows.

Reports to:    

The Coordinator reports to the Steering Committee of The Alliance for Appalachia, with direct oversight by the Coordinating Committee. During the first five months of the position, the Coordinator will receive coaching from our current Coordinator.

Scope:            

The Coordinator works in conjunction with The Alliance for Appalachia member groups’ staff and volunteers to plan, organize and coordinate the operations/administrative activities of The Alliance for Appalachia in carrying out campaigns and projects in the region and federally. The Coordinator participates in the development of strategies and priorities and implements strategy as crafted and finalized by the Steering Committee. To be clear, this not an Executive Director position, but a Coordinator position where staff works to facilitate the development and exaction of work as created by The Alliance for Appalachia leadership.

Activities:      

  • Facilitates strategy development and implementation among member groups.
  • Coordinates Alliance participation and travel logistics for key events.
  • Implements fundraising strategy with appropriate Alliance committee oversight.
  • Works with Alliance leaders and team conveners to coordinate facilitation of calls, meetings, etc.
  • Takes notes of all meetings and is responsible for follow through on actions/decisions of The Alliance
  • Responsible for administrative duties and internal communications among all entities of The Alliance
  • Responsible for electronic communications, basic research and maintaining The Alliance web presence
  • Assists in the coordination of media outreach with the appropriate Alliance committees

* Heavier seasonal workloads may occur as a result of project deadlines and during peak activity periods, such as large regional events and training weekends.  Weekend and/or evening work is sometimes required. Must have the ability to travel.

Skills/Qualifications:

  • Experienced in working with non-profit organizations; experienced in working in coalitions.
  • Knowledge of mountaintop removal concerns and other issues impacting residents of Central Appalachia.
  • Good time management skills; must be a self-starter.
  • Grant writing and management skills.
  • Good written and verbal communication skills including facilitation experience.
  • Experienced in working with a wide variety of volunteers, community leaders and staff.
  • Willing to travel and be flexible about time.
  • Good computer skills.

Compensation:

Compensation is commensurate with experience. A pro-rated benefits package, meaning that a half-time employee will receive half of a standard benefits package, is available. We provide annual cost of living adjustments and annual salary bumps to credit experience. Staff will earn vacation days, holidays, sick days and personal days. We also have a compensation time policy.

Location:

This Coordinator must be located in the Central or Southern Appalachian area, specifically near the coalfield areas of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, or West Virginia.

Please submit a cover letter, resume, writing sample, two professional and one personal reference to: a4a.hiring@gmail.com  before November 28th.

For a description of The Alliance for Appalachia member groups go to: TheAllianceForAppalachia.org.

The Alliance for Appalachia is an equal opportunity employer. Women and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

Press Release: Can communities influence mine cleanup, create jobs, and diversify our economy?

A diverse group including policy experts, scientists and community members is meeting to discuss effective use of Abandoned Mine Land dollars to improve communities in Central Appalachia.

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October 27, 2014 – Breaks, VA – A diverse group of stakeholders, including impacted community members, non-profit organizations, scholars, policy experts, lobbyists and scientists are gathering at Breaks Interstate Park at the border of Virginia and Kentucky today to discuss the looming issue of Abandoned Mine Lands.

Meeting participants will share information about working with the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Fund, policy recommendations for reforming the troubled program, and discuss other reclamation needs in the region. The group will explore possibilities for regional collaboration on these issues.

“As coal production declines in the region and we transition towards a new economy, the Abandoned Mine Land fund can play an integral part in providing employment and creating healthier, safer communities in the region,” said Rob Goodwin, technical analyst with the WV CARE Campaign. “The fund was intended to be spent to clean up the highest priority risks to communities and the environment. Without people coming together to change the status quo, payments into the fund will expire in 2022, current funds will not be spent efficiently and large risks to Appalachian communities’ streams will not be addressed.”

The AML fund was created in 1977 as part of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). The purpose of the fund is to reclaim pre-1977 abandoned mine lands, and it was born from the idea that the coal industry should bear the cost of the environmental and social damage wrought by mining coal. Millions of AML dollars are appropriated to coal states annually, though the allotment process has long been fraught with controversy. This group has hopes for making the process more useful to communities dealing with the toxic and dangerous legacy of abandoned mine lands and has noted that these monies could be used to fuel economic transition efforts in Appalachia.

The meeting is spearheaded by a regional coalition of The Alliance for Appalachia and the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center. Through the Highlander Center’s Appalachian Transition Fellowship program, these organizations have been collaborating to create a whitepaper regarding AML fund opportunities in Central Appalachia and to bring together leaders and community members throughout the region who are working on the issue.

Long-term goals of the project include increasing employment opportunities by putting unemployed miners and others to work through reclamation and reforestation, and to begin to foster creative, community-led reclamation solutions that will benefit communities, such as Wise County, VA, that have seen up to 25% of their land damaged by mining.

“The AML money needs to come back to where it came from, and where the healing is needed,” said Jane Branham of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards in Wise, County, VA.  “We have all these people out of work from mine closures, and we can put people back to work healing the land – it’s not just good for the land, it’s good for the people, and would be a project our community could really take pride in.”

This event is co-hosted by the Alliance for Appalachia and the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center from Whitesburg, KY. The Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center is a nonprofit law firm that fights for justice in the coalfields by representing coal miners and their families on issues of black lung and mine safety and by working with grassroots groups and individuals to protect the land and people from misuse and degradation caused by extractive industries. The Center handles individual cases and engages in strategic litigation and policy work in the areas of mine safety and health, environmental protection and sustainable energy.

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

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September 2014 Newsletter


Thanks for helping make “Our Water, Our Future” such a huge success! 

The Alliance for Appalachia was honored to host dozens of Appalachian community leaders in DC this September, along with allies from across the country, to fight for our water and our future.

These mountain leaders, pictured below, were our delegates to an inter-agency meeting with the Obama Administration. While there, residents presented stories of impacts at home and as well as simple policy changes that would limit the destruction of mountaintop removal and go a long way towards protecting our communities.

While it was clear from our inter-agency meeting that the Obama Administration’s Council on Environmental Quality was unprepared to report its progress and defend its shortfalls since its 2009 commitments, we were blown away by the strength of  mountain leaders who traveled many hours from many states to share our own evaluation. It was great to see all the work of our different committees and different organizations come together.

Our organizing team assembled a great training that introduced emerging leaders to the policy recommendations that our Federal Strategy team has developed for the Obama Administration. These administrative changes include a Conductivity Rule and strong Selenium Standard from the US Environmental Protection Agency and a strong Stream Protection Rule and Mine Fill Rule from the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation Enforcement.

We summarized the basic asks in a Report Card that graded the Obama Administration on their efforts to stop mountaintop removal, then printed out the reportcard to present to the CEQ following our big meeting. You can see that the Administration has much more to do in the next two years–they got an I for “Incomplete” in most areas.

In addition to sitting down with agency officials, groups met with Congressional Representatives, worked with EQAT to demand that PNC bank divest from mountaintop removal, celebrated with allies and friends at our Moonshine Mixer, and took small actions around DC.

Oh and did we mention the powerful day of action? More than 100 of us gathered outside the offices of the CEQ and the White House, demanding protections for our water and our future. Residents formed a bucket brigade to gather clean water DC officials have promised us and bring home to our Appalachian communities that don’t have clean water.

In addition, some residents chose to sit in on the front steps of the CEQ to deliver our report card, while others joined in a joyful square dance on the front walk of the office.

Our efforts only grow from here! We will continue to build power and design opportunities for action around these rulemakings in 2015, including releasing a “Grassroots Progress Report: The Obama Administration and Mountaintop Removal” that outlines our member groups’ evaluation of the Obama Administration’s progress to address strip-mining, and offers a two year workplan for action.

We’re grateful to all the volunteers who made this event happen on a shoestring budget and our many partners that donated to support scholarships for Appalachian leaders to attend. Beautiful photographs of the planning process can be found at this link  and here are pictures of the rally at the White House. We reached over 50,000 people on Facebook, over 130,000 on Twitter and nearly 2,000 people contacted the administration to support our action. If you haven’t sent an email, please do at this link! For more information, read our blog that summarizes the day’s activities and some great press coverage from Think ProgressBloomberg BNA, and Waging Nonviolence.

Updates from the Movement: 
Campaign Victory from Gainesville Loves Mountains!
The Florida based Gainesville Loves Mountains has been working for over three years to pass a an ordinance at the city commission that would ban the use of coal from MTR mines in regional utilities. This month, they won that campaign! This makes Gainesville the first community in the US to ban the use of MTR-mined coal for their electricity! Above, Gainesville Loves Mountains‘ key organizer Jason Fults and Appalachian Voices’ Ann League pose before the hearing. Members of Appalachian Voices traveled to Florida to educate the commission on the dangers of mountaintop removal coal mining and alternatives to using coal from this destructive practice.

Abandoned Mine Lands Research Project Progresses Towards a Campaign
Our Highlander Center AppFellow, who began working with us in June, is partnering with a fellow at the Appalachian Citizens Law Center (ACLC) to conduct primary research on the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Fund–a body of federal funds set aside to clean up pre-1977 abandoned mines sites. The fellows are working on a white paper with policy recommendations which will be presented at an AML regional gathering on October 27th at the Breaks Interstate Park. This meeting is a first step to influence the way in which AML funds are managed in the region, to put unemployed miners back to work through reclamation and reforestation efforts, and to begin to foster creative, community-led reclamation solutions that will benefit communities that have seen up to 25% of our land destroyed by mountaintop removal.

Go here to learn more about the gathering and to register if you’d like to attend!


People’s Climate March includes a strong contingent from across Appalachia
Mountain leaders joined 400,000 in New York City for the People’s Climate March. Those fighting mountaintop removal were among some of the frontline communities to lead this historic march for climate protections.

Appalachian Voices did a great write up and captured the photo above. Media resources across the world captured this event, including this Grist article that features several voices from Kentucky leaders. Through the Climate Justice Alliance, key representatives from frontline communities directly affected by climate change and the destructive practices that fuel climate change acted as media spokespeople for the march. Read Stanley Sturgill’s powerful statement on the march here.

In addition to the record breaking event, residents participated in a People’s Climate Summit and the Flood Wall Street action which made the link between climate chaos and the industries that are making massive profits off the destruction of our communities.

EQAT also hosted another action targeting PNC Bank’s funding of mountaintop removal while activists were gathered in New York.

These events were an important opportunity not only to raise the stakes for world leaders to finally act to fight climate change, but also a chance for community leaders from California to Appalachia to connect the dots on the challenges and opportunities facing our communities and discuss how we build power from the grassroots up.

Remembering Those We’ve Lost


It is with heavy hearts we say goodbye to our dear friend and mentor Lenny Kohm. Appalachian Voices has a beautiful tributeto the fun-loving, hard working chief. Please keep Lenny’s Appalachian Voices team, family and many friends in your thoughts. Details about a celebration of his life should be announced sometime this week, but in the meantime a memorial facebook page has been set up for folks to post their remembrances of Lenny.

Another hero, Jimmy Weekley, an early leader in the efforts to end mountaintop removal, has passed on. Jimmy fought since the late 90s against the Spruce #1 mountaintop removal site above his home in Pigeon Roost Hollow near Blair, WV. You can read more about his impact here and in this powerful NPR story here. Photo by Mark Schmerling.

This last week we also lost one of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards’ (SAMS) most beloved and valuable members, Judiana Stines. She has been on the board of SAMS since 2010 and was one of the groups most dedicated workers. She will be sorely missed.
News Updates:

Most coal mines, coal processing facilities and coal slurry impoundments in Kentucky are currently covered under a 5 year single general permit, which expired in at the end of July. Despite strong citizen testimony at a public hearing.the Beshear administration this week issued two new general permits for coal facilities that fail to fully address the ongoing and substantial harm to humans and aquatic life from polluted mine wastewater.


Banner Hung in Protest Of Jim Justice
Members of Mountain Justice, Rising Tide North America and RAMPS hung a banner in downtown Roanoke in support of community demands in Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee that billionaire coal baron Jim Justice stop poisoning water. The banner reads; “Jim Justice Profits, Appalachia Pays.” and “Jim Justice, Toxic Spill Billionaire”.

SOCM Plans Annual Meeting
On October 18th SOCM members will gather for a day of fun, fellowship and planning for the future of the organization.

Tennessee Moving Closer to Groundbreaking Energy Efficiency Projects
Appalachian Voices is advocating for on bill financing programs that show huge potential for energy efficiency programs in electricity co-ops in Tennessee and North Carolina.

Appalachia’s Bright Future 2.0 Huge Success
This event brought together a diverse group to dream and plan for the future of the region. ABF 2.0 was less a conference and more a tour of good things happening to build a strong local economy in the mountains. It included structured conversations and “choose your own adventure” tours of exciting economic transition projects across Eastern Kentucky.


Mountain Justice Celebrates 10 Years
Over 100 attended a recent event to celebrate 10 years of organizing and actions with Mountain Justice. Past and current volunteers gathered at the Appalachian Folk Life Center, pictured above.

Mountain Justice Fall Summit Planned
RAMPS and Keepers of the Mountains are hosting the 9th annual Mountain Justice Fall Summit on Kayford Mountain, October 24th-26th to show the problems of mountaintop removal first hand.

Blackwater River Fish Kill and Coal Mine Spills Show Need for Increased Enforcement
Recent water problems in Davis, WV and in Logan County, WV showed once again that our water is at risk to lack of regulations.

Black Lung Continues to Increase
Incredibly, basic protections for our miners do not exist to stop the spread of this preventable and devastating disease.

Continued Violations on Strip Mine Near Popular Park
Careful citizen monitoring has resulted 5 violations and one Cessation Order in 5 months on a surface mine near Charleston, WV. Community members are appalled by the irresponsible behavior of the company and the WV Department of Environmental Protection.

Federal Appeals Court Gives Environmental Groups Standing to Seek Added Historical Protections
Friends of Blair Mountain, The Sierra Club and other groups seeking to protect Blair Mountain, site of the 1921 battle between miners and coal companies, can now seek legal action to protect this historic treasure from mountaintop removal coal mining.

Press Release for Our Water, Our Future Event

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

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

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CONTACT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow: #stopMTR, #AppRising, #OurWaterOurFuture

Telling Our Water Stories

Scroll through to see some of the amazing photographs shared for #OurWaterOurFuture

Appalachian residents have dealt with toxic water from mountaintop removal and other coal destruction for decades.

As part of the Our Water, Our Future, we asked our friends across the country to share why they fight for clean water. You can view these photos on Flickr or on our Facebook page.

Do you want to share too? Email photos to contact@theallianceforappalachia.org or share online tagged #ourwaterourfuture to tell the EPA what water means to you.

Our Water, Our Future Heads to DC!

It's past time to clean up this mess.

Folks across Appalachia are packing up to head to Washington, DC! We can’t wait to see some of you there.

On Monday September 8th, we’ll be sitting down with members of the Obama administration to discuss the changes we need to protect our water and our future for Appalachia. And on Tuesday, September 9th, we’ll be rallying at the White House with supporters from across the country!

Read our press release here.

Follow along at our facebook page to keep up with all the action!

Don’t Forget The Moonshine Mixer! 
Of course, we’re not all work and no play! We’re hosting a fundraiser as a celebration on Monday night.

Join Appalachians leading the fight against mountaintop removal coal mining and working towards a sustainable transition in Appalachia. It will be a great night to celebrate our work together!In addition, sample some traditional Appalachian beverages with the experts!Be sure to invite your friends to this fun event!

Looking for more ways to support this work? 

This year our budget is tighter than ever, even as community groups are busy taking action against the numerous toxic spills and water crises we have faced. Your donations go a long way in our grassroots work! Just $10 helps make our training for Appalachian leaders possible and $75 will provide a full food scholarship for one of our Appalachian leaders traveling to DC. Donate here to contribute to this event.

Statement of Solidarity

At The Alliance for Appalachia we recognize the systemic, institutionalized and individual racism that is still very alive in our nation today and we see our struggle for justice in the Appalachian mountains as bound up with struggles for liberation, self-determination, and freedom from police violence in communities of color within our mountains and across our globe. We express our solidarity with the community of Ferguson and all communities organizing against police violence and oppression.

Anti racist anti mtr

At The Alliance for Appalachia we work to build 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.

We know that progress toward such a vision is only possible through combating the violence of racism.

Along with our allies in the Climate Justice Alliance, we know that:

More than one person per day is killed by local police officers in the U.S. And according to data reported by local police agencies to the FBI, white police officers on average kill two Black people per week. Black men make up more than 50% of the youth under twenty years of age killed by police.

We encourage our friends in the mountains and our friends across the globe to contribute to support ongoing efforts in Ferguson by donating to the organizer fund: http://obs-onthemove.org/support-obs/

In Solidarity,

The Alliance for Appalachia

Water, Wins and Moonshine – August Newsletter

Register for Our Water Our Future! 

Registration is now open! Register to join us for the full event or sign up to join us at the national day of action, September 9, 2014.

Can’t make it to DC? We’re asking allies across the country to show their solidarity by sharing images of themselves with water that is important or sacred to them. From Appalachia to Detroit to the Gulf South to the Southwest and the droughts in California, people are fighting to protect their water! 

Why do you fight for clean water? Email photos to contact@theallianceforappalachia.org or share on-line tagged #ourwaterourfuture to tell the EPA what water means to you.

Don’t forget to invite your friends on Facebook to the Our Water Our Future action in DC on Sept. 9th!

Join Us At Our Moonshine Mixer! 

We’re hosting a fundraiser as a celebration in the lead-up to the Our Water, Our Future Event.

Join Appalachians leading the fight against mountaintop removal coal mining and working towards a sustainable transition in Appalachia. It will be a great night to celebrate our work together!

In addition, sample some traditional Appalachian beverages with the experts!

Be sure to invite your friends to this fun event!

Updates from the Movement: 

Campaign Victory from Alliance Member Group Hands Off Appalachia
Read more about this exciting update from Hands Off Appalachia! This from the campaign update:UBS, the world’s third top funder of mountaintop removal in 2011, has taken steps demonstrating its commitment to significantly reduce financing of the mining practice. Last month, the bank confirmed to environmental campaigners that it will continue backing away from mountaintop removal financing. Moreover, UBS has declined to participate in the most recent transactions with its former clients Alpha Natural Resources and Arch Coal, which were among the top producers of mountaintop removal coal in 2013.

“UBS’ statement is a step in the right direction on mountaintop removal, but it’s the bank’s actions that show they’re following through,” said Ricki Draper of Hands off Appalachia. “We have seen that grassroots organizing can make a difference in stopping the financing of this deadly form of mining that poisons coalfield communities and contributes to the destruction of Appalachia’s culture and heritage.”

Justice for Justice Campaign Continues to Grow
The Justice to Justice Campaign was launched by the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS) in May and quickly drew attention to the reckless practices of West Virginia billionaire Jim Justice.

SAMS is joined by members of The Alliance for Appalachia, including Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KY), Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (TN), and Coal River Mountain Watch (WV) in their efforts to bring scrutiny and attention to the coal operator’s destructive practices, and to call on him to clean up his act. Justice operates mines in all four states, and has recently caught to attention of federal and state agencies for failure to report discharges, bond forfeiture for failure to properly reclaim strip mine operations, and violations for dangerous fly rock in West Virginia. The campaign has had several victories this past month, including action against outlaw mines in Virginia and Tennessee.

Groups Rally for Climate
All summer, organizations across Appalachia have been taking action to stand up for real climate solutions that support mountain communities and a sustainable transition. The group Climate Knoxville held a rally in early July for climate solutions – including a proposal to weatherize inner-city homes in Knoxville.

Groups across Appalachia, in conjunction with our allies in the Climate Justice Alliance, which includes groups working on environmental justice issues across the country, are gearing up for the People’s Climate March in New York City, September 23. This massive march is sponsored by dozens of groups, but environmental justice groups are calling for a delegation that addresses the concerns and struggles of frontline communities as part of the Our Power campaign. The Alliance for Appalachia is joining in the call to action for a just transition to sustainable healthy communities under the slogan, “It takes roots to weather the storm.”

Appalachians Tell EPA to Take Action for the Climate
Dozens of Appalachians traveled from Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee to attend EPA climate hearings in Atlanta, GA, Pittsburgh, PA and Denver, CO with the support of the Sierra Club and many other organizations. They traveled for hours to tell the EPA how strong action for the climate must happen quickly and it must consider Appalachian communities. There is a great account of the powerful testimony from KFTC members here, including the words of Teri Blanton: “Today good people are coming together in Harlan County and all across Central Appalachia to build a brighter future. Our people have been producing energy for this nation for over 100 years. We are proud of our heritage. But there is no reason we should stay stuck in time as the world changes. Why shouldn’t we seize this moment to create jobs in wind, solar, and hydropower? We can put our communities back to work by making our homes energy efficient and installing small-scale renewables. That’s true energy independence.”

Public comments will be accepted by the EPA through October 16,2014, go here to learn about submitting your own comments.

The Alliance for Appalachia’s AppFellow Profiled in Yes! Magazine
This powerful article in Yes! Magazine profiles the amazing people participating in the Appalachian Transition Fellowship. It is a great summary of this ambitious program and the incredible group of leaders that are participating.

The Alliance for Appalachia is honored to be working with Kendall Bilbrey, who we introduced in our July Newsletter.

Currently Kendall’s work is focusing on the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Program with another fellow, Eric Dixon with the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center. In this collaboration, Eric is taking the lead on the research, and Kendall is steering the outreach, engagement, and coordination of events and meetings.

To view a current summary of their findings, you can view a powerpoint that covers the history and current state of the AML program. We’re excited to see what comes next from these promising new Appalachian leaders!

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!

News Updates:

Over 200 people stood up for the mountains at PNC bank, demanding that the bank withdraw funding for mountaintop removal coal mining.
Mullins Family Finishes Up the Breaking Clean Tour
Read these powerful reflections from the family, which recently spent over a month traveling the US to speak out against mountaintop removal and support sustainable alternatives for Appalachia.
Above: The Mullins family enters Mississippi!

Report Examines Coal Industry Through Civil Rights Lens
The NAACP released an important report assessing the West Virginia coal industry; the report included a focus on how the energy sector affects the health of minorities, revealing that 60% of African Americans live near a coal-fired power plant, disproportionately increasing health risks for the community.

KFTC Annual Meeting Coming Up!
KFTC’s statewide Annual Membership Meeting will be held August 22 through August 24 this year at the General Butler State Park in Carrollton, KY. This year’s theme is “From the Grassroots to the Mountaintop: Empowering Grassroots Leaders” and will focus on ways to build grassroots power and leadership capacity.

Our Power Gathering Held in Richmond, CA
Residents from Appalachia joined representatives from frontline communities across the country at the Our Power Gathering last week. The powerful conference included an action to show community resistance to the destructive Chevron refinery that has endangered the health of the people of Richmond and to build power for community led solutions to the climate crisis. This event is part of the build up towards the People’s Climate March on September 24th in Manhattan.
USGS halts research on mountaintop removal’s public-health effects
The Charleston Gazette reported on the Obama administration’s decision to pull funding from an important USGS study on the health impacts of mountaintop removal.

House panel OKs Pro-Mountaintop Removal Bill
A House committee voted to approve Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-W.Va.) bill, the “Coal Jobs Protection Act” that would prevent the EPA from enforcing the law on mountaintop removal and leave streams even more vulnerable to coal waste.

What’s Next for West Virginia?
This editorial highlights the “What’s Next, West Virginia?” conversation series that focuses on West Virginian’s ideas for creating a sustainable and diverse economy past coal. More information on the series is here.

Health Issues from Mountaintop Removal a Top Concern in Eastern Kentucky
Officials were surprised to find out that health concerns from mountaintop removal impacts were one of the top concerns mentioned at recent SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region)  listening sessions.

Moving Mountains, a new film about mountaintop removal coal mining, premieres in Charleston, WV August 21
This film is based of Penny Loeb’s 2007 award winning book of the same name.


Above: The Kanawha Forest Coalition delivers thousands of petition signatures to WV Governor Tomblin, asking him to rescind a surface mine permit near the popular urban forest in Charleston, WV. Follow this campaign here.

July Newsletter

Register for Our Water Our Future! 
Registration is now open! Sign up to 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!

Photo by Joanne Golden HillMountain activists were busy in DC last month on a lobby trip sponsored by Appalachian Voice, Earth Justice and the Alliance for Appalachia. We met with 24 House offices, the US EPA and the Office of Surface Mining to remind them that mountaintop removal is an urgent issue that needs immediate action. Learn more about this great trip with this write up from Appalachian Voices.

Updates from the Movement:

Keepers of the Mountains Hosts Kayford Mountain Fourth of July Music Festival While Traveling Around the World
Continuing an annual tradition, the Fourth of July Music Festival was a huge success this year, with movement friends new and old gathering together to celebrate our work with fellowship and music. This year the festival was solar powered – the first solar powered music festival in West Virginia! –  thanks to ongoing efforts of Keeper of the Mountains.

In addition to hosting these important gatherings, members of Keeper of the Mountains have been traveling across the world to advocate for divestment from fossil fuels and to protect the mountains. Last month, Paul Corbit Brown traveled to Bern, Switzerland to work with other Human Rights Defenders to draft a United Nations Resolution for the protection of our resources.

Justice for Justice Pickets Greenbrier Classic

SAMS launched the Justice to Justice campaign in early May, to demand the coal baron clean up his mess, pay off his debts, and stop poisoning water. In June, they delivered 300 petitions demanding that Jim Justice clean up his act to A&G Coal Corp, joined by residents of West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. You can sign the petition here – this drop was only the first.

In July, members of the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS) were joined by about 20 allies from across Appalachia in a picket and vigils outside the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV. The Greenbrier is home to an annual PGA golf tournament that brings thousands to the small West Virginia town, all of it made possible by the profits Jim Justice has extracted from Appalachian communities. Visit justicetojustice.com to support this growing campaign!

Stay Together Appalachian Youth (STAY) Project Plans 4th Annual Summer Institute
In June, STAY members traveled to Detroit for the Our Power Detroit gathering, a 3-day event hosted by the Climate Justice Alliance that gathered together youth from frontline communities across the country to discuss just transitions for their communities. The STAY Project also hosted a gathering at the Highlander Center for youth of color.

The STAY Project will host the 4th Annual STAY Summer Institute (SSI) from July 31st to August 3rd at Camp Bethel in Wise, VA.  SSI is STAY’s largest gathering of the year and is open to 14-30 year old’s from Central Appalachia, including eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee, West Virginia, southwest Virginia, and western North Carolina.

Kentuckians Demand a Better General Permit
Members of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth have been busy advocating for a better water quality standards at public hearings last month. The General Permit is a problematic “one-size-fits-all” approach to pollution from coal mining in Kentucky that does not provide needed protections for Kentucky waterways. The General Permit is being updated and renewed this year and Kentuckians have been working hard submitting public commentary and gathering written comments to fix serious issues with the permit.

Mountain Justice Hosts 10th Annual Summer Camp
The annual Mountain Justice Summer Camp is a great opportunity for mountain activists to learn and teach about the issues affecting our region.

This year’s camp culminated in an action organized byRAMPS and Mountain Justice at Alpha Natural Resources headquarters in Bristol, Virginia, where activists protested the opening of new mines on Coal River Mountain. Local residents and activists have been fighting surface mining on Coal River Mountain since the late 1990s.

Win in Virginia! 
In Southwest Virginia, a controversial 26-mile section of the Coalfield Expressway must undergo a full environmental review and examine alternatives that don’t include mountaintop removal mining. The highway proposal is a partnership with coal companies to allow mountaintop removal.  More than 85,000 citizens sent comments to VDOT and FHWA expressing their concerns about the permit. Learn more about SAMS work to stop this destructive proposal.

Welcome Kendall! Appalachian Transition Fellowship Launches

The Alliance for Appalachia is excited to introduce you to our amazing Appalachian Transition fellow, Kendall Bilbrey:

Growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Wytheville, Virginia, Kendall has made it a priority to protect Central Appalachia and its people. Kendall is a 2012 graduate of George Mason University with a Bachelor of Science in Conservation Studies. Upon graduating from college, Kendall embarked on a journey to China where they studied red panda and giant panda behavior for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

Kendall is passionate about the Central Appalachian region and working towards a just economic transition in the region. Kendall also hopes to promote the sustainability and conservation of the rich biodiversity and culture of the region through their work. Outside of their work in conservation, Kendall enjoys Old Time Mountain music and connecting with people everywhere they go.

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!

News Updates:

Coal company needed permission from all landowners
A federal judge ruled a surface-mining permit to a coal company that did not get permission to mine from some owners was improper. Previously any surface owner could give permission for surface mining. This ruling could have national significance.

Court rules mountaintop removal polluted streams
An important federal court ruling acknowledged damages caused by high conductivity on aquatic life. This decision puts pressure on environmental regulators to enact meaningful conductivity standards.

The real costs of public protest
In this fascinating article, mining companies outline the ways that citizen protest hurts their bottom line, as well as ways to fight back against citizen organizing.

Jim Justice Pollutes Water in Tennessee
SOCM and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit saying that an underground mine in Campbell County, TN is polluting the New River. The groups also intend to file suit against companies owned by Justice that are in violation of the Clean Water Act from not filing water pollution reports.

MCHM More Toxic Than Originally Reported
The toxic chemical that poisoned drinking water for other 300,000 people in January has been shown to be more harmful to aquatic wildlife than originally reported by the industry.

Freedom Industries Only Fined $11,000
That’s less than 4 cents for each person affected by the disastrous water crisis this past winter.

USGS study confirms mountaintop removal’s disastrous impacts on streams
In a study confirming what residents have said for years, the USGS shows that Appalachian streams impacted by mountaintop mining have less than half as many fish species and about a third as many fish as non-impacted streams.

Residents in Charleston, WV fight strip mine in Kanawha State Forest
Local gem Kanawha State Forest is under threat from a 414 acre strip mine. The community has been busy fighting this mine and has formed the local group the Kanawha Forest Coalition with support from Coal River Mountain Watch’s WV Care Campaign and other local partners.

Free well water testing in Southern West Virginia
OVEC is working with Duke University to help residents concerned with water safety to test their wells.

85 year old mountain activist Roland Micklem begins hunger strike for the mountains
Three activists are fasting outside WV Governor Tomblin’s office in protest of mountaintop removal.

A fellow for Appalachia’s Bright Future

Photo courtesy of www.appfellows.org

Photo courtesy of www.appfellows.org

We’re so excited to be moving forward with the Appalachian Transition Fellowship program through our partners at the Highlander Center!  This program places emerging community leaders with host communities to provide capacity with the host group and build the skills of the fellow. Fellows will have the opportunity to network, mentor and train with leaders from across Appalachia and across sectors of work. The Alliance for Appalachia’s fellow will work with our Economic Transition team and allies across the region to create a regional plan of action towards building a resilient and healthy Appalachian economy.