Letter sent to Appalachian Senators
The Alliance for Appalachia is composed of grassroots organizations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama, with a collective membership in the thousands. We promote a healthy, just Appalachia by supporting our member organizations in communities impacted by destructive resource extraction.
We’re working for communities where jobs are safe and workers are respected, where people’s basic needs are met, and where air, land, and water are clean and protected. While we are rooted in our local communities, we understand our work within the context of national political platforms, like the People’s Orientation for a Regenerative Economy.
The just-passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and the Build Back Better Act together present a transformational opportunity for communities in our region.
We urgently call on the 117th Congress to address environmental justice, tackle the root causes of climate change, and prioritize the health of our communities. We demand Congress reject policies and funding mechanisms that invest in false climate solutions by perpetuating fossil fuel extraction and exacerbating injustices.
Environmental justice for our communities:
- H.R. 2021, The Environmental Justice For All Act, ensures fossil fuel project permits will not be issued if the project cannot demonstrate the certainty of no harm to human health, and would protect communities impacted by environmental racism and oppression. EJ For All Act fact sheet.
- H.R. 2050, The ACHE Act, to halt mountaintop removal coal mining until health studies are conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services
- Reinvest in cleaner energy infrastructure, and do so in a way that does not abandon the workers and communities that currently depend on fossil fuel industries.
- Remove public funding and investments that will devastate and further harm our communities including financing continued fossil fuel development and extraction, like the mountaintop removal coal mining and Appalachian Petrochemical Storage Hub. This requires that all fossil fuel subsidies within the package be removed.
- Congress should direct regulatory authorities to hold previous coal company owners responsible, preventing them from offloading their cleanup, reclamation, and other responsibilities to a company that may not have the financial means to pay them.
Prioritize and invest in the health, well-being, and livelihoods of communities impacted by extreme coal mining and fossil fuel extraction:
- H.R. 3876/ S. 3172, The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund Solvency Act, which extends for ten years the Black Lung Excise Tax, which funds benefits and healthcare for 25,000+ coal miners afflicted with black lung, and their dependents.
- Congress should direct the Mine Safety and Health Administration to establish an enforceable rule limiting miners’ exposure to respirable silica at or below 50µg/m3.
- Provide protections for workers and communities impacted by coal ash.
- Make community-driven investments in Appalachian communities, particularly those most hard-hit by the downturn in fossil fuel economies and those with large black and brown populations. Include strong oversight of the full scope of social economic and environmental impacts of all investments. Ensure set-asides in all programs to direct at least 50 percent of all program funds and investments to disadvantaged frontline communities, to meet and exceed the goals set forth in the Justice40 Initiative set forth in Executive Order No. 14008.
- Support policies and community wealth-building initiatives that would promote and strengthen participatory democracy and solidarity economies, like incentivizing community-owned and governed renewable energy systems.
- Support provisions that would meet the direct needs of the most vulnerable people, and include initiatives that would keep our communities, especially people of color, safe from discriminatory harm.
- Expand investments and access to clean, public transportation and high-quality broadband so that no community is left behind.
For the mountains and each other,
The Alliance for Appalachia