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.”
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.