Grassroots Progress Report Evaluates Obama’s Legacy in Appalachia
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.
Five years ago, 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. Last week, The Alliance for Appalachia released a report evaluating the progress that the Obama Administration has and has not made in the last 5 years regarding the MOU and other big promises to protect Appalachian communities.
Much work is needed to complete the MOU process, to ensure effective regulatory enforcement in our region, to create sound rule-makings, to strengthen citizen engagement and to invest in a bright future for Central Appalachia. Our coalition of organizations represents thousands of citizens who are ready to work. This report is an invitation for the Obama Administration to do the same.
“This is about the long term health of our people; it’s about the future of our economy. It’s not just this generation, but future generations. Inaction should not be the legacy of the Obama Administration,” says Davie Randsdell, Kentucky native and contributor to the report.
The Alliance for Appalachia attends the Building Equity and Alignment Gathering
Over 50% of “environmental” funding and resources go to 2% of “environmental” organizations; the other 50% of funding and resources go to the other 98% of organizations, mostly base-building groups. This fact was the seed from which a new national project called the Building Equity and Alignment for Impact initiative grew!.
Building Equity and Alignment for Impact (BEAI) is a unique, movement-building initiative involving representatives of the environmental justice grassroots organizing sector, national environmental organizations and the philanthropic sector who have come together because we know that in order for our organizations to have impact, we must lift up the leadership, achievements, and importance of grassroots organizations; the value of principled collaboration between grassroots and big green groups; and, the reality that in order to build a powerful movement that can effectively address the most critical environmental crises of our times, we need to significantly increase resources to the grassroots organizing sector.
We are honored to be a part of this visionary work and to have attended the BEAI strategy meeting this November. We see this effort as an important piece of building the sort of power we need to strengthen our environmental justice movement.
AppFellows Gather to Map the Sustainable Energy Landscape in our Region
The AppFellows Program hosted it’s second regional gathering December 4-5, Strengthening Sustainable Energy, at the historic Benham Schoolhouse Inn in Harlan County, KY. This gathering focused on conversations around sustainable energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and legacy costs of energy production with an eye towards economic transition. AppFellow Joshua Outsey working with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, MACED, the City of Benham and COAP (Christian Outreach with Appalachian People) highlighted the exciting Benham Energy Project, where one former coal camp has the opportunity to weatherize homes and choose responsible energy sources after discovering their contract with Kentucky Utilities will expire soon.
Other AppFellows who presented their work at the gathering were: Kendall Bilbrey and Eric Dixon’s AML Project (The Alliance for Appalachia and ACLC), Tyler Cannon (OVEC), Carol Davey (ACEnet), Tom Torres (University of Tennessee), and their host communities. Topics moved from basics of the abandoned mine lands fund to highlighting savings and success after West Virginia businesses make the switch to being energy efficient. Aside from the fellows, there was a large representation from Central Appalachian organizations, agencies, and businesses working towards a sustainable energy climate here in our mountains.
Updates from the Movement:
We Won’t Stand for Corruption! Our member groups are taking action against falsified water pollution reports.
As the New York Times recently reported, Alliance member groups Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Appalachian Voices and other allies are threatening to sue coal company Frasure Creek unless the state of Kentucky acts on the tens of thousands of violations the coal company has racked up.
“Frasure Creek’s actions — and the Cabinet’s failures to act — undermine the regulatory framework that safeguards the people and waters of Kentucky” says the letter threatening the lawsuit. Appalachian citizen groups have given the state 60 days to act.
Proposed Expansion of Largest Mountaintop Removal Mine in the Country
photo courtesy of OVEC’s Vivan Stockman and Southwings
For 29 years, some of the most destructive coal mining has occurred in the Mud River watershed. The new permit could allow for the destruction of 470 acres and include 30 waste water discharges. The permit further encroaches on the Big Ugly Wildlife Management Area. Thirty three homes will be within a half mile of blasting, dumping and water pollution discharge if this site is allowed to move forward.
Mountain Leader and Family Featured in New Video
We are storytellers and last month, the story of one of our movements leaders, Donna Branham of Mingo County, WV was captured in a new short film.
Photo credit: The New YorkerNews Updates: Massey CEO Don Blankenship Finally Indicted
Four years after the Upper Big Branch explosion, longtime Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has been indicted on charges that he violated federal mine safety laws, creating the dangerous conditions that led to the deaths of 29 miners.
Judy Bonds helped to found Coal River Mountain Watch in 1998. From that point on she dedicated her life to protecting her community from the destruction brought on by the coal industry. Today, CRMW occupies a historic two-story building in Naoma, West Virginia, just a few miles from her old house and on the front lines of the resistance against mountaintop removal. That building has come up for sale and CRMW is working to purchase and preserve this wonderful space which has played such an important role in this community and this struggle. You can donate to help make it a reality. Photo credit: Earth Quaker Action Team
EQAT take action to Push PNC to Divest from MTR
On Saturday, December 6, approximately 300 people participated in over 30 actions in 12 states and the District of Columbia to demand that PNC Bank stop financing companies engaged in mountaintop removal coal mining.
Coal Costs Keep Adding Up
This op-ed in Kentucky catalogs the great costs of the coal industry, from miners safety and health to environmental tolls.
Photo credit: Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
Judge Rejects Deals Between Kentucky Officials and Coal Company
As Kentuckians for the Commonwealth reports: “The Franklin Circuit Court on Monday issued two long-awaited orders rejecting settlement deals between the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and Frasure Creek Mining arising from the coal company’s thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act from 2008 through 2011.”