March Updates from The Alliance for Appalachia

This March We’re in Like a Lion, Out Like a Lion 

Contrary to the old phrase, March weather was in like a lamb, out like a lamb this year; it’s been a strangely warm winter and an early spring.

But at The Alliance for Appalachia, we’re in full on mountain lion mode all month long.

Welcome Lyndsay! 

We’re so excited to welcome our new Economic Transition Coordinator,  Lyndsay Tarus.

Lyndsay Tarus, based out of Huntington, WV, has a master’s degree in Public Administration from Marshall University, with a focus on governance in nonprofit organizations and public agencies. She was an active member of our member group SOCM during her time in Tennessee and is currently a volunteer and board member of our member group OVEC in West Virginia, working on advocacy projects including mountaintop removal, fracking, and safe drinking water. She has held positions with the WV State Legislature and Department of Commerce, giving her insight into both the grassroots and government process for change-making in our region. Her undergraduate degree from Middle Tennessee State University focused on local, regional, and global connections between peoples, places, and events from cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspectives.

Lyndsay was born on Florida beaches, but raised in the lakes and streams of East Tennessee. Her connection to water, along with a deep appreciation of the natural world drives her interest in environmental preservation and cultural adaptation to changing ecosystems. She advocates for social, economic, and environmental justice as an avenue to peace and coexistence.

She will be conducting research into opportunities for community led reclamation project that can help heal the toxic legacy of coal in our region. She will also be coordinating our economic transition work. You can reach her at

Traveling to Washington DC

We sent a team of ten people to Washington DC last week to meet with the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement, to talk about the Stream Protection Rule and the need to reclaim our abandoned mine lands.

We met with the EPA, to ask them for strong water protections and to take bold action during Obama’s final year in office.  The group also met with White House representatives to request strong investment in our abandoned mine lands and our miners to ensure a brighter future for our region.  In addition, we met with Congress to share information about the RECLAIM Act and the need to clean up dangerous former coal mines, and touched base with national allies to strengthen our relationships and share the important work happening locally in our region.

It was a busy week! Thanks to our mountain heroes who made this tiring but important journey once again! We’re already planning a bigger lobby week in June. Speaking of:

Save the Date! June 4-8th  

Ready to go roaring to DC yourself? Mark your calendars for June 4-8th.  We’re excited to announce we’re bringing a larger group of mountain residents and allies to DC to advocate to end mountaintop removal and invest in a brighter future for our region. More details (including registration) should be out next month.

Click here to share our post on your Facebook page to help spread the word!

Grassroots Policy Training: Register Today, Space is Limited!

You are invited! Registration is open till March 25th! But don’t wait till then to register – space is limited!

The Alliance for Appalachia is hosting a Grassroots Policy Training for our members and allies across the Appalachian region. The training will be hosted at the Highlander Center in New Market, TN on Saturday and Sunday April 9-10th and is designed to help people participate in regional and national policy setting.

Research into Bonding Launching Next Month

The continued decline of the coal industry has drawn our attention increasingly to the flawed practice of bonding in our region. Bonding is the process by which coal companies provide financial assurance that they will reclaim the lands they have damaged by mining. Because of weak and inconsistent laws and regulations surrounding this practice, the public is at risk for having to pick up the tab for the immense destruction of mountaintop removal, while the coal industry keeps the profits.

The Alliance for Appalachia has initiated new research into the troubled state of coal industry bonding in our region. Our results and recommendations for policy changes will be released in April 2016.

Presenting at the Appalachian Studies Association Conference

Last weekend our Economic Transition Team presented on their work at the Appalachian Studies Conference in Shepherdstown, WV.

The roundtable discussion, titled “The Power+ Plan and Citizen’s Movement for Just Transition in Appalachia and Beyond,” reflected on the remarkably successful mobilization for just transition policy in Appalachia in the past year, including dozens of county governments across Central Appalachia passing resolutions in support of the POWER+ Plan.  The roundtable will lead to an article for the Journal of Appalachian Studies; panelists will be gathering the ideas from the session to inform the article and our work in the region.

Updates from the Movement: 

STAY Project Updates: 
The STAY Project (Stay Together Appalachian Youth) is celebrating the creation of a new full-time staff position in the region. This decision to move from part-time to full-time will expand STAY’s capacity to coordinate trainings, leadership development opportunities, and resources to build community for Appalachia’s amazing youth.  Just in time to support a busy year of programming – including the STAY Summer Institute:

KFTC Offers Kentuckians “A Seat at the Table” to Empower Kentucky
Kentuckians will have the opportunity this spring to help shape a new Empower Kentucky Plan to map out an energy future for Kentucky that grows jobs, benefits health and addresses racial and economic inequality while doing our part to reduce the risks of climate change.

The Empower Kentucky Plan will be informed by diverse public input, including ideas generated at a series of “A Seat at the Table” community conversations hosted by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth in April and May.

Learn more here. 

POWER Initiative Announces $65.8 Million in Funding for Appalachian Economy
During the funds initial year in 2016, $6 Million was distributed through the fund, including to Alliance for Appalachia members and partners

This year, there are new opportunities for community groups, local governments and non-profits to gain funds to invest in our new economy, learn more about the initiative here.

Winner of Goldman Prize Assassinated

We’re heartbroken to hear of the murder of Honduras Indigenous leader for the environment, Berta Caceres, and the stories of continued violence and murder of another activist in her community. 

Caceres won the prize for her work against a series of four hydroelectric dams that would destroy a sacred river and cut off food and medicine access to local communities.  Mountain leaders Maria Gunnoe and the late Judy Bonds also received this prestigious prize for their work against mountaintop removal coal mining.