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 Progress, Bloomberg BNA, and Waging Nonviolence.