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Losing the Stream Protection Rule

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

The Stream Protection Rule was developed by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) over the course of seven years during the Obama administration. The rulemaking was an effort to better protect public waterways from mountaintop removal and other destructive coal mining practices. The rule would have updated the 1983 Stream Buffer Zone Rule.

OSMRE considered new scientific studies regarding water quality and other impacts of coal mining across the country. The main purpose of the new rule was to better protect public water from the impacts of mountaintop removal and longwall underground mining. Both mining practices are particular to Appalachia, and can devastate streams by burying headwater streams under rubble, or dewatering streams when underground mines collapse.

OSMRE held many public hearings regarding the draft rule and heard comments from citizens, environmental groups and the mining industry. The final rule was extensive, covering stream impacts, as well as reclamation and monitoring requirements. But it was also moderate, and would not have ended mountaintop removal or valley filling.

The rule took effect in January 2017, but was revoked by Congress in February through the Congressional Review Act. President Trump signed the legislation rescinding the rule, and the 1983 version is now once again in effect.

While rivers and streams near coal mining sites have some protections under the old rule, as well as various requirements under the Clean Water Act, none have been sufficient to fully protect public water from coal mining pollution. Alliance groups and their allies will continue to pursue all means of protecting public water, including citizen enforcement of existing rules, and implementation of new state and federal regulations.




Help us stop a 2,000-acre mountaintop removal mine before it starts

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

We have a chance to defeat a 2,000-acre mountaintop removal permit owned by Alpha Natural Resources. The permit was first issued in 2008 but no mining activity has occurred. Federal law states that a permit “shall terminate” if mining has not begun within three years of the permit being issued.

Urge the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to revoke the Eagle 2 permit.

Coal River Mountain Watch requested that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) terminate the Eagle 2 permit, prompting the department to instead retroactively grant Alpha an extension, in clear violation of the law. The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) affirmed the DEP’s action.

Fortunately, a federal judge vacated OSMRE’s decision and compelled the agency to reconsider terminating the permit in light of evidence spelled out in a lawsuit brought by Coal River Mountain Watch. As part of this process, OSMRE has asked the DEP for supplemental information.

Now under a new administration, the DEP can correct the mistake of its predecessors and terminate the Eagle 2 permit. Please contact DEP Secretary Austin Caperton and urge him to correct this mistake, and to uphold his agency’s mission to promote a healthy environment.




Can Appalachian communities count on you?

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

Over the past year, we’ve been busy protecting our land and water from the impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining and building a new economic future for our region.

While the coal industry’s downturn has slowed mining in Appalachia and allowed space for new conversations about our region’s future, mountaintop removal is not finished. We have yet to see how Donald Trump’s administration may impact our fight.

You can help ensure we move forward by making a year-end donation to iLoveMountains.org. Here are a few issues we will focus on with your support in the coming year.

The final Stream Protection Rule was released this week, in the final days of the Obama administration. Its aim is to protect public waterways from the impacts of mountaintop removal and other forms of coal mining. In 2017, the rule will be under immense threat from the Trump administration and coal’s supporters in Congress.

Your tax-deductible donation will help our work to keep the rule in place.

Throughout 2016, the RECLAIM Act gained support throughout the region. Nearly 30 local government entities across Central Appalachia have passed resolutions in support of the bill, which would direct $1 billion toward reclaiming mined land and repurposing it for economic development projects. We will make sure this bill continues to move forward in the next Congress.

Our communities are counting on us. Can we count on you to support our work?




Protect this rare aquatic salamander

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to list the Black Warrior waterdog — a rare aquatic salamander found only in the Black Warrior River basin in Alabama — as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The agency has also proposed designating nearly 670 miles of river as critical habitat for the waterdog. Because of the severity and immediacy of threats currently impacting the species, both of these actions are key to fully protecting it under the Endangered Species Act.

Much of the waterdog’s range is impacted by surface mining operations, some spanning thousands of acres. Inclusion on the federal endangered species list will not only protect the waterdog, it will also provide a new tool to communities seeking to stop the destruction of North Alabama’s mountains for coal. These mountains are the tail end of the Appalachian Mountain range, and they feed beautiful headwater streams that are rich with aquatic life — making Alabama the top state in the U.S. for freshwater aquatic biodiversity.

To take action, please use BOTH of the links below and copy and paste the sample comment provided, or write your own.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Electronic Comment Portal (for Listing as Endangered)

sample comment: The Black Warrior waterdog deserves to be listed as an endangered species. Known to be a rare species for over thirty years, it is time for this salamander to achieve full protections under the Endangered Species Act. Since the Black Warrior waterdog is only found within Alabama’s Black Warrior River basin, it is a unique natural resource worth protecting from pollution, harmful coal mining activities, and habitat degradation. Thank you for proposing to list the Black Warrior waterdog as endangered, and I trust the Fish and Wildlife Service will do so.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Electronic Comment Portal (for Critical Habitat)

sample comment: The Black Warrior waterdog deserves to have critical habitat designated, as proposed. It is time for this rare salamander to have its habitat protected under the Endangered Species Act. Since the Black Warrior waterdog is only found within Alabama’s Black Warrior River basin, it is critical to protect its habitat from pollution, harmful coal mining activities, and resulting degradation. Thank you for proposing to designate nearly 670 river miles as critical habitat for the Black Warrior waterdog, and I trust the Fish and Wildlife Service will do so.




Submit your comments on NWP 21 now

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

The Army Corps of Engineers is issuing a renewal of existing nationwide permits, which are general permits that allow the placement of fill material in public waterways under the Clean Water Act. Nationwide permit 21 covers coal mining activities in public waterways. In 2012, the Corps greatly improved NWP 21 by disallowing its use for mines that used destructive valley filling. The new 2017 permit maintains an exclusion of valley filling and has several other opportunities for better protecting public waterways.

Submit your comments on Nationwide Permit 21 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Nationwide permit 21 can be strengthened by reducing the extent of streams which can be impacted. Currently NWP 21 allows 300 feet of stream be lost due to mining activity. Even more stream can be buried if authorized by the Corps. The current restrictions should be strengthened so that fewer streams are lost due to mining. Our headwater streams are too important to lose.

Tell the Corps to provide the strongest protection possible to our rivers and streams

Comments are due by Monday, August 1st.




One day left: Force coal companies to clean up their mess

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is finally taking steps to limit self bonding — and we need you to speak up today to make sure the regulations are as strong as possible.

Bonding is the process by which coal companies provide financial assurance that they will reclaim the land they have damaged by mining. Currently, weak and inconsistent laws surrounding this practice put the public at risk of having to pick up the tab for the immense destruction of mountaintop removal and other damaging coal mining practices, while the coal industry keeps the profits.

Tomorrow is the last day to submit comments; please speak up today to protect our communities from the outrageous practice of self bonding.

The most irresponsible approach is called self bonding; when a coal company simply promises it will reclaim our land after mining. And if the company can’t clean up its mess? Then the taxpayer is left with the enormous burden of cleaning up the mess. Companies must be forced to set aside bonds for the full cost of reclamation.

The coal industry is laughing all the way to the bank, and we’re left with dirty water and unstable lands.

Can you help us hold companies responsible to clean up their mess? Let’s get rid of self bonding and demand full-cost bonding!




Sign our petition to protect Coal River Mountain

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Coal River Mountain is being threatened by a new mountaintop removal permit that would destroy 561 acres of this beautiful West Virginia community.

We need you to sign our petition to protect this mountain and the communities that depend on it from destruction.

Alpha Natural Resources — the company that is proposing to mine the land — is currently in bankruptcy, making it an especially dangerous and untrustworthy actor in the region. A company that cannot keep its commitments to workers’ health, pensions, and to the land it has already destroyed must not be permitted to conduct this especially destructive and unsafe form of coal mining.

The community around Coal River Mountain has already lost thousands of acres to mountaintop removal. This has created increased rates of cancer, heart disease, birth defects, and other deadly illnesses, as well as serious economic issues in the Coal River Valley.

A new permit will further endanger and impoverish surrounding communities and take away from the potential to rebuild in the area to create a brighter future.

Speak up today to tell the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection that mountaintop removal coal mining is unacceptable on Coal River Mountain.




A promise isn’t enough: Demand coal companies clean up their mess

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Once our mountains are destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining, no one can put them back. But coal operators have a responsibility to clean up their mess. Otherwise our communities are left surrounded by toxic eyesores and polluted water.

Bonding is the process by which coal companies provide financial assurance that they will reclaim the land they have damaged by mining. Currently, weak and inconsistent laws surrounding this practice put the public at risk of having to pick up the tab for the immense destruction of mountaintop removal and other damaging coal mining practices, while the coal industry keeps the profits.

The most irresponsible approach is called self bonding; when a coal company simply promises it will reclaim our land after mining. And if the company can’t clean up its mess? Then the taxpayer is left with the enormous burden of cleaning up the mess. Companies must be forced to set aside bonds for the full cost of reclamation.

We need you to comment today to protect our communities from the outrageous practice of self bonding.

The coal industry is laughing all the way to the bank, and we’re left with dirty water and unstable lands.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is taking steps to limit self bonding — and we need people like you to speak up to make sure the laws are as strong as possible.

Can you help us hold companies responsible to clean up their mess? Let’s get rid of self-bonding and demand full-cost bonding!




Tell Congress: It’s time to RECLAIM our mountains

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

This week, nearly 40 mountain leaders are in Washington, D.C., to speak up to protect our water and reclaim our future — and they need your help!

As the coal industry declines, thousands of jobs have been lost and millions of acres of land have been damaged. We’re excited about new policies that would clean up our land and create jobs, and we need you to join our work for a bright future for Appalachia!

We’re in D.C. to support the RECLAIM Act (H.R. 4456), a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would provide an immediate economic boost in communities struggling with the decline of the coal industry through the release of $1 billion to create opportunities reclaiming abandoned mine lands.

The RECLAIM Act is part of the White House’s POWER+ Plan, a proposed $10 billion initiative to assist communities that have historically relied on coal by growing and diversifying their economies. 

These policies present an amazing opportunity for Appalachia — but they won’t happen without your help! Sign the petition and join our fight to clean up coal’s toxic legacy of coal.

Appalachian communities have fueled America for more than 100 years. We are proud that our region is home to many rich assets, including our land, water, heritage and people.

But as you know, we have made great sacrifices to mine, transport and process the coal that powered the nation. Now it’s time to clean up the toxic legacy of coal that haunts so many of our communities, and create economic opportunities in those communities at the same time.

Sign our petition today and join the movement to reclaim Appalachia’s future.




Celebrating our 10th anniversary in Washington, D.C.

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Come celebrate and enjoy live music, a silent auction and fundraiser, homemade Appalachian-inspired food and drinks, and a walk down memory lane!

The Alliance for Appalachia was formed in 2006 with the goals of ending mountaintop removal coal mining, halting other destructive coal technologies, and creating a just and sustainable Appalachia. We are a coalition of grassroots groups from across Appalachia, and you’ve seen our struggles and victories pass through your inbox hundreds of times over the years.

Time and again, you’ve offered the vital support needed to win important victories to protect our mountains. Now we want to thank you! You’re invited to our 10th Anniversary party in Washington, D.C., during our “Protect Our Water, Reclaim Our Future” lobby trip.

When: Tuesday, June 7 — 6 – 9:00 p.m.

Where: Stewart Mott House — 122 Maryland Ave NE, Washington, D.C. 20002

RSVP for the event on Facebook and share the page with your friends! Not on Facebook? You can learn more about the event on our website.

We are also having a celebration for our volunteers and members in Central Appalachia. If you can’t make it to D.C., or want to celebrate with us again, come to Hindman, Ky., on July 13th!

Can’t join us? We’ll sure miss seeing you. But you can still be a part of the action by donating to help support our next 10 years of taking action for the people and mountains of Appalachia.





Appalachian Voices  •  Coal River Mountain Watch  •   Heartwood  •  Keeper of the MountainsKentuckians for the Commonwealth 

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition  •   Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowermentSierra Club Environmental Justice

Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards  •   SouthWings  •  Stay Project  •   West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

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