How raising YOUR voice won a hard-fought victory over the coal lobby
Last week more than 150 people from 23 states and directly impacted communities in Appalachia converged in Washington DC to give Congress a piece of our mind. hundreds more joined us virtually by calling their Congressmen and Senators and asking them to cosponsor the Clean Water Protection Act (now HR 1375) and the Appalachia Restoration Act. In addition, citizens met with every federal agency which regulates mountaintop removal, and scored a BIG WIN in keeping mountaintop removal policy riders out of the federal budget.
The reason that regular citizens like us beat the coal lobby was laid out by Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer quite plainly:
…[The Republican negotiators] walked away from [mountaintop removal] because that would have been very unpopular.”
Citizens from Appalachia met with 100% of the House and Senate delegation representing central Appalachia, and in all participants met with 200 House and Senate offices. This included 20 members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, 11 members of the Water Resources committee and meetings with House and Committee leadership. The cosponsor number of the Clean Water Protection Act has already climbed to 66 members and is growing rapidly. We met with roughly half of all Senate offices, including five members of the Environment and Public Works Committee, 15 members of the Senate leadership. Several West Virginia participants had this memorable encounter with Senator Jay Rockefeller.
Dustin White, a constituent of Rockefeller’s who was there had this to say:
I want people to be clear on what this is. I am calling Rockefeller out. Be a man and come talk to the people effected, or keep hiding behind the shirt tails of the Industry. It is THAT simple.
Besides meeting with important bipartisan legislators on both sides of the Hill, citizens met with every federal agency that regulates mountaintop removal.
Kate Rooth, our National Field Coordinator adds:
We had meetings with EVERY federal agency that regulates mountaintop removal. Sadly it is more clear now than ever that we need a law if we are going to end mountaintop removal. We made our demands clear and will be following up with routine conference calls to track the progress of the agencies.
Whether it was in the White House, at the Office of Surface Mining, or on the Hill, the Alliance for Appalachia pulled off an amazing event that kept powerful budget negotiators from including anti-mountain riders to the budget, and just as certainly will keep making sure that we are creating the political will to end mountaintop removal immediately!
App Voices’ Field Organizer Austin Hall had this to say about the Week in Washington:
Never has the movement to end mountaintop removal faced such dire threats (budget amendments, stand alone bills, powerful coal state legislators, etc.) Our voice, up until the citizens Week in Washington, was being drowned out. These efforts raised our issue back into the limelight in Washington DC.
For more pictures of this years’ Week in Washington, please check out our Flickr feed below. Just click on the play button on the bottom left.