The Front Porch Blog, with Updates from AppalachiaThe Front Porch Blog, with Updates from Appalachia



Why do you care?

Monday, December 1st, 2014 | Posted by Kara Dodson | No Comments

WSJ_KaraWhether you're two days or 20 years deep in environmental or social justice organizing, we all ask ourselves the same question day in and day out: why do I care? Rhiannon Fionn, creator of Coal Ash Chronicles, brings the "Why I Care" video series to the social media scene in the spirit of story-sharing, collaboration, power building and advocacy. Watch a few videos and share your own story. [ More ]


Stories from South Central Regional Jail, WV

Friday, June 27th, 2014 | Posted by Kara Dodson | 1 Comment

Poisoned Water Comic The January spill of the coal-processing chemical MCHM in West Virginia poisoned the tap water of some 300,000 people. Stories are now emerging that some of them were inmates at the regional jail who were denied access to ample, clean water. [ More ]


North Carolinians Stand Together for Coal Ash Cleanup

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 | Posted by Kara Dodson | No Comments

10252094_506959482737403_4600067065101973655_nThis month residents and clean water advocates across North Carolina have stood together to demand that Duke Energy clean up its coal ash pollution. On May 1, Appalachian Voices joined hundreds to rally outside Duke's annual shareholder meeting and a little more than a week later we helped host a community paddle and picnic day on Belews Lake, where the the largest and dirtiest coal plant in North Carolina is located. [ More ]


Fouling Our Nest: Coal Ash Roundup and Next Steps

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 | Posted by Kara Dodson | No Comments

watertestingWe’ve watched national interest in North Carolina’s coal ash mess grow over the past month and a half, and it’s been a wild ride. The Dan River spill on Feb. 2 sparked a wave of support for closing the 33 ash ponds owned by Duke Energy polluting North Carolina’s surface and ground waters. Here are the most recent developments. [ More ]


No Coalfields Expressway in Virginia: Rally to Stop the Hijack!

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 | Posted by Kara Dodson | No Comments

Jane Branham Speaks at CFX Rally

Jane Branham – rally speaker and Vice President of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards. Photo Credit: The Sierra Club.

The Coalfields Expressway, more aptly nicknamed the “Road to Ruin” by its opponents, threatens Southwest Virginia with new mountaintop removal coal mines and weakened local economies. That’s why more than 89,000 Americans oppose the project and more than 75 defenders of Appalachia’s water, air, land and communities rallied outside the Federal Highways Administration in D.C. last Thursday. Our purpose was to urge the agency to make sure that Virginia to take a long, hard look at environmental impacts of this mountaintop removal mine masquerading as a highway.
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Winston-Salem Journal Series Highlights Belews Creek Coal Plant Pollution Concerns

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013 | Posted by Kara Dodson | No Comments

Through public meetings and community outreach, Appalachian Voices is working to help citizens living near coal plants like the Belews Creek Power Station stand up for their right to clean water.

Through public meetings and community outreach, Appalachian Voices is working to help citizens living near coal plants like the Belews Creek Power Station stand up for their right to clean water.

Over the past three weeks, the Winston-Salem Journal published a series of excellent articles focusing on the significant environmental and health threat of toxic coal ash in North Carolina — specifically from Duke Energy’s coal plants.

Appalachian Voices’ Red, White, & Water team has been working this year in communities surrounding the Belews Creek coal plant near Walnut Cove, N.C., and we’ve found a mountain of stories and data pointing to Duke Energy’s poor pollution record.

The articles, researched and written by Bertrand M. Gutierrez, paint a clear picture of the air and water contamination spreading out from the Belews Creek coal ash pond. The three-part series includes:

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More clean energy and less coal ash waste ahead for Asheville

Thursday, October 24th, 2013 | Posted by Kara Dodson | No Comments

On back-to-back days this week, the Asheville City Council approved a clean energy resolution, and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources ordered Duke Energy to provide drinking water to a family whose well water was contaminated by coal ash from Duke's Asheville Steam Station. Photo by the Sierra Club.

On back-to-back days this week, the Asheville City Council approved a clean energy resolution, and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources ordered Duke Energy to provide drinking water to a family whose well water was contaminated by coal ash from Duke’s Asheville Steam Station. Photo by the Sierra Club.

Asheville, N.C., harbors a lively community that has united to push for clean energy and to put an end to Duke Energy’s polluting ways.

Two wins came this week for Asheville residents when the City Council voted to increase investments in clean energy and, the next day, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources moved to protect a family’s drinking water from Duke’s toxic waste.

On Tuesday night, the City Council approved a resolution to build a partnership with Duke Energy to reduce carbon emissions by transiting from coal-fired energy to renewable energy and energy efficiency, and remediating coal ash pollution from Duke’s Asheville Steam Station.
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Highlights from the Southeast Coal Ash Summit

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 | Posted by Kara Dodson | No Comments

The power of the environmental justice movement is rooted in our ability to band together and engage a broad base of support. This past weekend, more than 80 citizens convened for the first ever Southeast Coal Ash Summit in Atlanta, Ga. Appalachian Voices, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Southern Environmental Law Center, and NC Conservation Network were sponsoring organizations for the weekend event.

The summit was our chance to unite the diverse and dedicated groups fighting coal ash pollution and defending our right to clean water in the Southeast. The outcome: a greater sense of our power as advocates, organizers, community leaders, and change agents. Here are a few highlights that best encapsulate the summit’s energy and accomplishments:

www.southeastcoalash.org

The network of organizations working to stop coal ash contamination has grown over the last few years and we’ve got a spectacular website showcasing our work.

Southeastcoalash.org is a public clearinghouse on coal plants with ash ponds, health and environmental impacts from ash pollution, news related to coal ash, and action opportunities to strengthen the movement for clean water. Check it out and see if there are any ash ponds near you!
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Another Clean Water Win! No More Sludge in the Ohio River

Thursday, September 12th, 2013 | Posted by Kara Dodson | No Comments

A Kentucky court ruling for clean water comes as the EPA finalizes revisions to rules governing power plant wastewater discharge. Tell the EPA to develop strong standards to protect clean water before September 20.

A Kentucky court ruling for clean water comes as the EPA finalizes revisions to rules governing power plant wastewater discharge. Tell the EPA to develop strong standards to protect clean water before September 20.

Here’s some good news for your Thursday — a Kentucky court ruled in favor of clean water in a landmark case that will protect the Ohio River from being further polluted by coal waste.

The ruling comes just in time for a nationwide revision to a 30-year-old U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guideline linked to the court’s decision.

Back in 2010, Louisville Gas & Electric’s Trimble County coal plant near Bedford, Ky., was permitted to store toxic waste byproducts in a wet pond that flowed into the Ohio River. That means the only barrier between a stream of heavy metals, including arsenic and selenium, and the drinking water source for millions of people was a settling pond. Essentially, the Kentucky Division of Water had given LG&E a free pass to slowly poison the river and the communities that rely on it.
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Rivers don’t have a pricetag, so how do we protect what they’re worth?

Thursday, August 16th, 2012 | Posted by Kara Dodson | No Comments

“After Bonny Blue broke loose the streams been dead…”

“No fishin’, kids can’t play, smells bad… I wouldn’t put a toe in that creek.”

“A lot of people drink tap, but I won’t, I don’t trust it.”

The first visit to St. Charles was alarming, and in many ways familiar. We’ve all read of acid mine drainage or fish kills below mine impoundment breaks. But how many of us have lived with the aftermath, day in and day out? The St. Charles creek receives waste from two massive underground mines, their associated processing plants, and slurry impoundments. Now, older folks long for the days before the mines when you could fish, swim, drink straight from the creek.

Lee County, Va. isn’t heavily mined, unlike Wise County which is right next door. The communities of St. Charles and Keokee are the exceptions in Lee County. The tucked away towns were always comforting when I visited; driving through Virginia backroads over mountains and around tight switchbacks is almost meditative. Despite the lull of summer’s heat and the drive’s beauty I would always be heading to another murky pond, orange seep or dead stream below burdensome surface mines. In St. Charles, I was visiting folks to hear more about the two 1996 slurry impoundment spills and see if I could help by testing the water. After a few hours of stories and a couple of monitoring trips it’s plain to see that coal inevitably hurts those living downstream.

Arch Coal owns the Bonny Blue Mine and Lone Mountain Mine, both of which are a couple miles upstream from St. Charles. As an intern with the Appalachian Water Watch program my main job was to test water quality below mines and train locals how to monitor mining-affected streams. I measured conductivity, temperature, pH and total dissolved solids using our program’s water quality probe. Conductivity and pH are the two most important measurements; both can indicate poor water quality and prompt further testing. For example, conductivity over 500 uS/cm (micro-Siemens per centimeter) can be detrimental to aquatic life and may violate the Clean Water Act’s narrative water quality criteria. Water pH below 6.0 or above 9.0 can’t support aquatic life and is unfit to consume.

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Another Coal Show in Abingdon

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 | Posted by Kara Dodson | No Comments

Yesterday I witnessed an award-winning political stunt attacking the EPA in defense of Big Coal. Representatives Griffith (VA), Roe (TN), and Whitfield (KY) led a field hearing in Abingdon, VA part of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power series meant to investigate the EPA’s new greenhouse gas emission standards. The congressmen stated that Abingdon was chosen for the hearing since coalfields residents are the ones who will ultimately suffer from the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas New Source Performance Standards (NSPS).

It seems our representatives had forgotten about the thousands of Americans who suffer from asthma attacks triggered by smog worsened from coal plant emissions. Or perhaps they haven’t read the news about record high temperatures leading to larger wildfires and more extreme droughts in the US. For years we have known climate change is real and now taking effect. That’s why 72% of polled Americans support carbon limits (ALA). That’s why the Supreme Court upheld the EPA’s right to regulate carbon under the Clean Air Act in 2007 and requested a progressive plan be set forth. And that’s what the EPA is doing.

Morgan Griffith said he was happy to see “that the people of Southwest Virginia have this opportunity to add their voices to the conversation about the Obama Administration’s energy policies,” but, I’m sure he wasn’t pleased to see over 50 citizens holding signs in support of EPA’s carbon limits. We sent a clear message that Appalachia would benefit much more from hearings focused on renewable energy jobs, overall regional economic diversification, and leadership to reduce carbon pollution linked to climate change and smog. I guess that’s too progressive for Mr. Griffith and the coal companies that fund him.
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