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

History, health at stake in Buckingham County

Monday, June 4th, 2018 | Posted by Cat McCue | 1 Comment

The omissions and errors in the permitting process for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline regarding an African-American community in central Virginia amounts to racism. A state panel on environmental justice calls for a new process. [ More ]

Small Alabama town struggles for environmental justice

Friday, March 30th, 2018 | Posted by Amy Adams | No Comments

Our friends down in Alabama, the Black Belt Citizens for Health and Justice, have hit a setback in their fight for environmental justice and could use support. [ More ]

A people’s tribunal on environmental justice impacts of fracked gas

Friday, October 20th, 2017 | Posted by Guest Contributor | 1 Comment

Lakshmi Fjord, property owner in Buckingham County, Va., where a giant compressor station would be built, talks about the ongoing effort to stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the people coming together to fight it. [ More ]

Environmental justice in Buckingham County

Thursday, October 13th, 2016 | Posted by Lara Mack | No Comments

A proposed compressor station along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline route would pose public health risks and increase noise pollution in a rural, historically black community. Citizens are fervently urging local officials to reject the project, which would severely impact the viability of the pipeline overall. [ More ]

Solidarity in the Tar Heel State

Monday, June 1st, 2015 | Posted by AV's Intern Team | No Comments

naacp-amyThe communities near Duke Energy's Belews Creek power plant and coal-ash dump in North Carolina have suffered a long time from water pollution. Now the state is poised to allow the natural gas industry to drill fracking wells nearby. Citizens are saying "enough." The NAACP announced a civil rights investigation at a recent press conference and took its protest to the state capitol at a "Moral Monday" rally. Appalachian Voices is standing in solidarity with these champions for environmental justice. [ More ]

N.C.’s Sutton Lake finally gets the protection it deserves

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 | Posted by Jaimie McGirt | 1 Comment

Cape Fear River photograph by Jaimie McGirt Wilmington, N.C., is the site of the L.V. Sutton Power Station — a retired coal-fired power plant operated by Duke Energy along the Lower Cape Fear River. Though Duke recently converted Sutton to burn natural gas, the carcinogenic-laden waste generated from decades of coal combustion remains in 135 acres on site. But this one lake, at least, is one of the few slated for cleanup in the state, while the future of 10 other sites remains a question. [ More ]

Forward on Climate!

Monday, February 18th, 2013 | Posted by | 4 Comments

By Matt Abele
Multimedia Communications intern, Fall 2012/Spring 2013

This past weekend’s Forward on Climate rally in Washington, D.C., made it more evident than ever that America is ready for a clean energy future. I arrived on a bus from Asheville, N.C., to join close to 50,000 people from across the country and world. As a collective, we showed up inspired and enthused, ready to bring the fight to the White House.

Join the nearly 80,000 people who have signed an open letter to the president calling for bold climate action!

People gathered around a central stage located next to the Washington Monument to listen to keynote speakers ranging from U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse to indigenous leaders from the U.S. and Canada. These speakers rallied up the crowd as they charged them to stand behind President Obama and make sure he sticks to his promise of a clean energy future by rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and promoting alternatives to coal, gas and oil.

Appalachian Voices staff attended the rally to support communities that have been devastated by mountaintop removal. We were there to join 167 fellow sponsoring organizations in a call for climate action, but also to remind those calling for major policy shifts that economic diversification in the region must be included in a national strategy to combat climate change.

More ...

Storage of TVA Coal Ash Waste Leads to Civil Rights Lawsuit

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 | Posted by Molly Moore | No Comments

December 22 marked the three-year anniversary of the disastrous coal ash spill at Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant. Residents of the damaged Swan Pond community are still struggling with the impacts of relocation and pollution. But the toxic effects of the more than 1 billion gallons of coal ash that flooded the Clinch and Emory Rivers are now affecting new neighbors.

In Alabama, residents of the state’s poorest county have issued a civil rights complaint against the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, alleging that the agency is discriminating against the largely African-American community by allowing a nearby landfill to accept over half of the coal ash from the TVA disaster.

As The Institute for Southern Studies reported,

The operation of the Arrowhead Landfill in rural Perry County, Ala. “has the effect of adversely and disparately impacting African-American residents in the community,” states the complaint, filed this week with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Civil Rights by Florida attorney David A. Ludder on behalf of 48 complainants, almost all of them living near the landfill.

The complaint charges ADEM with violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prevents discrimination by government agencies that receive federal funds. ADEM receives millions of dollars in financial assistance from the EPA each year.

Moving TVA coal ash to the Arrowhead Landfill in Alabama has been controversial since the deal’s approval in 2009. According to a blog about state corruption, investors and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management said the cash-strapped county would gain $3 million by storing the coal ash, and ADEM stands to make just as much. A citizens’ group called Impact Perry County filed a complaint alleging that the Perry County Commission violated the state’s open meetings and open records laws. Further, the company behind the landfill, Perry Uniontown Ventures, was accused of a “take the money and run” scheme after it filed bankruptcy in Jan. 2010 to avoid environmental lawsuits, the Perry County Herald reported.

In a blog post, the Perry County Herald wrote:

The investors who are taking the bulk of the $95 million generated by the coal ash contract will never have to set foot in our county again once the landfill outlives its usefulness. They’ll never drink our water, or breathe our air, or eat bream from our creeks. They can call the shots from offices with glitzy addresses, never get a speck of ash on their hands, and endorse fat checks until those pristine fingers need a latte break. Can you?

In Perry County, over 68% of the population is African-American and over 35% live below the poverty line. The population in the census blocks surrounding the landfill ranges from 87 to 100 percent African-American. As The Institute for Southern Studies reported,

The landfill sits only 100 feet from the front porches of some residents, who say they have experienced frequent foul odors, upset appetite, respiratory problems, headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. They also complain that fugitive dust from the facility has contaminated their homes, porches, vehicles, laundry and plantings.

Coal ash is a dangerous by-product of burning coal for electricity that contains heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury, manganese, and selenium that are known toxins. People living near an unlined coal ash pond are at a 1-in-50 risk of cancer from arsenic, a rate that is 2,000 times greater than the acceptable level of risk.

Currently, the federal government has no authority to regulate coal ash, which is the nation’s second-largest waste stream after municipal garbage. Read more about proposed protections from coal ash here.

While the EPA and federal government continue political wrangling and delays over regulation of coal ash disposal, the citizens of Perry County are calling out their state’s environmental agency, arguing that, by using Arrowhead Landfill as a dumping ground for toxic waste, the state is engaging in discrimination against the landfill’s neighbors.