Excerpt from a Letter

MEMO TO: President-elect Obama
FROM: The Appalachian Alliance

Dear President-elect Obama,

… We are dealing with the devastating effects of the cycle of coal, from extraction, cleaning, transport, burning and the disposal of coal combustion waste. Coal industry abuse has cost many of us our homes, our health, our loved ones, and sometimes our entire community, often because of the systemic lack of enforcement of federal regulatory agencies.

Therefore, it is absolutely essential that the posts of Secretary of the Interior, Director of the Office of Surface Mining, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, and Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, be filled by people who fully and fairly enforce laws relating to underground and surface mining, mine safety and health, coal burning and coal combustion waste.

Many Americans … would be shocked to learn of the flagrant disregard for the law shown by coal companies and the lack of enforcement by the agencies charged with protecting our communities from these abuses. We need appointees to these positions who understand their roles and are committed to enforcing the laws. Perhaps most important, full and fair enforcement of mining laws will only be possible with an authentic, public mandate from your administration. …

The communities in which coal is mined, burned, and disposed have made enormous sacrifices to give America power and yet we remain among the poorest communities in the United States. Many miners and other coal workers have lost their lives as a result of poor safety enforcement. We have a vision of long term economic and environmental prosperity for our communities, but we can’t achieve this without support from our government.

You have given America new hope for an administration that carefully considers the effects of its actions on ordinary citizens. Coal mining laws directly impact coalfield residents every day. When the laws are enforced, people and their land have hope that they will be protected. When laws are violated, disasters can and do occur.

You have the power to protect the land and people through your appointments… We urge you to consider your decisions carefully.

The Appalachian Alliance is composed of environmental and cultural organizations collaborating on the I Love Mountains web site and advocating positive change for the region. Appalachian Voices is proud to be among them.


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