Front Porch Blog

Mountain Monday: Alliance for Appalachia Spotlight

OVEC first learned of mountaintop removal in 1997, when directly-impacted residents came to us to tell us about the issue and ask for our help. OVEC organized and hosted the first-ever public forum on mountaintop removal, and has been organizing in the West Virginia coalfields since then. The Coalition works with state, national and international media* to raise awareness about and ultimately hopes to end this extremely damaging form of coal mining. So far, OVEC has held back 90 valley fill permits at proposed mountaintop removal operations through litigation. Besides a host of newspaper and magazine articles, our work has been featured in music, books and films.

OVEC and its sister group, Coal River Mountain Watch, collaborate on the Sludge Safety Project (SSP), which works to protect clean water and promote human health and safety near coal waste storage sites. The recent coal ash disaster in Tennessee underscores how dirty and deadly the rear-end of the coal-use cycle is. SSP’s work examines and exposes the dirty and deadly front-end of that cycle. We encourage everyone reading this blog to learn more about coal slurry impoundments and underground coal slurry injection by exploring the SSP website and, if possible, attending our Jan. 31 SSP Legislative Kick-Off event–details here.

In addition, you can learn more about SSP volunteers work by listening to this West Virginia Public Radio news story.

As it stands right now, with the new permits I saw last week, they’re gonna blast off the mountain I look at when I look off my front porch. And I get to set and watch that happen, and I’m not supposed to react. Don’t react, just set there and take it. They’re gonna blast away my horizon, and I’m expected to say, “It’s OK. It’s for the good of all.”

OVEC’s work also focuses on solutions to the energy crisis. We’re a founding member of CLEAN , a grassroots collaboration of state and local organizations. CLEAN, a project of the Civil Society Institute, seeks policies that will protect our environment, cease and reverse global warming, disentangle the U.S. from unstable regions of the world, and create a new energy economy that promises jobs and a sustainable and equitable economic prosperity.

To address a root cause of all the issues OVEC has worked on, we lead the West Virginia Citizens for Clean Elections with the West Virginia Citizen Action Group . This upcoming legislative season (Feb. 11 to April 11, 2009), we’ll be working at the West Virginia State Capitol to advance on Clean Elections, Sludge Safety Project concerns and on cemetery protection issues. Join OVEC’s Action Alert e-mail list (two to four e-mails a month, usually) to stay current with our work and/or check out daily news updates.

* Newspapers that have quoted our members or staff or used our photos include New York Times, Los Angles Times, Washington Post, Toronto Star and scores more. Radio and TV outlets that have aired news of our work include National Public Radio, Bill Moyers of Public Broadcasting, British Broadcasting Company, Danish, Norwegian, Australian and Canadian Broadcasting, and more. Magazines that have featured are work include Smithsonian, National Geographic, People,
E-magazine, O (Oprah Winfrey’s magazine), and dozens more.

Thanks to Vivian Stockman of OVEC for helping put together this post. Check back next week for more news from the mountains, a new edition of Better Know a CWPA Sponsor & Target, and more!

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