Appalachian Voices’ Virginia campaign team partnered with Downstream Strategies to help in their research for a report that details how the coal industry is reaping huge benefits from the Commonwealth of Virginia each year. Released in mid-December, “The Impact of Coal on the Virginia State Budget” reveals that Virginia taxpayers have been boosting profits for the coal industry with tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies every year — and costing the state $22 million in 2009 alone. The study also included several recommendations for shifting the state’s funding priorities to diversify the economy of coal-dependant southwest Virginia, projecting that $320 million funneled from the current coal subsidies over the next two decades could instead go to much-needed community economic development projects. To see the full report, visit appvoices.org/press.
Eight young advocates from Appalachia teamed up with Appalachian Voices and iLoveMountains in December to produce a special video about mountaintop removal coal mining. In impassioned pleas, the youngsters spoke of how kids and adults living near mountaintop removal have a lower life expectancy, a higher risk of birth defects and a greater chance of contracting life-threatening illnesses than residents of other areas in the country. Watch this important video and take action to ask President Obama to end mountaintop removal mining NOW. Visit appvoices.org/no-more-excuses.
In a project critical for the health of all Americans, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Appalachian Voices, Southern Environmental Law Center and NC Conservation Network have launched a comprehensive new web-based tool that allows residents to find specific information about coal ash impoundments near their communities. The site includes information on the health threats, safety ratings of individual impoundments and how residents can advocate for strong federal safeguards. Visit: southeastcoalash.org.
In Tennessee and Virginia, Appalachian Voices is supporting legislative efforts to end mountaintop removal and expand renewable energy. The Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act was recently reintroduced by Rep. Gloria Johnson, a member of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. With broad bipartisan support, the bill could lead the Tennessee state legislature and Gov. Bill Haslam to be the first state to ban mountaintop removal. In Virginia, Appalachian Voices supports changing the state’s voluntary Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard to require to wind and solar energy be constructed in Virginia. The state’s 2007 voluntary standard has benefited utilities more than ratepayers by awarding them bonuses without expanding renewables in the commonwealth.