Front Porch Blog

Saying “No!” to Toxins in Our Water


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made a troubling decision that bodes ill for Kentuckians — and maybe for other citizens in Appalachia as well. The agency is letting Kentucky change how it measures toxic selenium pollution from mountaintop removal coal mines, using data from fish tissue rather than straightforward water quality samples from streams.

The new method is so complicated and fraught with pitfalls as to be virtually unenforceable. And it effectively shuts out concerned citizens from exercising their right under federal law to take legal action to defend their community’s watershed. The EPA’s action could also open the door to weakening of the standard in other states like Virginia and West Virginia.

Appalachian Voices works with citizens throughout the region to expose water pollution from mountaintop removal mining, and we’ve been advocating for strong state standards to control this dangerous pollutant. We are pushing back on the EPA’s decision on Kentucky, and we’re ready to hit the ground to fight for responsible, enforceable standards in other states.

And now we have fortifications for that work! It is my pleasure to introduce three new staff members to the Appalachian Voices team: Amy Adams, Ann League and Kara Dodson. Each brings her own unique spirit, professionalism, talent and strong sense of justice to our mission.

Amy, who left the beleaguered N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources this fall to join our staff, brings a wealth of experience and perspective to head our North Carolina campaign. Ann, whose home in Tennessee was threatened by the massive Zeb Mountain coal mine, has been deeply engaged in the campaign to end mountaintop removal and will head up our work in that state. And Kara, a dedicated and passionate community organizer, has hit the ground running as our first-ever Field Coordinator. [ Read more about these three fantastic additions ]

The influx of their combined energy and enthusiasm has already brought a tremendous boost to the organization, with much more to come!





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  1. Franklin J. Kapustka, PE on November 29, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    I have a degree in civil engineering. In the course environmental chemistry, we used water quality samples as does every accredited civil and environmental engineering program. No licensed environmental or civil engineer can legally follow this directive. It is absolute quackery.

  2. donna selquist on November 29, 2013 at 1:54 am

    Pollution standards definitely need to remain at the very highest level of restriction! There is just no earthly reason why any commercial concern should be allowed to dump ever more contaminants into our environment. Please reverse your recent permissive ruling re: toxic selenium from coal mines.

    Thank you.

  3. Rick Phelps on November 28, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Not only has EPA/KY failed to recognize the imperative/importance of in-situ Se measurement but the indirect measure of inorganic pollution, conductivity, has also been removed from the field testing methodology, I think.

    Testing levels in the fish is sort of like shutting the barn door after the cows are out ! Both tests are needed but, as stated, the latter is complex and a lab-only method.

    I certainly share the enthusiasm the additions of Ann, Amy and Kara has created ! Welcome to all and I look forward to a renewed TN focus…

  4. Mr Stephen and Robin Newberg on November 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Use the older time tested method

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