Front Porch Blog

Reflecting on a Year of Accomplishments

It was ten months ago when I wrote my first letter to our supporters as the Executive Director of Appalachian Voices. Looking back on the time that has flown by, I take great comfort in knowing that over this short span we made many impressive advances in reducing coal’s impact on our communities and promoting solutions for a cleaner energy future.

With the end of 2013 only days away, I want to personally let you know how grateful we are for your commitment to our work this year. Thank you.

Here are just a few highlights of all that we did with your help.

  • Continued to drive the nationwide movement to end mountaintop removal, leading to the denial of permits for major mountaintop removal projects including the 1,200-acre Ison Rock Ridge Mine in Virginia and the 2,300-acre Spruce Mine in West Virginia.
  • Launched the Energy Savings for Appalachia program to implement energy efficiency loan programs in communities where they will have the greatest impact.
  • Following our defeat of what would have been the largest coal-fired power plant in Virginia, worked with partners to develop the New Power for the Old Dominion campaign, going to bat for major investments in a clean energy economy.
  • Scored a legal victory with our partners against A&G coal, one of Virginia’s largest mountaintop mining companies, when a federal judge ruled in our favor that the company was illegally discharging selenium, a pollutant highly toxic to aquatic life.
  • Worked with Duke University and local residents to test drinking-water wells of homes near North Carolina coal ash ponds and found arsenic and manganese pollution levels exceeding the state standard.
  • Organized powerful grassroots support from impacted communities for the federal Effluent Limitations Guidelines rule, which would better regulate toxic elements discharged in power plant wastewater.
  • Established the Appalachian Water Watch Alert System for residents to report water pollution.
  • Fought Kentucky’s weakening of the state selenium pollution standard and joined partners in suing the EPA for its approval of the weakened standard.
  • Led a diverse coalition in Tennessee to promote the Scenic Vistas Protection Act, a bill that would ban mountaintop mining in the state.

We have bold plans to tackle the complex challenges that Appalachia and the Southeast face, and, with your continued help, we will celebrate many new achievements in another short twelve months.

I am as excited about our outlook for the coming year as I was about taking the helm of this great organization back in February. More than ever, I am inspired by the positive vision we have for this region we all love. Thank you for taking a stand and helping us realize this vision.

For the mountains,


Appalachian Voices' Executive Director, Tom holds a degree in law from UCLA and has a life-long appreciation for Appalachia's mountains and culture. An avid hiker and whitewater rafter, his latest pleasure is in sharing with his kids a deep respect and appreciation of nature.

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