Front Porch Blog

Focus on Appalachia’s future

Each month, Appalachian Voices Executive Director Tom Cormons reflects on issues of importance to our supporters and to the region.

Flag Rock Trail in Southwest Virginia. Photo by Alistair Burke

View of Wise County from Flag Rock Trail in Southwest Virginia. Photo by Alistair Burke

The winds of change are blowing in Central Appalachia, carrying voices of people determined to see their communities thrive in a future where the coal industry no longer dominates. Just since July, 24 local governments have passed resolutions supporting major federal investment to invigorate the region’s economy in new ways.

Most of the resolutions support a White House proposal called “POWER+,” a multi-billion dollar plan to foster economic opportunities in coal-impacted communities.The plan’s fate in Congress, however, will largely depend on citizen engagement, and Appalachian Voices is helping to ensure that local voices for change are heard loud and clear in Washington, D.C.

Early this year, we opened our new office in Norton, Va., at the heart of the coal-bearing region, determined to advance sustainable economic solutions through citizen engagement and outreach to all levels of government officials. We co-hosted several community forums in Southwest Virginia this fall, and people from all walks of life came to share their visions for a new economy. Their leadership will be essential as their communities advocate for economic diversification.

Progress on this front is one way we’ve continued our quest for a sustainable future that honors our region’s unsurpassed natural heritage. As 2015 draws to a close, we’re celebrating highlights of the past year’s work.

  • We helped thousands of citizens weigh in on the Obama administration’s proposed Stream Protection Rule and are in close communication with agency officials to push for a strong final rule.
  • We partnered with Google and SkyTruth to launch the interactive “Communities at Risk from Mountaintop Removal” tool, which uses satellite imagery to show that mining continues to encroach on communities.
  • In North Carolina, we deepened our partnership with people living near coal ash ponds and proposed fracking sites and helped citizens form a statewide coalition to compel Duke Energy and the state to clean up coal ash.
  • Our work and citizen voices have elevated clean energy as a priority for the McAuliffe administration in Virginia to create jobs and reduce carbon pollution.
  • Our Energy Savings for Appalachia program has moved electric cooperatives in North Carolina and Tennessee to commit to up-front financing for energy efficiency improvements on customers’ homes.

We are grateful for the members and activists who help us make change and our supporters who make this work possible.

Here’s to our ongoing partnership!

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.

  1. Such great news, so hopeful. Thank you!
    Jane from Glasgow VA

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