Front Porch Blog

Building community awareness to solve acid mine drainage: A conversation with DJ Coker

The fight to clean up acid mine drainage is not just happening in Washington, D.C. It’s being led by people in communities in coal mining regions across the country who are sick and tired of lands and waters in their neighborhoods being polluted because of abandoned mine lands left to linger for generations.

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Tell Congress to let states use their infrastructure funding for acid mine drainage treatment!

The final installment of our blog and video series on the AMD crisis focuses on one such local leader: DJ Coker of Duff, Tennessee. DJ connected with local Sierra Club organizer Bonnie Swinford and the Clearfork Water Monitoring project in an effort to detect AMD pollution around his home in Campbell County — and he found it in a nearby pond that used to be part of a coal mining operation. Now, he’s made it his mission to get the site cleaned up and demand accountability from those responsible.

Acid mine drainage clean-up efforts around the country are led by people like DJ — members of community groups that go on to push decision-makers, organize friends and neighbors, and build public and private partnerships with landowners to advance solutions. They are at the heart of the movement to clean up AMD, and they’re asking Congress to hear their call to action.

The good news is that help could be on the way. Places like Tennessee historically have not had much federal abandoned mine land funding to clean up sites like the one DJ discovered. But, the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill last month brings a ray of hope — and $11.3 billion in abandoned mine land funding nationally. Presently, it is unclear if this funding can go toward AMD clean-up. But, if Congress and the Biden administration take steps to ensure that it can, it would mean major progress for the work DJ and so many others like him do around the country.

Check out DJ’s story here and don’t forget to take action in support of the grassroots leaders like him fighting to clean-up their communities:


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