The Appalachian Advocate - Appalachian Voices' Newsletter



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The August /September issue of The Appalachian Voice is now online, featuring a comprehensive look at water issues in Appalachia and other investigative stories.
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Support Our Business League Members
Hike into fall with great supplies from Mast General Store! Check Mast General Storeout their website for featured merchandise specials as well as projects the company is supporting, or visit one of their eight historic locations.

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Upcoming Events!

Music on the Mountaintop
August 29 -- Boone, NC
Visit our booth during the festival!

Daniel Boone Days
Sept. 4-5 -- Boone, NC

Bristol Rhythm
and Roots Reunion

Sept. 18-20 -- Bristol, TN

Visit our Fun Across Appalachia page
for more info!

August 25, 2009

Dear Members,

An August 19, 2009 article in the New York Times reported that when government scientists tested fish in almost three hundred streams around the nation, they found mercury contamination in every fish they tested, even in isolated rural waterways.

Burning coal to generate electricity is the largest source of mercury pollution, yet electric utilities continue to propose even more coal-fired plants, claiming projected increases in demand. Energy experts advise that aggressive energy efficiency programs could reduce current demand more than 30%.

But coal companies continue destroying Appalachian communities, personal property and the bio-rich peaks through mountaintop removal coal mining; utilities keep buying the coal.

Just last week the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for a mining company to dump 4.5 million tons of contaminated tailings into a lake in Tongass National Forest in Alaska because the material is classified as "fill" rather than waste. It is the same definition that allows Appalachian valleys and streams to disappear.

I suspect you are outraged. I am. The only remedy is to band together to create a voice loud enough to be heard over the political power of coal and utility companies. We need your help.

Warm Regards,
Willa Mays
Executive Director

The Declining Power of Coal

Unlike Appalachian Voices' staff, you probably don't follow the ups and downs of the coal industry. However, you may have noticed the ads by the coal industry front-group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. ACCCE is spending tens of millions of advertising dollars attaching the inappropriate word "clean" to our dirtiest source of energy and also claiming that coal supplies half our electricity. Big Coal wants us to believe that if we don't plan to burn even more coal in the future, Americans will lose jobs and might just freeze in the dark.

Chart showing coal production declineNew numbers coming from the Department of Energy tell a very different story. In May, coal accounted for less than 43% of US electricity production and that number is falling fast - while clean and renewable energy sources are seeing an exponential increase. The transition to a clean energy future is well underway, which may be why ACCCE has gone beyond peddling misinformation to engaging in outright fraud. You can read more about the declining power of coal and the Big Coal's desperate response on Appalachian Voices' Front Porch Blog.

Virginia Air Cleaning Up It's Mact

Appalachian Voices and the Wise Energy for Virginia coalition scored a momentous victory on August 11, 2009, when a Virginia circuit court judge ruled that a state air pollution permit issued to Dominion Power’s coal-fired power plant currently under construction in Wise County plant violated federal law. The judge ruled that the plant would not meet the federal mercury emission limit required by the Clean Air Act's Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standard. Appalachian Voices, along with the Wise Energy coalition, has raised a host of concerns over the project, securing over 42,500 petition signatures and leading a massive grassroots campaign opposing the plant.

Teaching Kids to Love Mountains, Too

It's back to school time! Pencils, backpacks, and pb&j for kids, dry erasers, textbooks and new subjects for teachers. While we can't help pack lunches each day, we can help teachers bring relevant content into their classrooms. That's why, of which Appalachian Voices is a partner, is pleased to introduce a new Educator's Resource page on the issue of mountaintop removal coal mining. The page provides teachers with a wealth of materials and resources for students of all ages. Now there's a tasty bite of apple-achia for your lunch box!

Mark Your Calendars!

Mark your calendars for our September 22 Volunteer Party in our downtown Boone office! Join us to learn about Appalachian Voices' work, how you can participate in weekly volunteer nights this fall, and eat free pizza! For details or to sign up, email


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Boone, N.C. • Charlottesville, Va. Appalachian Voices Raleigh, N.C. • Knoxville, Tenn.