The Front Porch Blog, with Updates from AppalachiaThe Front Porch Blog, with Updates from Appalachia


Community Organizing & Water Testing Training

Thursday, July 19th, 2012 | Posted by Pallavi Podapati | 1 Comment

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth is hosting an Organizing and Water Testing Training in Whitesburg, KY. This will be a hands-on training about ways to use the tools of community organizing and citizen water testing to protect our water and health. Conductivity meters will be available at the training for use. No prior experience is necessary. We encourage volunteers to invite friends to the training and for later testing to build community ownership.

When: Saturday July 28th, from 10:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Where: Ermine Senior Citizen’s Center, 156 Main St. Whitesburg, KY
If you plan to attend: Please contact Lisa Abbott at (859) 986-1277 or; we want to be sure we have enough equipment for everyone.
Lunch: We will provide soup beans, cornbread, drinks, and snacks, but please feel free to bring another dish to share with everyone.

We will start off the morning by reviewing some principles of organizing and how this can be incorporated with water testing. In this first training we will be learning how to use basic conductivity meters and we will get an understanding of what conductivity is and why is it important. We will also be thinking through and developing skills to involve local communities in water testing, and understanding the implications and uses of the results.

Participants will also learn how to post their test results in an on-line public database, Appalachian Water Watch. This database provides an interactive map of test results, as well as other useful resources for citizens.

Appalachian Voices has been working with KFTC, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS), and the Sierra Club since the spring of 2011 to collect stream and river water quality data throughout Eastern Kentucky and Southwestern Virginia. These data provide an overview of baseline water quality, as well as indications of where industries may be polluting public water.

If you are interested in learning more about this program, please email or

Official EPA Comments on 36 Ky Permits

Thursday, June 28th, 2012 | Posted by Pallavi Podapati | No Comments

Appalachian Voices submitted official comments following the EPA’s public hearing on June 2nd and 4th. Our comments affirm the EPA’s objections to 36 water pollutant discharge permits for surface mines in Kentucky. The 36 draft permits were issued by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

Under the Clean Water Act, the EPA must ensure state compliance with clean water laws to protect public health and the environment. Our official comments explain why we agree with the EPA’s decision, and address misinformation and additional problems with the permits.

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Speaking Out At EPA Hearings in Kentucky

Thursday, June 14th, 2012 | Posted by Pallavi Podapati | 2 Comments

Upon our arrival, we definitely stood out. I wondered if we exuded “tree hugger,” but it’s more likely that the “I Love Mountains” buttons gave us away. While no one approached us directly to ask what we were doing there or to start an argument, the rally cries and fire-and-brimstone speeches in the background gave me pause. On the other hand, my fellow AppVoicers seemed comfortable, even delighted, to approach people participating in the coal rally and engage in dialogue.

The June 4th U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hearings were held at the Eastern Kentucky Expo in Pikeville, a massive stadium that seats 7,000. Individuals gathered to voice their opinions on the EPA’s denial of 36 mine permits because of water quality issues. Following the hearing, the EPA will be receiving comments until June 21st.

While things seemed relatively calm during the rally outside, within the Expo things turned nasty. None of the jeering was too off-putting, but the feeling of tension and the combative tone pro-coal individuals took with EPA officials and environmentalists made everyone in our small group uneasy.

Four members of Appalachian Voices spoke at the hearing, Eric Chance, Erin Savage, Matt Wasson, and myself. We talked about Kentucky’s troubled history of failing to enforce clean water protections, and agreed with the EPA that the permits in question lacked appropriate scientific data and safeguards to protect watersheds. We also commented on the devastating health impacts from water pollution caused by mountaintop removal coal mining, and countered coal industry propaganda with data about the recent rise in the region’s coal employment. A member of the Sierra Club, Alex DeShay, also spoke, and we all received very vocal disapproval from the crowd. I wondered if we were in a precarious situation by being the only people who were openly supportive of the EPA’s initiatives.

This is not the Eastern Kentucky I know. (more…)

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