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


Raleigh Legislature Hosts Citizens’ Lobby Day for Renewable Energy

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 | Posted by Jeff Deal | No Comments

There’s just something fitting about North Carolina renewable energy advocates getting up ahead of the sun – and this is exactly what they did on Tuesday June 12th as they rolled out of bed for the 7:00 AM convening of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Society’s Citizen Lobby Day.

Why such an early start? Renewable Energy Development in NC of course! Though the waiting hot coffee didn’t hurt.

Given the many arduous budgetary matters now before NC’s legislature, these NC fans of clean and green energy wanted to make sure that the legislature kept renewable energy development in North Carolina (now the 10th largest state in the Union), squarely on on the front burner. (more…)

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U.S. Renewable Energy Production Surpasses Nuclear in 2011

Thursday, January 19th, 2012 | Posted by Jeff Deal | 1 Comment

For the first time since the late 90s, energy produced by renewable sources (biomass, hydroelectric, wind, geothermal and solar) has surpassed the amount of energy produced by nuclear plants in the U.S., according to the most recent Monthly Energy Review from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Link to the report.

The report shows that 6.944 quadrillion Btu’s (quads) were generated by renewable sources during the first nine months of 2011, 12.5% more than the 6.173 quads generated by nuclear power plants during this time. Of the 6.944 quads produced by renewable sources, 47.85% comes from biomass (wood, organic waste, and biofuels), 36% comes from hydroelectric, 12% from wind, 2.4% from geothermal and 1.25% from solar (photovoltaic). Although as Amitabh Pal comments in an article for The Progressive, “the ‘renewable’ category here is a bit of a catch-all, since it includes sources that are somewhat dubious from a clean energy standpoint, such as biofuels.”

Nonetheless, this marks a hopeful turning point in our country’s quest for a clean energy future. Growth in the renewable energy sector continues unabated, in spite of global recession. Looking at another EIA report, Ken Bossong notes that, “compared to the first three quarters of 2010, solar-generated electricity expanded in 2011 by 46.5%; wind by 27.1%, geothermal by 9.4%, and biomass by 1.3%.” Nuclear generation, by comparison, decreased by 2.8% during the same time period.

The number of operable nuclear facilities in the U.S. increased from 42 in 1973 to a maximum of 112 in 1990. Since 1998, the count has held steady at 104. “Operable” is a liberal term, “in that it does not exclude units retaining full-power licenses during long, non-routine shutdowns that for a time [render] them unable to generate electricity,” opines the EIA. For example, the five Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) nuclear units active in 1985 (Browns Ferry 1,2 and 3; Sequoyah 1 and 2) were shut down under a regulatory forced outage, and restarted in 1991, 1995, 1988, and 1988, respectively. However, during this time each was considered “operable” by the EIA.

While TVA is attempting to reanimate a “zombie” plant , the Bellafonte 1 reactor, and to finalize the Watts Bar 2 reactor, these plants would only replace soon-to-retire nuclear plants, rather than leading to a net expansion of the U.S. nuclear industry (WaPo).

What’s Clean Air Worth to You?

Monday, January 16th, 2012 | Posted by Jeff Deal | No Comments

Why is the EPA Advancing the Mercury
and Air Toxics Standard (MATS)?

How much will the EPA’s MATS be worth
to your state? CLICK HERE to find out.

What happens when 40 year old coal-fired electric power plants don’t have modern pollution control systems to remove mercury and other air toxics from their smoke stack emissions? Its not pretty.

These pollutants end up in our environment – and eventually our bodies and those of our neighbors and loved ones.

To safeguard human health against these pollutants, such as mercury – a powerful toxin which effects the brain and nervous system, the Environmental Protection Agency has developed the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS), which limit these hazardous emissions. To learn more about the EPA’s air toxics standards and how they protect the health of you and your state, visit their website at:

Renewable Energy Growing, but Not Fast Enough

Friday, December 2nd, 2011 | Posted by Jeff Deal | No Comments

Check out this EXCELLENT post at Grist HERE concerning the rapid, but still too slow growth of renewable energy development in the US. The news is worse for we Folks here in the Southeast. From the post:

The state maps showing the concentration of various renewables (too many to show here) also implicitly illuminate the nature of the political problem in the U.S., namely: the South doesn’t have much clean energy. Or rather, they have biomass, but that’s about it. (Good thing for policymakers to keep in mind: if you want the South on board, include biomass.)

The “gist” from Grist seems to be that the We in the Southeast need more electricity generated from solar and wind … and we need it fast!

Renewable Energy Growth by Sector in the US Since 2000

The NC Sustainable Energy Association’s “Making Energy Work” Conference: NC a Leader in the Southeast’s Clean Energy Economy

Thursday, November 17th, 2011 | Posted by Jeff Deal | No Comments

NCSEA’s annual meeting and conference, Making Energy Work, highlighted many green energy victories for North Carolina in 2011:

  • the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors generated $3,100,000,000 in gross revenues for the year
  • North Carolina is home to two of the Nation’s fastest growing Fortune 50 companies – both renewable energy businesses
  • the clean energy sector is responsible for 14,800 “full time equivalent” jobs
  • the clean energy sector grew by 18.4 percent
  • clean energy firms have offices located in 87 of North Carolina’s 100 counties
  • the state boasts 1,500 commercial and government energy efficient buildings – roughly 130 million square feet

Speakers and attendees widely noted that far more benefits from this economic sector exist via improvements to the State’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and state level energy efficiency programs for the homes and businesses of North Carolina’s 9 million plus citizenry.

For more information, read NCSEA’s 2011 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Industries Census HERE.

High Point Duke Energy Rate Hike Hearing Turns Out Large Crowd in Opposition to Increase

Friday, October 28th, 2011 | Posted by Jeff Deal | No Comments

If Duke Energy was listening to the citizens gathered at High Point’s City Hall last night, they sure got a burning earful! Over one hundred private citizens turned out to express their extreme displeasure with Duke Energy’s attempt to return a profit to their investors at the expense of North Carolina rate payers in the midst of a serious economic downturn.

“I’d rather be robbed at gunpoint than ball point” one Duke Energy customer stated. The same individual went on to express his grave dissatisfaction with Duke’s self-interested initiative to raise electricity rates, even as many residents were trying “to make a dollar out of fifty cents” and choosing between “eating or heating”.

While individuals were noticeably upset by the proposed rate hike, their comments were thoughtful and many well researched – one speaker even going so far as to review his Duke Energy bills and statements for the last several years to demonstrate a trend in rising charges by the utility giant and another providing a cogent economic analysis of the many free-market failures and contradictions of NC’s electricity market and Duke Energy’s business model.

At least 10 activists from the Occupy Greensboro movement attended the event, holding the proposed rate increase up as another example of affluent corporate overreach and greed paid for at the expense of most Americans.

At least 3 television news crews, 1 NPR reporter and three Piedmont newspapers were on hand for the event.

Read more about the event at the web sites below:

NPR’s Planet Money Talks About the True Cost of Coal

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011 | Posted by Jeff Deal | No Comments

Just how much do we pay for environmental pollution? How much are polluters taxing the health of our communities, families and friends? Find out by listening to Planet Money’s podcast on the true full cost of coal and other forms of environmental pollution HERE.

The Economic Cost of Environmental Pollution

Blair Mountain Community Center and Museum Opens

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 | Posted by Jeff Deal | No Comments

A note from Chuck Keeney, Secretary of the Friends of Blair Mountain:

Since the “March on Blair Mountain: Appalachia is Rising” event, some coal industry executives have claimed that if our preservation efforts succeed and Blair Mountain is spared from mountaintop removal, the “fabric of the community” will be destroyed. We at Friends of Blair Mountain disagree and are putting our words into action.

On September 4, we held the grand opening of the Blair Mountain Community Center and Museum. Located two miles north of the historic battlefield, the facility will serve as a catalyst for community revitalization, education and historic preservation. In addition to museum exhibits, we plan to offer a coal heritage archive for research, a library of relevant books, music collection and films. There will be space for musical performances, activist gatherings, workshops, history tours and some good ole’ Appalachian gatherings of fellowship and fun.

The Blair Mountain Community Center and Museum is a place to display the pride of Appalachian culture and the depth of coalfield heritage while building a healthier, cleaner and more economically diverse Appalachia.

For more information or to learn about how you can help our grassroots efforts, go to or call our Community Center and Museum staff at (304) 369-9800

You can also read the press release here.

Spread the News! Appalachians overwhelmingly oppose mountaintop removal

Thursday, August 18th, 2011 | Posted by Jeff Deal | No Comments

The following email was sent to the 100,000+ supporters of To sign up to receive free email alerts, click here.

Great news! This week we received the results of a public opinion poll that confirms that voters in Appalachia overwhelmingly want to end mountaintop removal and strengthen protections provided by the Clean Water Act.

A new poll commissioned by Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Earthjustice and the Sierra Club shows staggering support for ending mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachian coal mining states. Conducted by two bipartisan firms, the poll has revealed that 57% of informed voters oppose the practice, versus 20% approving.

And even more astoundingly, when asked about increasing Clean Water protections on mountaintop removal, 78% of respondents supported increasing Clean Water Act protections, with just 9% opposing.

This announcement comes on the heels of a national poll released by CNN last week, showing that Americans across the country oppose mountaintop removal 57% to 36%.

People like you have made it clear for a long time that the majority of citizens in the U.S. oppose mountaintop removal. This poll puts to rest out-of-date perceptions that Appalachians support mountaintop removal.

These two polls give us great leverage to demand that our elected officials follow their moral compass, follow the science, and follow regional and national public opinion by ending mountaintop removal. Please take a moment to write your congressperson about this poll to make sure that they see these figures.

For the Mountains,
Matt Wasson

Guest Blogger: Chuck Keeney – What’s next for Blair Mountain

Friday, July 29th, 2011 | Posted by Jeff Deal | 2 Comments

Cross posted from

C. Belmont Keeney, or Chuck as most people know him, has a Ph.D. in Appalachian and American History from West Virginia University. His great grandfather, Frank Keeney, was president of the United Mine Workers of America and helped organized the Miners March in 1921. Chuck was one of the principle organizers of the June 2011 March on Blair Mountain.

Since Chuck is an active board member of Friends of Blair Mountain, we asked him to summarize last month’s march and tell us what’s next for Blair Mountain:

Two weeks after the June 2011 March on Blair Mountain, I accompanied Brandon Nida, a doctoral candidate in archeology at U.C. Berkeley and a good friend, on a day long trip back to the community of Blair. It was a Sunday, overcast and rainy, unlike the sunny mid-ninety degree temperatures under which we marched a couple of weeks before. Everyone who marched remembers the heat. But on this day, Brandon and I drove a nice, air conditioned car down 119 South to Six Mile Road and then winded down the curvy Route 17 through the mountains and into Logan County. To be honest, it is difficult to describe what I felt as we drove by so many familiar sights along portions of the March route. We passed by a lovely country home where, during the March, an old lady invited us to stop and eat lunch. As it turned out, this lady was the granddaughter of a woman who fed the miners during the 1921 March and we found ourselves resting under the shade of the very trees where rebellious miners had been ninety years before. We passed by homes where people applauded us and homes where people reviled us. I have lived my entire life in West Virginia, spent years studying the history of Appalachia, and yet I think I only truly saw my home for the first time from June 6-11, 2011 when hundreds of activists and concerned citizens marched the fifty miles from Marmet to Blair Mountain, West Virginia.

The story of the March itself is different for everyone who participated in it. Much has already been written about it as the people begin to tell their stories. No doubt, much more will be written, and I look forward to seeing what tales emerge from this memorable event. For myself, suffice it for the moment to say, I met many incredible people, formed friendships, and renewed some old ones, which have changed my life in ways I never would have anticipated before. I have met union miners, proud mountaineers, environmentalists, lawyers, scholars, and even people who believed so greatly in the justice of our cause that they crossed oceans in order to make their voices heard. To say that the march has been inspiring is an understatement. But in spite of the profound experience of the march and the attention that we have received around the nation and even the world, Blair Mountain is still in danger and we still have to save it. So as I drove from Charleston to Blair with Brandon and revisited so many places burned into my memory, one overarching question emerged:

What do we do now?


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Boulder crashes through home in Perry County

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 | Posted by Jeff Deal | No Comments

Cross posted from WYMT News:

Federal and state officials are investigating after a boulder came crashing through a Perry County home on July 26.

This was not the first time this quiet community was shaken up.

“It’s shaken in here a many a time, yeah,” said Shirley Campbell, sales clerk at Campbell’s Station in Dice, Kentucky.
“They’ve been letting shots off, but they’ve never been that bad.”

A home on bailey way in dice was damaged when a boulder fell through the bedroom ceiling.

“It was probably about as big as a basketball,” said Orby Dean Campbell, describing the rock that came in through the roof and exited through the bedroom wall. Campbell owns the trailer which was damaged at around 11 a.m.

Campbell said his daughter and her husband were inside the home with their children, 6-year-old and 2-year-old boys, at the time of the accident.

“It could have killed every one of them if they’d been in there,” said Campbell.

Workers in the area said they heard what happened from about a half-mile away. Shirley Campbell was working at Campbell’s Station when she heard that her niece’s residence had been affected.

“I seen all of that smoke and it was all at once, just come right up,” said Shirley Campbell.

Orby Campbell said that the boulder came down from the mountain above the home. He said he believes blasting at a nearby mine is to blame.

“I want them to know to lighten on those shots back there if they are gonna work back there – lighting those shots can kill people,” said Campbell.

He said he was thankful nothing worse had happened. No one was injured in the incident.

The Division Of Mine Reclamation Enforcement, DMRE, surface mine inspectors and the explosives and blasting branch are investigating along with MSHA and the OSM, Office of Surface Mining to determine the cause. Officials from DMRE said it will be a thorough investigation and will likely take several days.

State mining officials are not able to determine if the boulder came from the nearby mining company.

Breaking: New Study Links Mountaintop Removal to 60,000 Additional Cancer Cases

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 | Posted by Jeff Deal | No Comments

by Jeff Biggers, cross posted from
Among the 1.2 million American citizens living in mountaintop removal mining counties in central Appalachia, an additional 60,000 cases of cancer are directly linked to the federally sanctioned strip-mining practice.

That is the damning conclusion in a breakthrough study, released last night in the peer-reviewed Journal of Community Health: The Publication for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Led by West Virginia University researcher Dr. Michael Hendryx, among others, the study entitled “Self-Reported Cancer Rates in Two Rural Areas of West Virginia with and Without Mountaintop Coal Mining” drew from a groundbreaking community-based participatory research survey conducted in Boone County, West Virginia in the spring of 2011, which gathered person-level health data from communities directly impacted by mountaintop mining, and compared to communities without mining.

“A door to door survey of 769 adults found that the cancer rate was twice as high in a community exposed to mountaintop removal mining compared to a non-mining control community,” said Hendryx, Associate Professor at the Department of Community Medicine and Director of West Virginia Rural Health Research Center at West Virginia University. “This significantly higher risk was found after control for age, sex, smoking, occupational exposure and family cancer history. The study adds to the growing evidence that mountaintop mining environments are harmful to human health.”

Bottom line: Far from simply being an environmental issue, mountaintop removal is killing American residents.

Read the entire article on



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