Front Porch Blog

Updates from Appalachia


West Virginia’s Water Crisis: As Predictable As It Was Preventable

On Thursday, Jan. 9, more than 7,500 gallons of a highly toxic chemical used to process coal spilled into the Elk River — just upstream of a drinking water intake serving more than 300,000 people in West Virginia. While the spill was making national headlines as a one-time event, our thoughts turned to the much bigger problems with water pollution and politics in Appalachia that don’t get enough attention from the media — and how these chronic problems actually set the stage for this disaster.

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Who Owns West Virginia’s Water? A Cautionary Tale

The paper trail of West Virginia Public Service Commission filings document the dramatic expansion of American Water Company’s network over the past two decades, and why so many people in this water-rich state depend on a single, privately-owned treatment system and distribution network that sprawls across nine counties for their supply of drinking water.

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Will West Virginia Politicians Hit “Snooze” on Another Wake-Up Call?

West Virginia’s state and federal leadership fight tooth-and-nail against new rules and the enforcement of existing laws that protect our air, water and health because the earnings of companies bankrolling their political careers might be affected. Now, facing another crisis, we’re rightfully wondering: How many wake-up calls do West Virginia’s elected leaders get?

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Former Coal Regulator Shows How Little He Knows About Coal Regulation

More than 2,000 miles of Appalachian streams have been buried or poisoned by the valley fills associated with mountaintop removal mining. Yet, despite touting his credentials as a former coal regulator, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) believes that current stream protections are sufficient and dumping mining waste into streams is illegal.

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McAuliffe Lauds Carbon Capture Technology, But Coal’s Impacts Go Beyond CO2 Pollution

Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe claims that “we need to build on the assets we have” by using carbon capture technology. But carbon pollution isn’t the only measure of coal’s impact on Virginia. Continuing to mine and burn coal will still cause serious problems: more destructive mountaintop removal, toxic mining waste, air and water pollution from power plants, all while southwestern Virginia continues to feel the worst effects of deferring a cleaner energy future.

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