Citizens Deliver Coal Ash Petition to Duke Energy

Friday, February 28th, 2014 | Posted by Sarah Kellogg | 2 Comments

12797909964_793e620d6f_b (1)Tuesday afternoon, more than 150 concerned citizens gathered at Duke Energy’s headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., to demand that the company take action to clean up its toxic coal ash. The event was the result of an amazing collaboration between a variety of environmental and social justice groups from the states affected by the Dan River spill -- North Carolina and Virginia -- as well as national interest groups. [ More ]

Bringing New Power to the Old Dominion in 2014

Friday, February 14th, 2014 | Posted by Hannah Wiegard | No Comments

EENPODAround Virginia, folks share a belief in making electricity safer, more reliable, and more price-stable. Most people we talk with are already aware of our utilities’ current reliance on coal, but they’re often dismayed to learn that Dominion Virginia Power would keep solar and wind development at a marginal scale in Virginia for another 15 years. [ More ]

Common Sense, Nonsense, and a Climate Fight in the Making in Richmond

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 | Posted by Hannah Wiegard | No Comments

photo 4 The 2014 session of the Virginia General Assembly is underway, and state lawmakers are wasting no time. Legislation this session falls into two categories: the bright ideas that bring Virginia closer to a future of safe and reliable clean energy, and the downright crazy bills that do the opposite and must be stopped. Here is the breakdown. [ More ]

Hannah Wiegard: Binge-watching “Doctor Who” and Bettering Virginia’s Energy Options

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 | Posted by Hannah Wiegard | 6 Comments

944745_10100206520223687_1797773733_n I joined Appalachian Voices to help steer Appalachian Power and Dominion Virginia Power toward clean energy. Over the recent winter break, I got a jump on this massive undertaking in what may seem an unusual way: by becoming utterly engrossed in a "Doctor Who" marathon. I maintain that it was time well-spent in the fight for clean energy sources and efficiency for the Old Dominion. [ More ]

The Gap Between Environmental Protection and DENR’s Skewed Self-perception

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014 | Posted by Brian Sewell | No Comments

Vacant responses to public criticism do nothing to lessen the disappointment of a vocal public demanding a safe environment With the management of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources' penchant for self-praise, the future must seem pretty bright. But beyond the narrative contrived in media releases, public criticism and displays of distrust in the agency’s direction have become commonplace in North Carolina’s largest newspapers and media outlets. And it’s making North Carolina’s environmental community stronger. [ More ]

Appalachian Voices and Partners Challenge Kentucky’s Weakening of Water Pollution Standards for Selenium

Friday, December 13th, 2013 | Posted by Eric Chance | No Comments

This two headed trout was deformed by selenium pollution. Today, we have taken action to keep EPA and Kentucky from allowing pollution like this to get worse.

Earlier today Appalachian Voices and a number of partner organizations sued the EPA over their approval of Kentucky’s new, weaker standard for selenium pollution.

Selenium is extremely toxic to fish, and causes deformities and reproductive failure at extremely low levels. The pollutant is commonly discharged from coal mines and coal ash ponds, but currently Kentucky does not regulate its discharge from these facilities.

These new standards were proposed at the behest of coal industry groups, likely motivated by citizen groups’ success at requiring companies in other states to clean up their selenium pollution. We have also seen the state governments of Virginia and West Virginia take steps towards making similar rollbacks to their own standards, making the EPA’s approval of Kentucky’s weakened standards even more alarming.

More ...

On Heels of USDA Energy Efficiency Loan Program, Appalachian Voices Launches the Energy Savings Action Center

Thursday, December 12th, 2013 | Posted by Rory McIlmoil | No Comments

The Energy Savings Action Center is an easy-to-use tool designed to help save money and energy by promoting energy efficiency loan programs through your electric utility.

The Energy Savings Action Center is an easy-to-use tool designed to help save money and energy by promoting energy efficiency loan programs through your electric utility.

On Dec. 4, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program (EECLP), a new loan program that will provide at least $250 million to rural electric cooperatives each year to develop or expand energy efficiency loan programs for residential and business customers.

To encourage rural electric cooperatives across Appalachia take advantage of the new program, and help the region’s residents save money on their energy bills, Appalachian Voices created the Energy Savings Action Center.

Stephen Johnson of the online publication Electric Co-op Today stressed the importance of the EECLP, stating that “Although energy efficiency measures can reduce home energy use considerably, many consumers and businesses do not invest in them because they lack the capital or financing to do so.”

More ...

EPA Helps Kentucky Roll Back Water Quality Protections

Friday, November 15th, 2013 | Posted by Erin Savage | 1 Comment

Above are blue gills that were collected below the site of TVA’s 2008 Kingston Coal Ash spill. They all have “pop-eye”, a deformity caused by selenium pollution where their eyes bulge out of their heads. These fish had selenium levels of 2.5-6.5ppm, well below Kentucky’s newly accepted standard of 8.6 ppm for fish tissue.

Just today, after several months of delays, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its decisions on the Kentucky Department of Water’s (DOW) amendments to the Kentucky Water Quality Regulations. Unfortunately, the EPA has approved substantive changes to the selenium freshwater chronic standard that will not adequately protect aquatic life and will be difficult, if not impossible to enforce at mountaintop removal coal mining sites throughout eastern Kentucky.

In theory, states review their water quality standards every three years in an effort to make sure these standards are up-to-date with current science and are protective of aquatic life. In some cases, however, the review becomes an opportunity for special interests to influence state agencies. This year, under pressure from the coal industry, the Kentucky DOW proposed to weaken selenium standards. Standards are used to set permit limits for industries that may discharge pollutants into public waterways. Though some mines in Kentucky are known to discharge selenium into streams, the Kentucky general permit for valley fills does not currently include selenium permit limits.

Selenium is a naturally occurring element that can be released into streams through mountaintop removal coal mining. Once in the water, selenium bioaccumulates in fish and other aquatic life, increasing in concentration up the food chain. Selenium is toxic to aquatic life at very low levels. For these reasons, Appalachian Voices and our allies have been working to challenge Kentucky’s proposed selenium standards.

Kentucky DOW proposed to raise the acute selenium standard from 20 ug/L in the water column to 258 ug/L in the water column. They also proposed changing the chronic standard of 5 ug/L to a more complicated system where a level of 5 ug/L in the water column would not be enforceable, but instead would trigger the need to sample fish tissue. The new chronic standard would be 8.6 ug/g in fish tissue, or 19.2 ug/g in egg/ovary tissue. The 5 ug/L water concentration would only be an enforceable limit if no fish were available for sampling.

More ...

Winston-Salem Journal Series Highlights Belews Creek Coal Plant Pollution Concerns

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013 | Posted by Kara Dodson | No Comments

Through public meetings and community outreach, Appalachian Voices is working to help citizens living near coal plants like the Belews Creek Power Station stand up for their right to clean water.

Through public meetings and community outreach, Appalachian Voices is working to help citizens living near coal plants like the Belews Creek Power Station stand up for their right to clean water.

Over the past three weeks, the Winston-Salem Journal published a series of excellent articles focusing on the significant environmental and health threat of toxic coal ash in North Carolina — specifically from Duke Energy’s coal plants.

Appalachian Voices’ Red, White, & Water team has been working this year in communities surrounding the Belews Creek coal plant near Walnut Cove, N.C., and we’ve found a mountain of stories and data pointing to Duke Energy’s poor pollution record.

The articles, researched and written by Bertrand M. Gutierrez, paint a clear picture of the air and water contamination spreading out from the Belews Creek coal ash pond. The three-part series includes:

More ...

Appalachian Coal Losing Another Customer: Eastern Kentucky as a Case Study

Thursday, October 24th, 2013 | Posted by Brian Sewell | No Comments

TVA's Paradise coal plant in Muhlenberg County, Ky., relies entirely on coal from the Illinois Basin, which includes mines in western Kentucky.

TVA’s Paradise coal plant in Muhlenberg County, Ky., relies entirely on coal from the Illinois Basin, which includes mines in western Kentucky. Recently, utilities in the Southeast have looked beyond Central Appalachia, even to reserves within a day’s drive, to purchase cheaper coal.

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Paradise Fossil Plant sits on the banks of western Kentucky’s Green River. The largest coal plant in the state, Paradise consumes approximately 7.3 million tons per year — none of which comes from Central Appalachian coal mines.

Although TVA recently announced it was cutting almost all of its use of Central Appalachian coal, a spokesperson for the utility pointed out that Paradise will still receive coal mined in Kentucky. But that portion of TVA’s coal purchases will be from mines in Kentucky’s western coalfields, just a few hundred miles from most of the state’s Appalachian coal-producing counties. Even just a day’s drive apart, the two reserves have dramatically different outlooks.

According to the most recent Kentucky Quarterly Coal Report, between April and June of this year, western and Eastern Kentucky coal mines each produced around 10 million tons of coal. But on a longer timeline, production and employment in Kentucky’s western counties have steadily increased while the state’s Central Appalachian mines have suffered.

More ...

In Defense of the Earth: An Appalachian Poet’s Presence

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 | Posted by Brian Sewell | 3 Comments

Stream “Wendell Berry, Poet & Prophet” below or watch it on Moyers & Company by clicking here.

Widely celebrated as a caretaker of the culture and myth of rural America, Wendell Berry has a distinct drawl and speaks like he writes, eloquently but with simple words and equal parts conviction and compassion. Beyond being a renowned poet and author, Berry is an abiding presence in the environmental movement — especially among those of us who live in or love Appalachia.

A new presentation by Moyers & Company, “Wendell Berry, Poet & Prophet,” provides a portrait of the literary icon’s growth and influence, his relationship with the land and his hopes for humanity.

Among the topics covered — industrialization, wealth inequality, the indifference of elected leaders to environmental degradation — is Berry’s anti-mountaintop removal activism, and his participation in a four-day sit-in at the Kentucky governor’s office to protest mountaintop removal.

More ...

Mountaintop Removal in a Nutshell: Tremendous Environmental Capital Spent for Modest Energy Gains

Thursday, September 12th, 2013 | Posted by Brian Sewell | No Comments

To meet current U.S. coal demand through surface mining, an area the size of Washington, D.C. — about 68 square miles — would need to be mined every 81 days, according to a new study.

To meet current U.S. coal demand through surface mining, an area the size of Washington, D.C. — about 68 square miles — would need to be mined every 81 days, according to a new study.

We talk a lot about the external costs of mountaintop removal. And by understanding the true costs that coal puts off on the landscapes, water and communities of Central Appalachia, it’s abundantly clear that the costs far outweigh the benefits to all but a few.

But still we hear arguments about the need for a balance between the environment and the economy.

As elected leaders and industry representatives delude themselves and others, yet another study has concluded that mountaintop removal is simply not worth it. Here’s the simple takeaway from the conclusion of “The Environmental Price Tag on a Ton of Mountaintop Removal Coal”: Tremendous environmental capital is being spent to achieve what are only modest energy gains.

More ...

<== Older Posts    
The Front Porch Blog