Fighting for Justice in the Coalfields

Firm History

Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center grew out of a vision to create a public interest law office devoted solely to addressing these coal-mining issues and cases. In response to that need, John Rosenberg and Steve Sanders, both then with the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund, established ACLC with funding assistance from the Bingham Trust in Connecticut.  ACLC opened in January 2002 as a non-profit public interest law firm devoted solely to providing free legal services to Appalachian citizens adversely impacted by the coal industry.

Since our founding, ACLC has served the needs of hundreds of coal miners, their families, and residents of the coalfields. We have addressed these issues through litigation, policy advocacy, and direct outreach work with impacted coal miners and community members. In a region fraught with complex tensions around the role of coal mining, ACLC has over a decade of earned trust with our community.

At the forefront of the on-the-ground legal response to the multiple impacts of coal mining in Appalachia, ACLC combines direct legal work with advocacy on the multiple fronts of occupational health, mine safety, and environmental impacts. We have secured millions of dollars in black lung benefits for coal miners and their survivors; represented hundreds of Appalachian citizens in defense of safe, clean drinking water, and partnered with a broad coalition of activists and organizers to further all of our work. All our legal work is provided completely free of charge.

ACLC collaborates closely with several organizations sharing an interest in the problems of our clients, particularly in cases under the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act aimed at reforming the rampant abuses in the permitting and enforcement systems in those two laws as they are applied to mining, especially mountaintop removal.   We have worked particularly closely with the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Appalachian Voices, the Sierra Club, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, and the Alliance for Appalachia.  ACLC has worked in collaboration to alert and inform the public about the problems that result from coal mining and carry out litigation strategies that address the areas of greatest need and greatest abuse.

ACLC is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation.

ACLC timeline

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