Every day, residents of Eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia are impacted by coal mining. Examples of these impacts include polluted water; diminished water supplies; damage to property from blasting, landslides, and subsidence; and health impacts associated with dust and water pollution. Many of these problems are preventable if existing laws were enforced by the agencies entrusted with the duty to enforce them. ACLC works with residents in both states who seek redress for their injuries and proper enforcement of environmental protection laws and who endeavor to challenge a permit application for a mine that would impact them.
Recently ACLC has been involved in efforts to:
- force state and federal regulators to evaluate the potential impacts of proposed surface mines on human health;
- stop companies from mining on land without the full consent of all of the land’s owners;
- hold companies accountable for falsifying pollution discharge reports; and to
- hold accountable the state environmental protection agencies that are mandated to regulate industry pollution.
ACLC was also consulted about the struggle for environmental justice in Appalachia for author John Grisham’s latest novel, Gray Mountain. In an author’s note, Grisham writes,
Thankfully, there are dozens of non-profits working diligently in the coalfields to protect the environment, change policy, and fight for the rights of miners and their families. One is the Appalachian Citizens Law Center in Whitesburg,, Kentucky. Mary Cromer and Wes Addington are wonderful lawyers there, and they provided guidance as I wandered through their region for the first time.
ACLC works closely with ally organizations, including Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Appalachian Voices, and the Alliance for Appalachia, in their efforts to bring lasting change in mining practices in Central Appalachia. ACLC works with these groups to end mountaintop removal and the devastating process of dumping rock and dirt and other mine waste into headwater streams in Central Appalachia. ACLC also works with these and other coalfield organizations to push for more protective permitting and enforcement practices at the state level and from the federal Office of Surface Mining and Environmental Protection Agency.