Sept. 4, 2012. Appalachian Voices Executive Director Willa Mays and several other staff members will attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte next week to focus the nation’s attention on the devastating impacts of coal on the region’s environment and communities, and to call for a swift transition to clean, sustainable energy sources in Appalachia and the U.S.
Representatives of Appalachian Voices will be inside the convention talking to delegates and members of Congress to advocate for an end to mountaintop removal, an especially destructive form of coal mining that has destroyed more than 500 ancient mountains and buried or poisoned more than 2,000 miles of stream.
On Monday, the group is co-sponsoring a reception with Greenpeace titled “Bourbon, Bluegrass and a Better Future for Appalachia,” with special guests including Van Jones, an expert in “green economy” and former advisor to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Rep. John Yarmuth, of Kentucky’s 3rd congressional district and champion of the Clean Water Protection Act, which would help end mountaintop removal.
On Tuesday, Appalachian Voices’ director of programs, Dr. Matt Wasson, will be featured on a panel discussion of coal ash – a largely hidden threat in America until the catastrophic failure of TVA’s ash slurry pond in Kingston, Tennessee. Each year, coal-burning utilities generate 130 million tons of coal ash, which contains toxics such as arsenic and selenium, and dump it in more than 1,000 coal ash ponds across the country. Despite these dangers, coal ash is less regulated than household garbage.
Appalachian Voices’ staff will also be at Monday’s CarolinaFest event, signing up citizen activists to help protect watersheds in North Carolina and around the region by defending the Clean Water Act, one of the most successful environmental laws in the nation but now under attack by coal industry lobbyists and their allies in Congress.