Everyone loves a challenge, and we at OVEC are no different. I’m excited to tell you about a challenge OVEC has received from the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. Between now and June 1, we need $20,000 in donations from folks like you. If we raise that $20,000, then we will receive a $20,000 matching grant from Mary Reynolds Babcock. Please help out and donate. Choose your method to donate here or go directly to our secure online server here.
With help from generous members, supporters and donors like yourself, you can double the value of your donation and also assist us in reaching our program and financial goals for 2016. When you donate to OVEC, you are connecting to a group that amplifies the voices of people living in communities impacted by the extreme extraction of coal, oil and gas (mountaintop removal mining and fracking, respectively). Your support helps to protect mountain communities and our precious water resources, which we must safeguard if we are to have sustainable economic development.
For example, because of OVEC’s active involvement and legal standing on lawsuits aimed at stopping toxic water pollution from mountaintop removal, settlement agreements in 2015 alone have provided more than $750,000 to the West Virginia Land Trust, a land conservation organization that preserves and protects our water and land for future generations.
In addition, during the 2016 WV legislative session, OVEC educated citizens about several bills which would have benefited the oil and gas industry. The most egregious, dubbed the “Nuisance Bill,” would have shielded companies (any) that interfere with the enjoyment and use of one’s property. Fortunately for landowners and our environment, this, and other measures favoring the oil and gas industry failed.
Beyond our efforts to preserve and protect the environment in West Virginia and the region, OVEC works on the root cause of many of the problems our state is facing—the issue of big special interests’ money in politics. Since 2002, OVEC has encouraged greater participation in our democracy by advocating for public funding of elections—a proven system where many small donors show their support of a candidate by contributing a small amount to their campaign; this qualifies a candidate to receive adequate public funding to run their campaign. Not only does this system increase civic participation, it also works!
In 2012, after one candidate was elected to the WV Supreme Court of Appeals through the use of public funding, the pilot project was made permanent by the state legislature. And now, in this election year, two candidates for the WV Supreme Court have opted to use this program. In essence, our successful campaign finance reform program is helping to preserve the integrity and impartiality of the state’s high court.
With our southern communities facing the economic impacts of coal’s decline, in addition to challenging polluting and extractive industries, OVEC is promoting a just and sustainable economic transition.
For example, OVEC partners with the Coalfield Development Corporation, which received funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to train young people, unemployed miners and veterans in environmental remediation work. OVEC’s primary role with this project is to serve on a broad steering committee, recruit trainees, promote the program through traditional and social media, and educate trainees about environmental justice. Also, we are partners in a gardening project with the Huntington Boys and Girls Club in Huntington, WV, to teach children useful skills and about the benefits of growing, eating and cooking local, healthy fresh foods.
Additionally, OVEC works with The Alliance for Appalachia to educate the public and others to promote the reauthorization of the federal Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program beyond 2022. Clean up for problems in Central Appalachia alone is currently estimated at $2.3 billion dollars, funds which could provide jobs which heal the land and help prevent further water pollution.
OVEC is also promoting the federal RECLAIM Act of 2016 (Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More), which would accelerate the release of $1 billion from the unappropriated balance in the AML Fund from 2017-2021, to assist with “economic revitalization, diversification, and development in economically distressed communities through the reclamation and restoration of land and water resources adversely affected by coal mining…” (http://halrogers.house.gov/uploadedfiles/reclaim_act_2016.pdf).
Of course, all of OVEC’s efforts require the financial support of dedicated and caring people like you. Won’t you please take advantage of this opportunity today to double your giving by donating?
Please take the time to simply fill out the enclosed card and mail your check in the envelope provided or go directly to OVEC’s website to donate here or here. Even if you have recently renewed your membership, will you consider an additional donation to help OVEC secure this $20,000 matching grant from the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation?
Thank you for your generous support of OVEC’s work!
For a just and sustainable West Virginia,
Janet Keating, OVEC Executive Director
p.s. Remember, we only have until June 1, 2016, to qualify for the $20,000 matching grant. Won’t you please answer the call? Donate on-line today here or here. Double your donation with this matching grant! OVEC is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, so all donations are tax deductible.