Thanks to all of you who took action in 2015! If you attend our events, read our newsletters, subscribe to our action alerts and press releases or follow us on social media, then you know a lot went on in 2015. Here’s recap of some of our successes and highlights, made possible because of your support:
In November, OVEC celebrated the purchase and remodel of the building that has served us for 17 years. With the good work of Coalfield Development Corporation, a non-profit that provides on-the-job training and more for unemployed young folks and out-of-work miners, not only do we have expanded space for our staff rooted in the Huntington community, but also our remodel includes many reused/recycled materials and energy efficiency measures!
Our persistent efforts in the legal realm have stopped some mountaintop removal mines altogether, slowed others down and forced mining companies to spend nearly $500 million on treating toxic mine pollution. (In January, we’ll post a blog summarizing our 2015 mountaintop removal litigation successes, so do check back for that!)
In March, OVEC helped organize, publicize and host “The People’s Foot Rally” at the WV Department of Environmental Protection’s office. Approximately 200 residents demanded a moratorium on mountaintop removal permits. The next day, directors of the state health and environmental departments said the state would review health studies tied to mountaintop removal.
OVEC staff and volunteers organized a West Virginia event in conjunction the international event, “The Ground Beneath Our Hearts.” On a cold, rainy September day, participants joined communities around the world impacted by mining as well as oil and gas development to celebrate their resilience and love of place.
We organized two community fracking forums attracted nearly 240 participants. In September, we took seven folks who attended these meetings on a ground tour to northern WV, where shale development is already impacting communities. We also organized a tour and presentation in July for OVEC’s board members.
For the past year, OVEC initiated and helped organize the Ohio River Citizens’ Alliance, a multi-state alliance aimed at protecting the Ohio River from the impacts of shale gas and oil development. See page 9 here for details.
For more than a year, OVEC has worked with the Kanawha Forest Coalition and community leaders to stop a mountaintop removal site that threatens the Kanawha State Forest. In June, the DEP issued a press release announcing that Keystone Industries (the permit holder) and Revelation Energy (the mine operator) have been added to the “Applicant Violator System,” blocking the company from new mine permits anywhere in the country until they address the ongoing violations at the KD#2 mine.
OVEC has been pushing for a dry press method of coal waste disposal since 2004. In February, we learned that six coal treatment plants have begun using this method, which eliminates the need for slurry impoundments that leach toxic chemicals into both groundwater and nearby streams.
Our earlier work with EarthQuaker Action Team (EQAT) to protest funding of MTR paid off in April when PNC announced it would effectively cease its investment in mountaintop removal mining.
In January, we worked with the West Virginia Safe Water Roundtable to mark the anniversary of the coal-cleaning chemical spill with “A Month of Water.” More than 150 people attended workshops and a dinner with lawmakers and around 300 attended a screening of the documentary Elk River Blues. Around 100 folks attended the interfaith candlelight vigil (Honoring the Waters) at the Kanawha River.
Over the past year, OVEC mentored Tyler Cannon as part of the Appalachian Transition Fellowship program. Tyler completed the program, compiling 14 profiles of successful energy efficiency and solar projects in WV that will be used to educate the general public and lawmakers about the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The documentary, Time To Choose, was screened in Paris during the UN climate-change conference. Last year, OVEC’s media liaison helped researchers extensively with the mountaintop removal portion of the documentary and served as an on-the ground and aerial guide.
Oh, and more than 100 people had a blast at our 19th Treehuggers’ Ball.
In April, OVEC received the second annual Jean and Leslie Douglas Pearl Award, given by the Cornell Douglas Foundation to organizations “who are dedicated to improving the lives of others and to providing a sustainable earth for future generations.”
In August, OVEC’s Executive Director, Janet Keating, was named one of Environmental Working Group’s Women of Courage.
In September, OVEC was presented with their 8th annual FOCIS award from the Catholic Committee in Appalachia. The FOCIS award is given to groups that provide 1) an exemplary expression of Catholic social teaching; (2) actions which make the Gospel concrete in Appalachia; (3) minister to people where they are; (4) a tradition of service; and (5) an appreciation of Appalachia. See page 9 here for details.
OVEC’s work is successful because of the work of our volunteers, members and supporters, including foundations that support our work, such as the Appalachian Community Fund. Thank you!
As you make your end donations, please remember OVEC. Donations to OVEC are tax-deductible.