OVEC Press Release: September 17, 2014

For Immediate Release                                                         September 17, 2014
Contact:  Vivian Stockman, 304-553-1962, vivian@ohvec.org

West Virginians Head to The People’s Climate March
The Change We Need!

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Members of the Huntington, W.Va.-based Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC) and other Appalachians will be among the tens of thousands of people heading to New York City for The People’s Climate March on September 21, two days before a United Nations summit on climate change.

March organizers expect it to be the largest march demanding change in America’s energy policies. There will be solidarity events around the world. West Virginians will lead the call for decisive action that protects public health and the safety of water from energy sources that are both a local hazard and a global threat.

OVEC is a member group of The Alliance for Appalachia, which in turn is a member group of the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), which notes that the climate crisis is a symptom of a deeper problem: an economy based on extraction and exploitation of resources and people. This economy benefits a few at the expense of communities and the planet. A large delegation of CJA members plans to march together on September 21.

“Fossil fuel energy use and production is the primary driver of climate chaos. We’ll march with the CJA delegation because we know firsthand how the current ‘all of the above’ energy policy sacrifices our water and the health of people and the planet for the sake of corporate profit,” says Vivian Stockman, OVEC’s project coordinator. “We’ll march to tell politicians, at all levels of government, that they must stop kowtowing to extractive and polluting industries and start making energy policy that preserves clean water, public health and life itself.”

The West Virginia coal mining industry is responsible for rising black lung disease among coal miners, acid mine drainage and other coal-related water pollution, as well as dire human health and ecological problems from mountaintop removal coal mining. Also, in recent years, a rapid growth in activities associated with deep shale gas drilling has subjected more communities to threats of water and air contamination and subsequent health problems. Recent extractive industry proposals include drilling under the Ohio River and building a massive natural gas pipeline through the mountains. 

“West Virginia, the U.S. and the U.N. are careening in the wrong direction on climate action. Politicians and corporate leaders want more business as usual, more corporate control. But we want to change direction,” says OVEC member Mary Wildfire. “Our vision includes a just transition to post-extraction, localized economies, based on locally owned renewable energy and intensive organic polyculture agricultural systems. To get there, we need true democratic governance and a cultural shift away from over-consumption.”

The frontlines of the climate crisis are low-income people, communities of color and indigenous communities. “We are the hardest hit by both climate disruption –– the storms, floods and droughts –– as well as by the extractive, polluting and wasteful industries causing global warming. We are also at the forefront of innovative community-led solutions that ensure a just transition off fossil fuels, and that support an economy good for both people and the planet,” CJA notes in its call to action for The People’s Climate March.

CJA’s demand: “World leaders must take action to move money to a just transition that can create millions of meaningful jobs and put our communities back to work building the resilient infrastructure we need to address the climate crisis, from clean community power, zero waste, and local food systems to public transit and housing families.”


Hashtags for the march and people’s events surrounding the march include: #PeoplesClimate #ItTakesRoots #JustTransition #OurPower