Appalachian Voices headed to Charlotte, N.C., for the Democratic National Convention Sept. 3-6. Below are the reports as we met with current and future representatives to discuss the issues surrounding coal and a clean energy future for the Appalachian region!

Updates from our Front Porch Bloggers

Victory in Virginia ODEC Coal Plant Fight! | Participating In the Democratic Process

Victory in Virginia ODEC Coal Plant Fight!

Members of the Wise Energy for Virginia Coalition rejoiced recently over news that plans for the state’s largest proposed coal-fired power plant were put on hold.

Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, the third largest power utility in the Commonwealth, announced earlier this fall that it was suspending the permitting process for its proposed coal plant in the Hampton Roads area of Surry County. The 1500-megawatt, $6 billion plant would have been the state’s largest polluting power plant.

Appalachian Voices and the other four members of the coalition aided residents in a fierce, years-long battle to stop the proposed plant. The coalition credits mounting citizen objection, including pressure from ODEC’s own customers and shareholders — as well as declines in the coal market — for this long-awaited common sense decision. More than 8,000 people signed a petition to the Army Corps of Engineers opposing the plant.

“The suspension of plans for this plant, which would belch as much carbon dioxide as about 2 million cars, is a great sign for the fight against climate change. We look forward to seeing ODEC move away from fossil fuels and toward a future powered by wind and solar energy,” said Beth Kemler, Virginia state director with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, a coalition group.

Coalition member groups hope to work with ODEC on projects that provide more affordable and climate-friendly sources of energy for its customers, and pledge to keep a close eye on the utility to ensure it does not revive the coal plant proposal in the future.

Participating In the Democratic Process

At the beginning of September, Appalachian Voices headed to the front lines of our democracy at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

During the week, we handed out hundreds of “I Heart Mountains” buttons and engaged countless people on the need to end mountaintop removal coal mining, protect our waterways under the Clean Water Act, and transition Appalachia to a cleaner energy future. Joined by Tennessee resident Ann League, we walked the long halls of the convention arena and talked with dozens of lawmakers and leaders, including Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.

Dr. Matt Wasson, our director of programs, joined Ann League and Catawba Riverkeeper Rick Gaskins to participate in a televised panel discussion on the tragedies of the coal cycle, from mountaintop removal mining to the disposal of coal waste. We attended another special panel on the “Future of Energy” to support Sen. Ben Cardin, a champion of the movement to end mountaintop removal and transition away from coal.

Tennessee Director JW Randolph (right) meets former presidential candidate and retired General Wesley Clark.

Appalachian Voices also teamed up with Greenpeace to host a special “Bourbon, Bluegrass and a Better Future for Appalachia” reception at the New Gallery of Modern Art in downtown Charlotte.

The event was a smashing success, with impassioned calls to end mountaintop removal and rousing endorsements of our work from special guests including Sen. Cardin, green jobs guru and AV’s Board Advisory Council member Van Jones, and North Carolina Representative Pricey Harrison.

This marked the first time that AV brought our message to a national political convention. We also applied to attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa but were not awarded passes to that event.

For pictures and full updates, visit

Looking Beyond November

Appalachian Voices' Sandra Diaz signed up scores of people in Charlotte for the campaign to end mountaintop removal.

Last week, Appalachian Voices was on the front lines of our democracy at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Our “bourbon and bluegrass” reception for our friends and allies was a smashing success, with impassioned calls to end mountaintop removal coal mining and rousing endorsements of our work from Sen. Ben Cardin, Van Jones and North Carolina Representative Pricey Harrison. 

We handed out thousands of “I Heart Mountains” buttons and engaged countless people on the need to end mountaintop removal. We talked with dozens of lawmakers and leaders, were interviewed by numerous media outlets, and participated in a lively panel discussion on the dangers of coal ash.

Election Day is just weeks away. With the presidential candidates of both parties now officially nominated, the stage is set for one of the most important elections in recent history.
No matter who wins the White House, we will be defending Appalachia’s communities and environment with more voices, speaking louder than ever. We remain undeterred from our mission of moving state and national leaders to:

— End mountaintop removal once and for all;
— Recommit to the Clean Water Act and support the public servants who are entrusted with protecting public and environmental health; and
— Set the country on course for a cleaner energy future while providing opportunities for energy entrepreneurs to create jobs.

The first 100 days after a presidential election is a critical time to reach out to the existing or incoming White House on matters of national policy. In our view, ending mountaintop removal and protecting clean water in Appalachia must be a priority.

Moving Our Energy Policy Forward

Appalachian Voices’ Director of Programs Matt Wasson addresses a live and online audience about mountaintop removal and coal waste.

Tennessee Director JW Randolph and D.C. Director Kate Rooth greet EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson at the DNC.

Last night, it was great to see our Director of Programs Matt Wasson, our good friend from Tennessee, Ann League, and our colleague from North Carolina, Catawba Riverkeeper Rick Gaskins, engage in a lively discussion about the tragedies of the coal cycle, from mountaintop removal mining to the haphazard disposal of coal waste.

And today, our third in Charlotte for the DNC, with thousands of delegates from around the country charged up from the speeches last night, the energy is palpable. And the future of our nation’s energy policy is a hot topic.

From forums on renewable energy, public transit, energy efficiency, progressive economic policy, “free-market environmentalism” and energy and the presidency, it’s clear that the citizens here are engaged and enthusiastic about the prospects of a great American energy transition. Even the building that Appalachian Voices and many others are using for blogging and reporting has a rooftop wind turbine, photovoltaic panels and a solar/thermal system.

Charlotte continues to grow rapidly, and all week local leaders have sponsored sessions showcasing the city’s own efforts to shift to sustainable practices, reduce energy use and generally “walk the walk” that must come with all the talk.

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DNC Dispatch: Key political players attend App Voices party

Greetings from the DNC!

We had an absolutely fantastic evening at our “Bourbon, Bluegrass and a Better Future for Appalachia” reception in the heart of the convention area in uptown Charlotte yesterday. A full house joined us to celebrate our work protecting the environment and communities of Appalachia.

Van Jones speaks to a crowd of attendees at the App Voices reception Monday night

Van Jones delivered a powerful testimonial on the theme of “America the beautiful” in calling for an end to mountaintop removal coal mining and preserving the region’s outstanding scenic beauty. Van, a renowned environmental activist and former advisor to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, applauded Appalachian Voices as strong defenders of the basic patriotic principles of ensuring clean air, clean water and justice for all.

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Happy Labor Day from AV at the DNC

App Voices staff Lenny Kohm and Cat McCue arrive at CarolinaFest, one of the day-long kickoff events at the DNC
App Voices’ staff Lenny Kohm and Cat McCue arrive at CarolinaFest, one of the day-long kickoff events at the DNC

Happy Labor Day!

Appalachian Voices is in Uptown Charlotte today joining thousands of others to experience the 2012 Democratic National Convention. And what a scene it is! Instead of avoiding the crowd this Labor Day, we’re part of it.

The convention festivities kicked off with CarolinaFest, a street party with food, fun and fanfare, featuring entertainers James Taylor, Janelle Monae, Jeff Bridges and others. There are health groups, education groups, faith groups, youth groups and more.

Starting the moment we arrived – decked out in “I Heart Mountains” buttons – we’ve spoken to folks from across the country, all here to participate in our democracy as the nation approaches a monumental election. Follow us on our AV at the DNC web page!

We ask a simple question: Do you love mountains? Invariably people stop, and whether they’re from Charlotte, California or anywhere in between, they say, “yes.” So now there are scores of festival-goers sporting “I Heart Mountains” buttons, brochures in hand, that will take our message home.

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Ten Years In, the Clean Smokestacks Act Continues to Benefit Us All

Right now, members of Congress are at home hearing from their constituents about the issues they most care about. In this spirit, we joined residents of North Carolina working on water issues to visit the Charlotte office Sen. Kay Hagan. It was exciting to be in the Queen City, as it gears up for the Democratic National Convention, which Appalachian Voices will participate in next week.

On the issues important to us, Senator Hagan has voted on the side of clean air and water. She opposed a Senate Joint Resolution to overturn the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule, which will greatly reduce the amount of mercury that coal-fired power plants contribute to that air, water and fish. Hagan also opposed overturning the Cross-State Air Pollution rule which unfortunately has been having some trouble in the courts.

We took advantage of the opportunity to thank her for these votes, and encouraged her to remain strong on these issues, as we suspect these attacks will continue into the new Congress. The 112th Congress has been rated as one of the most anti-environmental Congresses ever, with 31 votes to undermine Clean Water Act protections and a total of 247 anti-environmental votes since January of 2011.

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Speaking Truth to Power: Appalachian Voices at the DNC

From the halls of Congress to small churches and community centers, Appalachian Voices has worked for years to make mountaintop removal an issue of national importance and awareness. Our members, volunteers and staff understand the importance of speaking truth to power with one strong collective voice. This is why next week we will travel to Charlotte, N.C., as all eyes turn to the Democratic National Convention.

During the convention, we’ll be tweeting, posting to Facebook and on our Front Porch Blog, sharing all of the important events happening in Charlotte and how they relate to our work to protect the communities of Central and Southern Appalachia. To make it easier for you to follow all the action, we’ve created a special page for all things DNC.

On September 3, Appalachian Voices and Greenpeace will host “Bourbon, Bluegrass and a Better Future for Appalachia,” where guests of honor Van Jones and Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth will join us in spirited celebration of our work protecting one of America’s most culturally and environmentally diverse regions.

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Van Jones

Audio of Van Jones speaking at our "Bluegrass, Bourbon and A Better Future for Appalachia" reception co-hosted with Greenpeace
appalachian.voices' DNC 2012 photosetappalachian.voices' DNC 2012 photoset