Archive for the 'South East Region' Category

Southeast Student Renewable Energy Conference

Tumultuous times call for strong communities and relationships to be forged as we break our ties to dirty energy. This October, Southern youth are coming together for a rendezvous of old friends and new partners at the Southeast Student Renewable Energy Conference (SSREC). Here in the Southeastern United States, we are constantly playing David and Goliath with dirty energy companies whose profits come at the cost of human health and the environment. The BP catastrophe is only the latest in a long line of attempts to capitalize on fossil fuels that have left people struggling in their wake. Though through struggle we grow and so it appears that the frustrations with dealing with coastal cleanups, lapsed regulatory permits, and proposed coal plants are being channeled into a growing network of Southerners dedicated to quitting our fossil fuel addictions and envisioning a cleaner leaner energy economy.

Please come over to Athens, GA to join this clean energy movement at the Southeast Student Renewable Energy Conference (SSREC) on October 1-3, 2010. Continue reading ‘Southeast Student Renewable Energy Conference’

Asheville Summer of Solutions: An Invitation

cross-posted from the Solutionaries blog

To the restless young person who wants to spend their summer collaborating with a community to usher in solutions for our planetary woes,

You are invited to join Summer of Solutions Asheville for a summer of extraordinary possibility. Unique to the city of Asheville, and yet tied to the other Summer of Solutions programs, SoS Asheville will work within our community to strive towards sustainable community development. This summer program, led-by and geared towards youth, will offer different levels of participation with some participants living together, while others work on projects for short term or part-time durations. Projects will focus on things, which are, or can become, solutions to the underlying global, regional, and local challenges we face, whether that is our fossil fuel dependency or our fractured local communities.
As this is the first year of the program in Asheville, every participant can have a hand in shaping the outcomes and creating the projects that will define our Summer of Solutions. We will live and work together on at least one large-scale project and several smaller projects through the summer that will challenge us to develop new skills.

Asheville has played host to adventurers, artists, and visionaries throughout its history and provides a fertile ground for a program like Summer of Solutions to emerge. Building on generations of this experience we will collaborate with partners from city council to art collectives. We are initiating SoS Asheville with a listening project in order to become more keenly aware of the possibilities for our place within the community. As the listening project continues we suspect that projects will come out of the countless conversations and public dialogues we have. Currently though, we are beginning to develop potential projects that will support an integrated understanding of the community, alternative economic models, and energy efficiency and conservation. Continue reading ‘Asheville Summer of Solutions: An Invitation’

Florida Students Start the Long Road to Their Student Green Energy Fund Campaign

{Written by Dan Cannon, Florida Organizer at the Southern Energy Network}

Green energy fund

Green Fees are becoming more and more common on campuses all across the country. A simple idea of young people putting their money where their mouth is by creating small campus fees that cumulate to eventually set aside millions of dollars to be spent only on “green” projects. Green Fees are a great way to encourage campuses to go green quickly and consistently, most campuses and students groups are managing to set up green fees on their campus in one semester or less. Unfortunately for Florida students, setting up a green fee on campuses is an extremely difficult process. Unlike most states and universities any and all Florida student fees must first be passed through state legislation. So in order for Florida students to pass campus “green fees” legislation must be passed through the state legislator.
Luckily students in Florida have not been discouraged by this long tedious process. Florida students have made their campaign the Student Green Energy Fund a top priority; they have been working on the campaign since 2007. This year Florida students from eight campuses (FSU, FIU, FGCU,NCF,UF, FAMU,UCF, USF) have come together to work collectively around passing this legislation (Senate Bill 778 and House Bill 505). Continue reading ‘Florida Students Start the Long Road to Their Student Green Energy Fund Campaign’

The power of Dr. King’s dream changed my life

Growing up as a child in East Oakland, CA, poverty and pollution were the backdrops of my day-to-day life. A major freeway poured exhaust fumes onto my elementary school grounds, and the creek in my backyard ran thick with waste. We were just kids, chasing tadpoles despite the stench. But I grew up fast. I lost my mother to the streets when I was only six. Soon after, I lost my father to prison.

Despite losing my mom, the draw of the money that I saw young men making selling drugs was strong. I decided I’d get mine too. In January of 2005, I was arrested for possession with intent to sell crack cocaine and marijuana.
It’s a familiar tale, right? My story, though, turns out differently than too many of the people I grew up with.
Given the choice of jail or school, I chose to enroll at a community college. While there, I learned about the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. I decided I needed to build something lasting for my community. I began the journey that would lead me to Dr. King’s alma mater, Morehouse College.

Continue reading ‘The power of Dr. King’s dream changed my life’

Science Confirms the Abhorrently Obvious: Blowing Up Mountains Damages Environment, Human Health

Or should I say, the obviously abhorrent…

The incredibly destructive coal mining practice known as “mountaintop removal” causes “pervasive and irreversible” damage to human health and the environment, according to an authoritative scientific study released today.

The comprehensive and far-reaching scientific review, entitled “Mountaintop Mining Consequences“, was conducted by members of the National Academy of Sciences and is being published in the prestigious journal Science.

The study summarized dozens of pre-existing scientific papers analyzing the impacts of mountaintop removal mining, a type of surface coal mining that uses huge amounts of explosives to blast away the tops of mountains to expose coal seams. The resulting debris (aka the former mountain) are typically disposed of through a practice known as “valley fills,” where tons of mining debris are dumped into neighboring valleys, burying miles of headwater streams and valley ecosystems.

According to a press release on the study:

…the authors outline severe environmental degradation taking place at mining sites and downstream. The practice destroys extensive tracts of deciduous forests and buries small streams that play essential roles in the overall health of entire watersheds. Waterborne contaminants enter streams that remain below valley fills and can be transported great distances into larger bodies of water.

Mountaintop removal mining has already buried more than 800 miles of Appalachian streams and destroyed hundreds of square miles of woodlands in one of America’s biodiversity hotspots, all while both the U.S. EPA and state environmental agencies have allowed the destructive practice to continue. That’s left it to activists to slow these projects down and prevent their irreversible damages.

The new scientific study condemned federal and state regulation of mountaintop removal mining operations, concluding that “Current attempts to regulate [mountaintop mining and associated valley fill] practices are inadequate,” and that “Regulators should no longer ignore rigorous science.”
Continue reading ‘Science Confirms the Abhorrently Obvious: Blowing Up Mountains Damages Environment, Human Health’

ALERT: Blasting Begins on Coal River Mountain

An update from Coal River Mountain Watch and Appalachian Voices. You can take emergency action here.

Mountaintop Removal Mining to Destroy 6,600 Acres-and Wind Potential

Appalachian community advocates and environmentalists across the nation are expressing outrage that mountaintop removal coal mining operations have begun on Coal River Mountain in West Virginia, a mountain that has become symbolic in the nationwide campaign to end mountaintop removal mining. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection told the Charleston Gazette on Monday that blasting had begun last week, confirming local reports of blasts and smoke that were witnessed on Friday near the Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment, the largest slurry dam in Appalachia with the capacity to hold 8.2 billion gallons. Slurry is the by-product of coal washing and processing operations and contains high levels of toxic heavy metals like mercury, selenium and lead.

For the last two years, local residents have campaigned for the opportunity to place a commercial-scale wind farm on Coal River Mountain instead of the mountaintop removal mining that has been permitted by the state. The Coal River Wind campaign has focused on asking West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin to rescind the mining permits for Coal River Mountain. So far, Governor Manchin has denied the group’s request.

“The Coal River Wind Campaign has been a symbol of hope for the people of the Coal River Valley,” said Lorelei Scarbro, organizer for Coal River Mountain Watch. “My neighbors are excited about the idea of jobs that allow them to produce energy in a way that is sustainable. Coal River Mountain, the last standing mountain in the valley, should remain intact as a symbol for a new day in the Appalachian coalfields.”

With no response from Governor Manchin’s office, residents and environmental groups are now looking to the Obama administration to intervene.
Continue reading ‘ALERT: Blasting Begins on Coal River Mountain’

A Moment of Truth for Appalachia, Obama and EPA on Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

A moment of truth has arrived for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and President Barack Obama, who has promised “unprecedented steps” to rein in the devastating practice of mountaintop removal coal mining that is wrecking havoc across wide swaths of Appalachian mountains, valleys and communities.

EPA is expected to announce decisions this week on over 100 pending permits for new or expanded coal mining projects utilizing mountaintop removal (MTR), which uses huge amounts of explosives to decapitate mountains and access the coal beneath, dumping the remains of these once-verdant Appalachian peaks directly on top of neighboring valleys and streams.

Mountaintop removal mining has already buried more than 800 miles of Appalachian streams and destroyed hundreds of square miles of woodlands in one of America’s biodiversity hotspots, all while both the U.S. EPA and state environmental agencies have done little to curtail the practice. That’s left it to activists to slow these projects down and prevent their irreversible damages.

But if recent news that the EPA is seeking to revoke the permit for the largest mountaintop removal mining project in West Virginia history is any indicator, the agency may finally be earning the “Protection” part of their name.

With a self-imposed, September 8th deadline now expired, the EPA is expected to issue an “initial list” this week identifying pending mountaintop removal projects that pose potential environmental concerns. Continue reading ‘A Moment of Truth for Appalachia, Obama and EPA on Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining’

FL Students DEMAND Action: “Give us the Green Fee!!”

Many of you know, Southern Energy Network has been working with amazing students in the University System of Florida that have been absolutely rocking the Green Fee campaign all over! In fact, 10 out of the 11 universities in the state system are actively planning and campaigning to get the Fee on their campus. 5 schools have already passed student referenda in support of the Fee. This year, they took it to the state, working with Senator Lee Constantine to present the Fee in the form of and amendment to Senate Bill 1996. Following the Bill to the floor, students from 5 universities attended the original committee meeting, where it passed 3 to 1 with one absent. They were again present at the next committee meeting where the bill passed unanimously.

Late last night, we got the word that the Renewable Energy Fund amendment, along with Florida Senate Bill 1996 was stalling at the Higher Education Appropriations Committee. This committee is chaired by Senator Evelyn Lynn, who opposes the fee, which would allow schools that have approved the fee to implement it. It is not mandatory. The students are asking for it. It is their money!

If it passed, it would allow University of Florida to implement a mere 50 cent per credit hour fee, which would generate nearly $800,000 to be used to increase efficiency and invest in renewable energy. New College of Florida would also be able to implement the $1 per credit hour fee that their students and administration approved, which is the maximum that would be allowed under the legislation.

Please take time to show your support of the Green Fee in Florida! Send the email below, or your version of it, ask your friends to do the same! Help us make it viral! Link this in your Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere!

For more info on the history of this campaign, check out the <a href=””>Florida Green Fee Coalition</a>.


Dear Senator Lynn,

I, _______________________________, am a student strongly in support of the Green Fee currently being proposed for public universities across the state of Florida. Myself, as well as students at five other public universities within Florida, voted in support of referendums on our campuses dealing with funding for the Green Fee. Along with student backing from the remaining Florida institutions, the campaign has grown to all the public universities in the state over the past 2 years. The Florida Student Association has also endorsed the passage of this legislation. Students are not only willing, but eager to contribute financially to sustainability efforts on their own respective campuses.

With Earth Day quickly approaching, supporting SB 1996 would be an incredible effort in the fight against global climate change. With your support and this groundbreaking legislation, Florida will have the opportunity to be a leader in sustainability efforts on campuses across the country. Please support the concerns of university students in Florida by making every effort to see that the Green Fee becomes a reality.


A fraction of the Florida students demanding the opportunity to invest in their future!

A fraction of the Florida students demanding the opportunity to invest in their future!

Obama Has the Power to End Appalachia’s Agony

Originally posted at WattHead – Energy News and Commentary

[Updated: 3/30/09 at 2:20 PM PST, see below]

I’m not sure how, but I missed this excellent editorial in the New York Times on Monday. The Times editorial board seems to have fully grasped the horror and tragedy of mountaintop removal coal mining. Remarking on an upsetting recent court ruling that paves the way for the devastation of more mountains, ecosystems and communities in Appalachia, the ed board writes in “Appalachia’s Agony:”

“The longstanding disgrace of mountaintop mining is now squarely in President Obama’s hands.”

Indeed it is. And it’s high time for President Obama, who said during the campaign that he “did not support” the dastardly practice, to direct his administration to take action and end Appalachia’s agony. Read on for the full editorial…
Continue reading ‘Obama Has the Power to End Appalachia’s Agony’

The Fight is on to End Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

An update in the fight to end mountaintop removal coal mining from our friends at Appalachian Voices. With the re-introduction of the federal Clean Water Protection Act last week (with a record 117 co-sponsors!) and a number of state-level efforts underway, there are many new fronts opening in the ongoing effort to stop the injustices of mountaintop removal. Here’s the current tally of state and federal efforts underway…

Although this is a bare bones post, here is some important information about state-level efforts to end mountaintop removal coal mining… Please check back here soon for updates!

North Carolina: Appalachian Mountains Preservation Act
House Bill
Senate Bill

Select news coverage:
WUNC (North Carolina Public Radio)
Winston-Salem Journal
The Charlotte Observer

Maryland: House Bill 743
Bill Summary (PDF)
NRDC Switchboard Blog: “Momentum Peaks Against Mountaintop Mining

Georgia: Appalachian Mountains Preservation Act “The Appalachian Mountains Preservation Act”

Kentucky: The Stream Saver Bill
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth: “Stream Saver Bill”
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth: “I Love Mountains Day – 2009″

Tennessee: The Scenic Vistas Protection Act
Tennessee General Assembly bill summary
Lindquist-Environmental Appalachian Fellow bill summary

Still coming down the pipe soon…
South Carolina, Maine, and New York!

Oh, and in case you haven’t heard, the federal Clean Water Protection Act is back!
Get in on the action here!

South East Region

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