How can we use the past to impact the future?

Bodenhamer, Aysha. “King Coal: A Study Of Mountaintop Removal, Public Discourse, And Power In Appalachia.” Society & Natural Resources 29.10 (2016): 1139-1153. Academic Search Complete. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.


Coal elites argue that the coal industry promotes longevity, employment, energy security, while exhibiting aggression towards the grass roots environmentalists. The grass roots environmentalists argue that coal destroys the land, health, and community. Both sides use culture to back up their claims. The coal industry instills pride in its employees. They say that Obama cannot create jobs if the EPA is destroying them. Coal elites say that global warming is a hoax. 51% of the nation’s energy comes from West Virginia. Many residents in the area want to continue to live there, forcing them to support the industry. Poverty and lack of employment contribute to these feelings. Mountain Top Removal sites are replacing and destroying jobs with the use of machines. Mountain Top Removal not only destroys the environment, but also destroys the community in the area. The grass roots environmentalists unite the residents of Appalachia to stand up to the mountain top removal coal elites.


Kratzer. “Coal Mining and Population Loss in Appalachia.” Journal of Appalachian Studies 21.2 (2015): 173. Web. Oct. 2015.


The study looks at the correlation between the coal industry and economic growth in Appalachia, between 2000-2010. Appalachia is known for its abundant natural resources. Timber was the first major industry in the area and destroyed thousands of years of top soil. Other parts of the country and the world flourished at the expensive of Appalachia. The resource curse is slow economic growth due to the abundance of natural resources. Appalachia’s poverty rate has declined, along with the coal industry, and the dominance of extractive industries. “Economy should be shaped around an understanding of people as being integrally connected to their land and community. Berry is consistently critical of an economic paradigm that reduces individuals to their productive abilities (labor) and consumer desires (consumption)” (Kratzer, 177). Exporting resources is also exporting jobs. There was a correlation between coal production and economic stagnation, decreased unemployment and poverty and increased per capita income.


Pasqualetti, Martin J. “Wind Power. (Cover Story).” Environment 46.7 (2004): 22-38. Academic Search Complete. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.


Modern day wind mills made their debut in California in 1981. Business owners consider meteorology, physics, aerodynamics, capacity, land ownership, and many other disciplines, lots of jobs and planning go into the placement of windmills. Some sections of Appalachia range from good to superb location for windmills. It is much higher in other areas of the country such as California and Texas. Farmers that have windmills constructed on their property could receive thousands of dollars per year, differing from state to state. The program, Wind Powering America, aims to increase rural economic development. The biggest complaint of windmills is that they destroy the aesthetic appeal of the landscape. Many birds run in the windmills and die. Offshore wind farms is one solution to visibly seeing the windmills. There was backlash that there was not enough notification before a turbines were going to be installed. Wind energy is the fastest group renewable energy resource in the world. The areas that have wind energy development say that instills a new sense of community.


“AIRE – The Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy.” N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.


The Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy (AIRE) is a non-profit that is working to move Appalachia away from coal industry and towards more renewable and sustainable energy. The motto of the AIRE is “Pioneering approaches for community investment in renewable energy.” The AIRE’ executive director is Steve Owen. Owen is working towards creating bridges between the grassroots effort and the end of mountain top removal by directing the focus towards sustainable and renewable energy. The company funds their operations by using tax cuts and government programs. They work in critical policy research, and educating individuals to the possibility of initiating renewable energy in their company or institution. They also help in the development of sustainable energy projects in Appalachian communities. Their pilot project’s focus was to minimize importing energy and trying to keep the money within the North Carolina community. The company’s main focus is to exhibit that solar energy can be affordable through tax-equity finance.


Stolberg, S. G. (2016, August 18). Beyond Coal: Imagining Appalachia’s Future. Retrieved November 21, 2016, from


The New York Times did a story on the people of Kentucky trying to find new jobs as the coal industry has hit an all-time low. Stolberg mentions the motivation some of had to learn a new school to find a new career, such as computer programing. The men talk about their struggle about overcoming little education and having to learn a new skill such as programming. Many are turning to farming as a fall back career, which is not a lucrative career. Hemp farming is another industry taking off in Kentucky that has been authorized to be used in an industrial sense. Reforms that have come from Washington DC have yet to be proven effective, so SOAR, Shaping Our Appalachian Region, is a local group trying to innovate the region. Another point brought up is the youth wanting to stay and improve the region instead of moving away. Prisons are another industry popular in the region, that has as much controversy as mining. Moonshine is the last industry briefly mentioned in the article.  The enthusiasm of individuals to move away from mining I think is what the country needs. More long term industries are also essential for Appalachia to thrive. Farming may not be the best long term solution because with the legalization of weed in many states.


SOAR. (2016). Retrieved November 21, 2016, from


SOAR is a program that connects individuals in Appalachia with programs that are native to Appalachia. A lot of people believe SOAR will be more effective than programs coming from Washington DC because it is people from the area who are native to the problems individuals are facing in the area. SOAR puts people in contact with programs in regional food systems, small business in the digital economy, industrial development, 21st century skills, tourism, healthier communities, broadband expansion, and energy and natural resources. SOAR serves 54 counties in eastern Kentucky. SOAR allows individuals gives the individuals with motivation to start a career or business all the resources the help them get started. If the companies begin in Appalachia it keeps the money within in the community instead of a large company coming in a moving the money out of the area. SOAR also allows individuals to build a successful career even without a prior education.


Inside Appalachia’s ‘American Dream’ [Advertisement]. (2016, September 2). West Virginia.


The first part of the podcast is an interview with JD Vance the author of Hillbilly Elegy. He mentions that sometimes individuals from the area separate the poverty among the races, but he has always found that they struggle the same no matter what their race. I wondered if this separation in poverty may be stemmed from the coal being segregated. The podcast also discussed how so many people have been thrown into poverty with the decline of coal. Future President has often said “Lets Make America Great Again” and many individuals have argued that America is already great. Those who have suffered from President Obama’s major decline in coal resonate with the words of Donald Trump. As the EPA is trying to reduce carbon emissions coal companies are fighting the bill. Companies, however, say no matter the outcome of the bill they are choosing other forms of energy because of the demand for cleaner energy as well as natural gas is cheaper.


Delebert Liller [E-mail interview]. (2016, November 16).


My grandfather grew up in poverty in Appalachia and raised my dad and his siblings in the sad poverty that engulfs Appalachia. He got a degree in Engineering and worked for a variety of coals companies. He had worked for so many because they kept going out of business. He eventually started testing methods of cleaning coal in the basement of the home he built himself. My grandfather developed nine patens that reduced the dust and harmful by products associated with coal. He sold the idea to a coal company that later fired him and continued to use his idea. As coal continues to decline we tried to discuss other industries that could be used to promote economic growth in Appalachia. We discussed underground fires that are burning, a plethora of energy going to waste and not being harnessed. Windmills are becoming popular in Garrett County Maryland, a sustainable and renewable energy source. I believe there is a lot to learn in my grandfather’s experience that could be useful as new industries take off in Appalachia.

About ARC. (2016). Retrieved December 11, 2016, from


The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) works to try to stimulate the economy in the region. The poverty rate in Appalachia has decline in the last fifty years, from 31% in 1960 to 17% around 2010. The ARC receives government funding and then passes it on distressed and local governments. The ARC receives money for the government that can be allotted to help save or create jobs. As the money is repaid it can go to help create or retain more jobs in the region. There is also money allotted to help stimulate 13 rural regions by looking at what the region has to offer and then stimulating the connections and community. Some of these projects want to stimulate the cultural heritage local to the region as they revitalize their towns. I think it is important to stick to the roots and cultural heritage and new industries are taking off. The strong roots will help to preserve the mountains and resources within the area.


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