Defend Our Water - Day of Action in Pittsburgh!

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The petrochemical industry will be holding its annual Shale Insight Conference from Tuesday, October 23 - Thursday, October 25 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA -- and local groups are organizing to send a message that they are unwelcome here. Join us for three days of action around the city of Pittsburgh! See below for a schedule of the events open to the public.

If you have any questions about these events, please contact Sarah Martik at smartik@coalfieldjustice.org or 724-229-3550x1

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Native Water Ceremony: 10 a.m.at the Fountain at Point State Park, the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers

Led by Degawenodas, Wolf Clan of the Seneca, and Ojibwe "water walker" Sharon Day.

Stand in Solidarity with members of the Seneca community and other Native and faith leaders to protect our rivers and waters.

About the Water Ceremony with Ojibwe leader Sharon Day: Women make the offerings for the water. Bring a small amount of water from upstream of the river or creek near your home to add to a pail of water we will carry. Women wear long skirts to show our respect for the grass, for mother earth, and for ourselves. Men support the women and carry the eagle feather staff. Even if you do not wish to participate in the ceremony directly, everyone can be present to support the ceremony!

Rally: Noon at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center (Allegheny River side)

Join with Indigenous leaders and impacted community members for a peaceful rally to defend our waters from fracking, pipelines, and petrochemicals. Take action on land or water (bring your own kayak!)

Film Screening: 5 p.m. at the Harris Theater

Denying Access: NoDAPL to NoNAPL

Join Seneca filmmaker Tami Watt for the Pittsburgh premiere of the documentary film about the Dakota and Northern Access pipelines. Q&A will follow.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

SPECIAL EVENT: 6 p.m. EDDY Theater at Chatham University

AN EVENING WITH DR. SANDRA STEINGRABER AND CHANDA CHEVANNES

A special presentation by Dr. Sandra Steingraber and screening of the award-winning documentary film Unfractured at the EDDY Theater on the Chatham University campus in Shadyside. Filmmaker Chanda Chevannes will introduce the film and Dr. Steingraber will take your questions.

To RSVP for any of the actions, click here.

To RSVP specifically for the Thursday October 25th event here, click here.


CCJ Goes to Washington, DC to Advocate for Black Lung Trust Fund and RECLAIM Act

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The PA Center for Coalfield Justice joined forces with the Alliance for Appalachia and traveled to Washington DC to influence lawmakers on a few coalfield issues.  We spent three days, September 24th - September 26 meeting with various Senatorial and Congressional Staff from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.  

The goals of the lobbying trip revolved around three key issues.  The Black Lung Trust Fund helps support Coal Miners that have been diagnosed with Black Lung and no longer have a company to help them with medical bills.  This happens when the company a miner used to work for, or still continues to work for, has gone bankrupt or refuses to pay for medical help. Currently, there has been a $1.10 per ton of coal tax on underground mines charged to the coal company that directly supports the Trust Fund.  This tax is slated to be cut in half at the beginning of 2019. This is a problem because it has previously run at a high deficit since the Trust Fund was established in the 1980’s. Last year alone, the fund ran at over a 1 billion dollar deficit, which ends up being a burden on taxpayers.  We proposed, with the help of a GAO (Government Accountability Office) study done this year, that the tax per ton of coal actually be raised 25% (27 cents) to help make the Trust Fund solvent by the year 2050. At the very least, we advocated for the tax to be extended into 2019. Senator Manchin from West Virginia agreed to lead the charge on writing legislation to, at the least, extend the Fund into 2019.

This was my first time lobbying lawmakers in Washington, DC.  It was an exciting experience to advocate for the workers and families in my community.  It was satisfying to enlighten and influence the lawmakers and their staff about the ongoing issues and struggles we face in southwestern PA. 
— Nick Hood, Community Organizer

The RECLAIM Bill was the second key issue focused upon during the trip.  The bill prescribes general requirements for projects to reclaim abandoned mine lands and waters that are likely to create favorable conditions for the economic development of the project site or promote the general welfare through economic and community development of the area in which the project is conducted. Any such project shall be located in a community affected by a recent decline in mining.  At the present, the House has not been able to bring the bill to the floor to spark a vote. We tried to convince lawmakers to pick up momentum on this and push for the bill to be brought to the House floor for a vote to move this bill into action.

The third issue focused on throughout the week was regarding Miners Pensions.   Legislators from coal states have pressed for federal help to prevent what some have described as a looming national crisis: The United Mine Workers of America’s retirement and health-care funds currently support about 120,000 former miners and their families nationwide, but the account balances have rapidly declined as some coal companies shed dues-paying workers and others filed for bankruptcy protection. Without intervention, some of the funds — chiefly those associated with firms in bankruptcy — could run out of cash before spring, Congressional officials say. We asked staff members to urge their boss the importance of this issue.  Again, taxpayers should not have to shoulder the burden of coal companies unsafe, unhealthy and unsustainable work practices.





#KavaNOPE

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Recent allegations surrounding President Trump's Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh have flooded the news lately.  Numerous sexual assault claims have arisen in light of his nomination. I strongly believe that, for too many women, the meaning of being victimized by sexual assault has been lost or distorted or dismissed along the way.  The scrutiny these women are exposed to by bringing forth their claims is painstaking and unwarranted. Not only do they have to live their lives with these horrifying experiences in the back of their minds, but they are also then put under a microscope and made to relive and recreate these awful memories when they come forward.  

Kavanaugh, if confirmed, will be part of making crucial decisions that affect our nation's laws and our interpretations of the law.  Someone who has treated women this way throughout his life does not deserve to have decision-making power over our nation’s most important laws and values.

Additionally, as his background pertains to our environmental and social justice work,  Kavanaugh is an unfavorable candidate for a Supreme Court Justice. We do not need another extreme conservative on the Supreme Court who will not take environmental and human rights seriously. We know that he will not do so because he is willing to brush off these sexual assault accusations with such malice and opposition.  He has caused multiple women to uproot their lives and expose themselves and their families to harsh criticism, and he has treated them with disdain and contempt. This is unacceptable for someone who could potentially be on the highest court in our country. I prefer someone who clearly values all people’s rights and has good and moral ethics.  

We have a serious need for male leaders who respect women and will not dismiss or make light of sexual assault.  I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like for women who have raised assault allegations against powerful men.  The battles they must face should not have to be endured by anyone. A good and just leader, in my opinion, respects the rights of ALL people.  No exceptions. Hopefully, in the future, we can learn from our present mistakes and faults.

-Nick Hood, Community Organizer

Send a letter to your Senator below:


Fun Times at CCJ's Annual Party in the Park

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The Center for Coalfield Justice just held its 4th annual Party in the Park Fall Fundraiser on September 29, 2018.  With help from our donors and sponsors, the event was a success. Attendees enjoyed good foods, great deserts, and even better refreshments.  Not forgetting to mention good music and good times!

Silent auction items ranged from homemade cobblers to tickets to the Pittsburgh Zoo.  Under a beautiful harvest moon, we celebrated into the night and bid on items we desired.  All proceeds will go towards the hard work being done by all CCJ staff to help preserve our communities integrity and natural splendor.  We hope everyone enjoyed their time as much as we did!


CCJ Speaks Out at DEP and in California Borough

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On Thursday, September 6, 2018, the Center for Coalfield Justice bookended their day by making public statements and public comments on issues related to unconventional oil and gas development.

The day began at an event at the Department of Environmental Protection’s Southwest Regional Office in Pittsburgh, where the Breathe Project organized a press event to draw attention to the Falcon pipeline permits. The Falcon, which would transport natural gas liquids to the Shell Ethane Cracker Plant in Beaver County, PA, is still undergoing review by permit engineer Dana Drake, despite over 101 deficiencies found within the initial draft of the permit. Shell’s responses, as we’ve seen, remain inadequate. Our Campaign Manager, Sarah Maritk, spoke at the event, encouraging the DEP to stop wasting resources to permit this unnecessary infrastructure, saying “Continuing to issue deficiency letter after deficiency letter after deficiency letter to a multi-billion dollar corporation that should know what it’s doing and that has argued that it is capable of constructing and operating this pipeline is an absolute waste of taxpayer funds.” A video of this action is available online through NoPetroPA.

Want to take action and ask the DEP to #DenyTheFalcon? Send a letter via this link!

The day concluded in California Borough, where council members held a second public hearing for a revised draft of their proposed zoning ordinance. CCJ members and supporters spoke out about the lack of protective measures related to setback distances from compressor stations and well pads to protected structures. CCJ staff attorney, Sarah Winner, educated the Borough about the importance of considering Article I, Section 27 (the environmental rights amendment of the Pennsylvania Constitution), while CCJ member and Borough resident reminded the Council that the decisions they make today have real consequences, saying “This isn’t like choosing who gets to play first base in Pony league. If something happens, you are the ones that have to live with it.”

To stay updated for to get involved in the campaign in California Borough, please email Sarah Martik at smartik@coalfieldjustice.org.



Greene County is Updating Comprehensive Plan

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Greene County’s current comprehensive plan will expire in 2020 and the county is in the process of updating it’s comprehensive plan. A Comprehensive plan serves as a document designed to guide the future actions of a community. It presents a vision for the future, with long-range goals and objectives for all activity that affect the local government. Comprehensive plans are critical documents for local government to access funding sources to support the vision of the region.

The county is currently in the planning process and an advisory committee of the Greene County Planning Commission is working to draft the new comprehensive plan. The 50 member advisory committee has been meeting since March to develop the plan that will help define what the county hopes to accomplish over the next 10 years in terms of community and economic development.

The advisory team is hosting a series of open house-type public meetings to share about the process and get input from residents on what should be included in the draft plan. This is your opportunity early in the process to share whether you are concerned about an increase in development in your rural community, a need to have increased access to broadband and cell service, diversifying employment opportunities, or any other visions, hopes you want to see the county work towards.

The public meetings are scheduled as follows:

Tuesday, September 18th from 4 PM to 7 PM

Jefferson Fire Hall

1483 Jefferson Rd

Jefferson, PA 15344

Wednesday, September 19th from 4 PM to 7 PM

Center Township Fire Hall

RR 21 Box 397

Rogersville, PA 15359

Thursday, September 20th from 4 PM to 7 PM

Carmichaels Fire hall

420 W George St

Carmichaels, PA 15320

Tuesday, September 25th from 4 PM to 7 PM

Mon View Park Roller Rink

377 Sr2014

Greensboro, PA 15338

Thursday, September 27th from 4 PM to 7 PM

Franklin Township Municipal Building

568 Rolling Meadows Rd

Waynesburg, PA 15370


This is the beginning of the process to get public input on the comprehensive plan and once the draft plan is complete the county will notice a 45 day public period and potentially a public hearing. If you need assistance getting to any of these meetings or want to make sure concerns are raised in your absence please contact Veronica at veronica@coalfieldjustice.org or call 724-229-3550. CCJ will have a team member at all meetings.

If you want more information on the comprehensive planning process you can contact James Protin Jr with Mackin Engineering Company at jprotin@mackinengineering.com.


Washington County Residents Take Action

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The People’s Climate March held by CCJ and Washington United on September 8th, 2018 in Washington, PA was a success!  Despite the morning forecast for potential floods and an all-day rain, over sixty (60) people attended. The people that attended marched around downtown Washington to express their concerns with the Climate, Jobs, and Justice.  Attendee’s stopped at both the Republican and Democratic Headquarters in hopes to provoke action from local legislators and let all candidates running that whoever wins must work for the people and not corporations.

Professor of Psychology at the California University, Ruben Brock and community members Laurie Maglietta, Briann Moye, Karen LeBlanc, Chris Ward and local children who face impacts all got a chance to voice their issues and motivate others during the March.  


CCJ and Washington United helped guide local community members to plan the March in hopes to build skills and develop leadership with our members.  These community members were included in all processes and planning meetings leading up to the March. We highly appreciate all of their work and effort!  



CCJ is Hiring!

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We are excited to share that CCJ is growing and adding two more people to our staff team. Click the links below for the jobs descriptions for the Community Organizer and Outreach Coordinator. 

Community Organizer 

Outreach Coordinator

To apply for either or both of the positions send a cover letter, resume with three references, and writing sample to Veronica Coptis at veronica@coalfieldjustice.org. 

4th Annual Party in the Park Early Bird Deal!

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We’re ONE MONTH away from our 4th Annual Party in the Park! Join us for a night of fall fun in the name of supporting access to environmental justice across communities in Washington and Greene Counties!

Already know you want tickets? Skip to the end of this blog. Not convinced you want to attend? Keep reading, because we have a lot of good things going on!

Our evening will begin at 6pm with live music performed by The Switch Ups, the same local band who played our event last year. Members Stephen, Zane, and Jacob are an acoustic trio covering hits from the 60s to today - and they accept requests! If you have something you know you’d like to hear, please send the request to Sarah Martik at smartik@coalfieldjustice.org to get it on the list.

As the music plays, you’ll enjoy an all-you-can-eat pasta bar and a sugary dessert station. For guests 21+, the cost of admission includes one alcoholic drink ticket, good for a glass of either beer or wine. Each drink is $5 if you buy them per cup, but you also will have the option to pay for an all-you-can-drink ticket for $20. This option comes with a CCJ Klean Kanteen pint, but if you already have one and don’t want another (although, who wouldn’t want another?!), you can bring your old cup and show your all-you-can-drink ticket.*

After you finish eating, be sure to place your bids on our silent auction items and buy your chances on a 50/50 raffle. Items range from homemade pies (really, homemade: our Campaign Coordinator’s mother makes the pies that day) to an outdoor fire pit (just in time for roasting marshmallows on a fall evening). We’ll wrap up the party at 9pm and have everyone in bed by 10pm-ish or on their way for the rest of the night!

We encourage you to buy tickets in advance, as this helps us plan. With that in mind, we’re offering a registration bonus THIS WEEK ONLY! If you buy your tickets between August 27 - August 31, we’ll give you TWO EXTRA DOOR PRIZE CHANCES! If you purchase your ticket at 12:01am on Saturday, September 1st, no deal. To receive the additional chances, you must purchase your ticket before the end of August!

To purchase tickets, follow this link! Drink tickets/cups will be available at the door only.

To keep up-to-date on details of the event, be sure to follow our FB event page here!

Anyone interested in volunteering for the event (perhaps crafting/decorating with our Campaign Coordinator, selling 50/50 tickets with our Community Organizer, or stoking fires and tending bar with the Spouses of CCJ) should email Sarah Martik at smartik@coalfieldjusice.org, or call her at 724-229-3550x1.

We can’t wait to see you there!

*Please note: everyone will be given admission wristbands that indicate whether you are legally old enough to purchase alcohol, and we’ll enforce this policy strictly.

CCJ is Going to DC

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The Center for Coalfield Justice along with partners from the Alliance for Appalachia are planning a trip to DC to advocate for the RECLAIM Act and Black Lung benefits from September 23rd - 26th, and the trip will include meeting with congressional representatives, networking, and fellowship.

Come join us and travel to Washington, DC with our group of frontline residents working for clean water and healthy communities. The Appalachian region has paid a heavy price for coal industry abuse, from degraded land to our people’s health. Our members hold a strong vision of where we’re heading and have clear goals of how we’re going to get there. We see reclamation as a key component to achieving clean water, while also providing an opportunity to boost development and job creation.

A schedule of events will be announced after registration closes.  We can provide scholarships for up to 10 people from Pennsylvania which include lodging, food, and travel. Register for the trip here.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns please contact Nick at 724-229-3550 extension 104 or nick@coalfieldjustice.org.