Matt Wasson

Matt Wasson is an ecologist and the director of programs for Appalachian Voices where he oversees the award-winning online campaign to stop mountaintop-removal coal mining on

Who Owns West Virginia’s Water? A Cautionary Tale

It took a few days after a state of emergency was declared across nine West Virginia counties and one-sixth of the state’s population was told not to drink or bathe using their tap water for the national news media to discover there is a story of national importance occurring in the political backwaters of Appalachia. But most haven’t yet picked up on what may be the most interesting and important part of the story: why so many people in this water-rich state depend on a single, privately owned treatment system and distribution network that sprawls across nine counties for their …

WATCH: Appalachian Kids Give Science Lesson to President Obama

Children in Appalachian coal mining communities are 42% more likely to be born with birth defects and have a life expectancy that is almost 5 years lower than the national average. As this short video shows, they understand why: Dozens of scientific studies have linked mountaintop removal coal mining to high rates of cancer and other diseases in nearby communities. But as these children explain, you don’t need to be a scientist to understand the devastating impact that mountaintop removal has on the health and quality of life of people living nearby. Thanks to thousands of people who have spoken …


Electoral math for ‘all you climate people’

Building a climate movement in urban areas isn't enough. We also need a ground game in the remote corners of swing states where national elections are won and lost.

WATCH: Happy Birthday Clean Water Act!

On October 18th, 1972, the Clean Water Act was passed by Congress on an overwhelming bipartisan vote. Now, forty years later, our rivers, lakes and bays are in far better condition and nobody is yearning for the days when the Cuyahoga River repeatedly caught on fire and Lake Erie was pronounced “dead.” Yet, it’s hard not to feel some nostalgia for an era when such a sweeping piece of legislation, which was viciously opposed by big polluting industries, could pass the House of Representatives on a vote of 366-11. The early 1970s were a time when politicians of both parties …

Big Coal Wins Latest Battle to Blast Historic Blair Mountain

Is nothing sacred to coal companies in Appalachia? In a jaw-dropping display of contempt and disregard for the communities and landscapes where they mine coal, three coal companies back in 2009 challenged the listing of West Virginia’s Blair Mountain on the National Register of Historic Places. The companies, including mining behemoths Alpha Natural Resources and Arch Coal, opposed the listing of Blair Mountain as a historic site because it could interfere with their plans to conduct mountaintop removal mining operations on the Spruce Fork Ridge battlefield, site of the “largest organized armed uprising in American labor history,” and the most …

Obama administration can still protect streams from mountaintop-removal mining, despite setback in D.C. court

Environmental and community advocates got some jarring news Tuesday when a federal judge rejected EPA’s “guidance” on surface mine permitting in Appalachia — the centerpiece of its three-year effort to curtail the environmental damage caused by mountaintop-removal coal mining. While it was unwelcome news, it was not as devastating as portrayed in the initial round of news stories, which appeared to be heavily influenced by the coal industry’s false narrative about an “out-of-control” EPA issuing regulations willy-nilly while going out of its way to trample on the Constitution and kill jobs. In fact, the court objected to the procedural approach EPA …


Kentucky coal companies remind us why we really, really need the EPA

The latest episode in the saga known as Big Coal's Watergate began Tuesday when environmental and citizen groups filed a second notice of intent to sue the two largest mountaintop-removal mining companies in Kentucky.


Labor and enviros join up in W.Va. to fight mountaintop coal mining

For the first time in years, mining unions are finding common cause with advocates who are seeking to end mountaintop-removal coal mining.

Nasty, Brutish, and Short

Life under the leadership of budget axe-man Hal Rogers

In case you haven’t heard, dozens of proposed amendments to the House Budget Bill would strip EPA of funding to update and enforce safeguards for mountaintop-removal mines, coal ash storage ponds, and emissions of hazardous air pollutants from coal-fired power plants. If these amendments are approved, House Republicans would successfully turn back the clock on all of the clean air and clean water safeguards put in place over the past two years and bring back the polluter-friendly rules of the Bush administration. Photo: Appalachian VoicesThe man overseeing the budget is Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, whose district is home to …

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