It’s no secret that Southeast Ohio and other Appalachian communities bordering the Ohio River experience environmental injustices at significantly higher rates than the rest of Ohio. And that the region, bordered by bounty, has played host to a number of extraction-based economics for decades, creating a place where farmlands abound, but fresh food is hard to find within the counties. From the past and present impacts of coal mining to the rapidly expanded oil and gas industry and more, the region has faced the brunt of extractive industries for generations.
These environmental realities create unique problems for Appalachian communities to solve, and they don’t always have adequate legal resources to advocate for themselves. For example, the lack of a law school anywhere near the communities of Southeast Ohio illustrates the lack of legal resources. However, organizations working outside Appalachia often make misinformed assumptions about what Appalachian communities need.
The OEC is honored to bring Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, Sustainable Ohio Public Energy Council, and Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services to the table. Together, we’ll be Exploring Access to Environmental Justice in Appalachia. Each speaker will present the legal and/or institutional resources they provide to the region and their clients.
Then, they’ll collaboratively discuss the barriers, opportunities, and legal needs of Appalachia to achieve environmental justice, with a careful eye toward recognizing the parties not at the table or in the audience. There will be time for Q&A for the audience, and the event will close with a brief discussion on what actions audience members can take to combat environmental injustices in Appalachia.