Repairing the Damage from the Fossil Fuel Industry

For more than 150 years, Appalachia has provided the cheap energy that has powered the nation’s industrial growth and helped construct the middle class. But Appalachian communities have not fueled our nation’s prosperity without a cost—thousands of environmental hazards, remnants of our region’s legacy of extractive industries, burden our land. Abandoned mine lands, orphaned oil and gas wells, and coal ash disposal sites deter development, hurt ecosystems, contribute to the climate crisis, and threaten the health and safety of nearby people. 

Cleaning up these hazardous sites presents a huge economic opportunity for the region. Developing pathways to address the environmental and public health issues of abandoned mine lands and orphan wells would create more than 30,000 well-paying, local jobs, stemming climate change, protecting our communities, and ensuring the health of future generations to come.

Abandoned Mine Lands

Appalachia is home to thousands of Abandoned Mine Land (AML) sites that threaten nearby residents, deter development, harm ecosystems, and emit climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Cleaning up these wells is an environmental and public health necessity. If federal funding is allocated effectively, it could also be a huge economic opportunity for our region.

Abandoned Oil & Gas Wells


Hundreds of thousands of orphan oil and gas wells across the Ohio River Valley region threaten communities and the environment with harmful air and water pollution and climate-warming emissions. Federally funded programs to clean up these environmental liabilities could create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs each year, research shows.

Coal Ash

Coal-fired power plants leave behind hazardous coal ash, one of the largest waste streams in the US. There are more than 160 coal ash disposal sites in the Ohio Valley. Many of these toxic sites are located along major rivers, posing serious risks to public health and the environment. 


Cleaning Up the Land, Air, and Water Damaged by the Coal Industry Before 1977

Cleaning up Appalachia’s thousands of acres of abandoned mine lands could create jobs, reduce climate-warming emissions, improve quality of life, and minimize environmental damage.

Cleaning Up Hazardous Coal Ash Can Create Jobs and Improve the Environment

Cleaning up hazardous coal ash sites in the Ohio Valley can alleviate environmental and public health threats and create jobs.

 All research on Repairing the Damage:

2023 in Review

2023 in Review

Together, a more prosperous, sustainable, and equitable Appalachia is possible. That’s the vision that has geared our data-driven research, guided our outreach and campaigns, and grounded our work in the region’s community and culture ever since the Ohio River Valley...

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Federal Orphan Well Funding, Explained

Federal Orphan Well Funding, Explained

  At the end of January, the Biden administration and the US Department of Interior (DOI) announced the first round of $1.15 billion in funding from a new federal orphaned well program to plug, remediate, and reclaim oil and gas wells. As part of the 2021...

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