The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia
8 Decent Work and Economic Growth

8 Decent Work and Economic Growth (4)

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

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Ask your representatives to support the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act!

Coal miners in Appalachia are getting black lung disease at record rates, even as the amount of coal being mined is declining. It’s past time to make sure they get the care they need.

Because they can no longer work, coal miners who get the disease are promised certain benefits, like health care and a living stipend. But current laws and processes make it incredibly challenging for miners and their families to access those benefits. And the current benefit levels are not even sufficient to support the miners who are out of work because of their illness. 

Pennsylvania Congressman Matt Cartwright and Senator Bob Casey have introduced a bill to make it easier for miners with black lung to access vital healthcare and financial support. Importantly, the bill would also tie benefit levels to inflation. With inflation rising, benefit levels are increasingly inadequate, and this change is needed urgently.

Ask your representatives to support the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act!

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IMG 3713Spark CleanTech Accelerator participants join Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon during an Aug. 31 awards ceremony. Ben Pounds/Hellbender Press

Knoxville celebrates sustainable technology startups from across the country

KNOXVILLE — Leaders of start-up green businesses specializing in services and products ranging from carbon reduction to cleaning products and piping wrapped up some warp-speed lessons Aug. 31.

At the conclusion of the three-month Spark CleanTech Accelerator the leaders of environmentally sustainable businesses from across the country took home some awards and got a strategic pep talk from Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon.

“I’m very committed to all things green and sustainable,” she said. “Orange and green are complementary colors." She spoke of making Knoxville a “clean tech hub,” not just for Tennessee but internationally. She envisioned “a cleaner Knoxville and a cleaner world.”

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An empty Circle Park as trees bloom on April 02, 2020. Photo by Steven Bridges/University of TennesseeAn empty Circle Park is seen in April. The park is adjacent to the UT School of Journalism and Electronic Media. Steven Bridges/University of Tennessee

Everybody has a story about the natural environment. Look around, and into yourself.

University of Tennessee journalism professor Mark Littmann asks students in his environmental writing class every semester to write short sketches about environmental issues they may observe during any given day. Such an assignment requires an almost poetical approach. Here's a sampling from spring semester.

A reef of bones

Huge schools of rainbow-colored fish weave through the brightly colored corals as Sir David Attenborough describes a day in the life of a fish on the television screen. A little girl is mesmerized; this is no Disney fantasy but real life. The nature shows on Animal Planet capture her imagination and soon mornings and afternoons are spent watching big cats and meerkats navigate the wild spaces they call home. She finds an instant favorite in the book “The Rainbow Fish” and celebrates turning four with a sparkly rainbow fish cake, hand decorated with sprees for rainbow scales. She insists someday she will swim among the fish in their magical undersea world. 

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This story from ProPublica is shared via Hellbender Press under a Creative Commons license. Click here for the entire ProPublica story, including illustrations and photos. 

By Max Blau for Georgia Health News

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

Series: Sunken CostsCoal Ash in Georgia

Mark Berry raised his right hand, pledging to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The bespectacled mechanical engineer took his seat inside the cherry-wood witness stand. He pulled his microphone close to his yellow bow tie and glanced left toward five of Georgia’s most influential elected officials. As one of Georgia Power’s top environmental lobbyists, Berry had a clear mission on that rainy day in April 2019: Convince those five energy regulators that the company’s customers should foot the bill for one of the most expensive toxic waste cleanup efforts in state history.