"Ann Foster’s allergies have taken her over many a mountain in search of a cure. Foster lives in rural Highland County, where there is no hospital, no practicing physician, not even a pharmacy. To see a pulmonary specialist, Foster recently had to drive to Harrisonburg, a three-hour round trip on winding country roads. 'It shoots a day by the time you travel over the mountains,' Foster said. Highland County is part of the most medically underserved region in Virginia — and the worst-case example of what could be a looming statewide crunch."
"Governors of eight Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states will announce on Monday a push to force Midwestern and Appalachian states to cut air pollution they say is causing their citizens respiratory diseases and public health problems. The governors will petition the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require nine states — Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia — to reduce emissions. The eight downwind states say they have spent billions to reduce their own air pollution, but that pollution from elsewhere still overwhelms their environments."
"People in Eastern Kentucky are used to the ups and downs of a coal-based economy. Prices plummet. Production slows down. Coal miners get laid off. Several months later, prices rise. The phone rings. Miners pick up their helmets and go back to work. We're in one of those slumps now—but, this time, things are different. In the hardest-hit counties, the bumpers of heavy-duty Ford pickup trucks still host Friends of Coal license plates, next to stickers telling other drivers that coal keeps the lights on. But the winding mountain roads are a little quieter.'
" The Appalachian region is a land of contrast — people have suffered from poverty for decades, but the region abounds with natural resources. Appalachian forests support some of the greatest biological diversity in the world's temperate region, but extraction of the region's abundant coal reserves has impacted the landscape. There are about 1.5 million acres of surface-mined land in Appalachia that could benefit from reforestation; more than 400,000 acres of that is located in Eastern Kentucky."
"The past is mother to the present, but the future is limited only by what we can imagine. The summit on the future of Eastern Kentucky that will convene tomorrow in Pikeville is the latest in a long line of conferences designed to address the economic problems of Appalachia. For over half a century, well-intentioned leaders have gathered to discuss the region's deficiencies and to promise action. Such meetings preceded the War on Poverty and the passage of the Appalachian Regional Development Act in the 1960s and the short-lived Kentucky Appalachian Commission in the 1990s. Sadly, the inequalities that generated these efforts seem to have persisted as well, perhaps because we have not learned from the successes and failures of earlier strategies or we have been unwilling to address the underlying problems themselves."