A native to Pound, Virginia, a small town on the Virginia-Kentucky border, Mary Cromer received her JD from Washington & Lee University School of Law. After law school, Mary clerked for the Honorable Glen Conrad of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia and worked as an Associate Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. Since 2008, Mary has worked as a Staff Attorney for the Appalachian Citizens' Law Center (ACLC), a small non-profit law firm dedicated to protecting coalfield communities and the environment from destructive coal mining practices in Central Appalachia. Situated in the middle of the coalfields in Whitesburg, Kentucky, ACLC is uniquely positioned to work with both national environmental groups and local coal miners and their families on a range of often sensitive environmental and public health issues related to coal mining. Throughout her time with ACLC, Mary has litigated a variety of cases, from representing individuals and families who have lost their well water supplies because of nearby coal mining to fighting pollution from coal mining under national environmental laws.
Over the years, ACLC has worked with Sierra Club and other allies to end mountaintop removal coal mining and the devastating process of dumping mining waste and debris into waterways in Central Appalachia. ACLC has also worked with the Club to push for more protective permitting and enforcement practices related to mountaintop removal coal mining, at both the state and federal level.
Currently, Mary is representing Sierra Club and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth in a challenge to Kentucky's permitting of a large mountaintop removal coal mine just upstream from one of the state's best rafting destinations. The Russell Fork River near Elkhorn City includes class V whitewater and beautiful flatwater rafting areas. Tourism is the best, sustainable hope for the area, and pollution from the massive coal mine would threaten the industry by contaminating the beloved river and harming aquatic life. Mary is challenging the state's inadequate analysis of the cumulative impacts of mining on the Russell Fork River and its tributaries. If successful, the case could change the way Kentucky handles its mine permitting.
This year, the Appalachian Citizens' Law Center is celebrating its tenth anniversary.