Mission, Vision & Accomplishments

Mission
Appalachian Research Initiative for Environmental Science (ARIES) addresses the environmental impacts of the discovery, development, production, and use of energy resources in Appalachia.

Vision
Appalachian Research Initiative for Environmental Science (ARIES) manages and stewards an 8 to 14 university research consortium from Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky to support independent transdisciplinary research in
• Stream protection and restoration in Appalachia
• Materials characterization and handling
• Environmental impacts and mitigation of energy production in Appalachia
• Community health well-being in energy production areas in Appalachia
The Appalachian Research Initiative for Environmental Science coordinates research collaboration, research dissemination, and next generation research and researchers on the environmental impacts of energy resources and production in Appalachia. ARIES fills research gaps, bridges stakeholders, builds opportunity for civil, moderate discourse, and focuses on practical environmental solutions responsive to the current situation on the ground in Appalachia and responsive to changes as those develop.
Accomplishments
In its first five years the Appalachian Research Initiative for Environmental Science has supported 75+ researchers in thirty different departments and more than 90 student researchers and produced more than 90 peer-reviewed publications.
ARIES has disseminated research through one symposium, one four day conference, press releases, press outreach, and two collections of proceedings: http://www.amazon.com/Environmental-Considerations-Energy-Production-Craynon/dp/0873353803  and http://www.proceedings.com/27722.html.
ARIES has created a well-functioning collaboration among many universities and researchers unique to the region. It has built a solid foundation for a transdisciplinary approach to environmental concerns. It has mitigated environmental intervention and provided research upon which to develop concrete in-the-field responses to regulatory compliance.

ARIES has created the possibility for proactive environmental response in this heavily energy production region and the possibility of researcher flexibility and responsiveness to local needs and change.

ARIES‘ stream protection and restoration project provides concrete scientific response to improve environmental protection of water resources in Appalachia for both human and animal use. It provides information in aquatic health for conditions both currently regulated and those that may be regulated and new indicators for the potential for aquatic system resilience.

The materials characterization and handling provides science-based management indicators and processes for managing energy production waste and for its long-term monitoring. This, in turn, provides opportunity for state, local, and industrial policy and procedures toward better environmental protection.

The environmental impacts of surface and underground coal mining provides scientific evidence for the extended management of the environment at the sites of current or former energy production, including procedures for managing discharge and dust as well as surface impacts.

Under ARIES, the impact on state budgets with respect to energy production has been assessed, which in turn assists legislators and policy-makers in the development of state budgets and taxation. Moreover, the ARIES research made specific suggestions for road improvement in regions with high energy production. Additionally, the actual economic benefits and concerns from energy production were assessed by ARIES, with considerations regarding the impact of higher wage earnings on the local economy and on health.

The health data analysis, the medical review, and the energy production and birth defect and neonatal health studies refined public health statistics regarding the impacts of energy production and alerted public health officials and researchers of additional factors to consider in public health outreach, and, of issues which may confound public health assessments of energy production communities, such as incidence of smoking, and issues of hinterland geography and access to health screening.

The water-borne contamination and the health in mining communities projects pointed to additional issues of water concern in energy production communities, such as waste sewage not being treated in those communities and being directly piped into local rivers and streams. The ARIES project described the high risk to human and aquatic health due to this.