Appalachian Voices  [Printer-friendly version]
October 29, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: One of the greatest environmental and human
rights catastrophes in American history is underway just southwest of
our nation's capital.]

One of the greatest environmental and human rights catastrophes in
American history is underway just southwest of our nation's capital.

In the coalfields of Appalachia, individuals, families and entire
communities are being driven off their land by flooding, landslides
and blasting resulting from mountaintop removal coal mining.

Mountaintop removal is a relatively new type of coal mining that began
in Appalachia in the 1970s as an extension of conventional strip
mining techniques. Primarily, mountaintop removal is occurring in
West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. Coal companies in
Appalachia are increasingly using this method because it allows for
almost complete recovery of coal seams while reducing the number of
workers required to a fraction of what conventional methods require.

Mountaintop removal involves clear cutting native hardwood forests,
using dynamite to blast away as much as 800-1000 feet of mountaintop,
and then dumping the waste into nearby valleys, often burying streams.

While the environmental devastation caused by this practice is
obvious, families and communities near these mining sites are forced
to contend with continual blasting from mining operations that can
take place up to 300 feet from their homes and operate 24 hours a day.

Families and communities near mining sites also suffer from airborne
dust and debris, floods that have left hundreds dead and thousands
homeless, and contamination of their drinking water supplies.

In central Appalachian counties, which are among the poorest in the
nation, homes are frequently the only asset folks have. Mining
operations have damaged hundreds of homes beyond repair and the value
of homes near a mountaintop removal sites often decrease by as much as

Worst of all, mountaintop removal is threatening not just the people,
forest and mountaints of central Appalachia, but the very culture of
the region. Coal companies frequently claim that mountaintop removal
is beneficial for the people, economy and the environment, but the
facts just don't hold up.

Appalachian Voices is helping to end the practice of mountaintop
removal coal mining by working with community organizations in
coalfields, and organizing a national educational campaign to end
the destructive practice of mountain top removal coal mining by
gaining support for the Clean Water Protection Act. As part of this
campaign, we are traveling to communities to share Appalachian
Treasures, a multi-media slide show presentation that depicts the
dire situation in Appalachian coalfields and encouraging Americans to
help protect Appalachian communities and some of our nation's oldest

Appalachian Voices is also working to compile scientific, socio-
economic and geographic information on the effects and extent of
mountaintop removal and a host of other resources such as a photo
gallery of mountaintop removal and the Appalachian mountains and
information on where coal from mountaintop removal operations is

Click the links below to view other mountaintop removal resources
available from Appalachian Voices:

Appalachian Voices Mountaintop Removal Homepage

What Is Mountaintop Removal and Who Regulates It?

The Geography of Mountaintop Removal

Mountaintop Removal Photo Gallery

Myths and Facts About Mountaintop Removal

How Does Mountaintop Removal Affect the Environment?

How Does Mountaintop Removal Affect the Economy?

Where is Coal from Mountaintop Removal Consumed?

The Clean Water Protection Act: a Bill to Curtail Mountaintop

Appalachian Treasures: a National Campaign to End Mountaintop

Mountaintop Removal Site Tour #1: Sundial, West Virginia

Copyright Appalachian Voices, 1999-2006