Appalachian Voices, 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 90%.

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 mountains.

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 consumed.

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 Removal

Mountaintop Removal Site Tour #1: Sundial, West Virginia

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