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Myths and Facts April 01, 2005 5:38 AM

Myths and Facts

Myth:Mountaintop removal mining provides jobs.Fact:As more coal is produced in mountaintop removal strip mining, the number of coal mine workers decreases. Although coal production rose 32 percent between 1987 and 1997, mining jobs dropped 29 percent during the same period.
Source: Citizens Coal Council;   Myth:Mountaintop removal mining improves local economies.Fact:The top 15 coal producing counties in West Virginia suffer from some of the worst poverty levels in the nation, even though they produce 15% of the nation's coal.
Source: United States Census Bureau; West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training Fact:In 1998, tourism pumped far more money into the West Virginia economy than the coal industry.
Source: Citizens Coal Council; Fact:Coal companies force people living near the mines to sell their homes and leave. Whole communities, such as Blair, West Virginia, have been wiped out.
Source: Source: Citizens Coal Council; Fact:Coal Production and Poverty Rate in West Virginia (2001)
Drag your mouse over link to see graph.   Myth:A ban on mountaintop removal mining in West Virginia would be detrimental to coal companies.Fact:A ban on mountaintop removal mining with large valley fills would reduce West Virginia's annual coal production by only about 10%.
Source: Source: Ken Ward, Jr.; "Mountaintop mining ban would cut coal production 10 percent"; July 23, 1999; West Virginia Post-Gazette; available:   Myth:Mountaintop removal mining does not harm the environment; rather it maintains or improves the quality of local ecosystemsFact:In just the last decade, mountaintop removal has obliterated the natural beauty that took millions of years to form. Mines in West Virginia alone have buried over 1,000 miles of streams and cut down over 300,000 acres of hardwood forests.
Source: Source: Citizens Coal Council; Fact:The natural return of forests to mountaintop mines reclaimed with grasses under hay and pasture or wildlife post-mining land uses occurs very slowly. Full reforestation across a large mine site in such cases may not occur for hundreds of years.
Source: Earth Crash Earth Spirit; Fact:West Virginia's Coal River was named one of the country's ten most endangered rivers in 1999 and 2000 because of the environmental danger posed by mountaintop removal and valley fills.
Source: West Virginia Rivers Coalition;   Myth:All surface-mined land today is reclaimed equal to or better than it was prior to mining. Fact:The Appalachian Highlands is characterized by some of the best forest habitat in the world. Current reclamation practices are converting these forests into grasslands, which may significantly impact neotropical bird populations and other sensitive species if left unchanged.
Source: Source: Trial Lawyers for Public Justice; Fact:In the original mining permit application, companies are required to include specific details which demonstrate that the land can and will be put to some productive use, such as recreational, commercial, agricultural, etc. Curiously, a number of mountaintop removal permits have been approved which included no specific details about post-mining land use.
Source:   Myth:West Virginia needs more flat land for development purposes.Fact:Over 300,000 acres of West Virginia have received surface mine permits. At the present rate of development, this is enough developable land to last 3,000 years.
Source: Dennis Burke Fact:In the Coal River Basin area alone, there is 95,000 acres of flat land 600-800 feet above the infrastructure, enough to build:
  • 10 - 100 acre prisons
  • 5 - 5,000 acre parks
  • 50 - shopping malls
  • 400 - 50 acre schools
  • 100 - 100 acre trailer parks

Source: Dennis Burke   Myth:Coal companies do all they can to reduce the negative impact mountaintop mining has on the environment.Fact:Reclamation is usually done late in the mining process for ease of operation. In order to reduce the size of valley fills and reduce reclamation costs, coal companies should reclaim the land contemporaneously with mining.
Source: Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition; Fact:Valley fills are built from the top down. If valley fills are constructed from the bottom up, they will shrink in size due to leveling and compaction.
Source: Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition;   Myth:The 2002 revision to the C  [ send green star]
 April 02, 2005 3:42 PM

This is great information, Emily.  I definately learned some basic facts I wasn't aware of.  This group is an important tool for educating people.  Thanks!

 [ send green star]  [ accepted]

 April 03, 2005 6:02 PM

Thank you for reading Tom!  [ send green star]
 April 03, 2005 6:23 PM

My word I had no idea all the devastation caused by this practice. Thank you for the education. This is a very worthy cause I think.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 April 03, 2005 6:53 PM

Isn't it amazing. They trick and lie. What they will go to for power is just has me dumb struck. A little boy DIED because of this, and they shelled out 15,000$ and kept on going. This has to stop! This will not go on, not over my dead body!

I know its kind of a long article, but its well worth the read (I have read it many times just for it to soke in) but this is a great overview

 [ send green star]
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Mountain Top Removal, A Call to Action
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