Earlier this week the EPA announced a new water quality standard that could spell the beginning of the end for the destructive practice of mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining.
Referred to as one of the most environmentally-destructive practices of our time, mountaintop removal is a radical form of coal mining where entire mountains are literally blown up and then pushed into the valleys and streams below.
Just 24 hours before the EPA’s announcement, a massive explosion ripped through the Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia on Monday, killing 25 miners and leaving 6 others missing and presumed dead. The mine was owned by the infamous Massey Energy, a company has been fined over $400,000 for saftey violations that allowed flammable gas and coal dust to build up inside the mine — this year alone. Investigators suspect that just such a buildup caused the blast.
There’s no denying that MTR is a dirty, dangerous business that encourages our addiction to fossil fuels, speeds the destruction of precious ecosystems, and puts human lives in danger every day.
For those that live outside Appalachia, MTR can seem like a distant problem, worthy of hand-wringing and petition-signing, but little else in the way of action.
Thanks to a new online tool recently released by ilovemountains.org, however, innocence by way of geography isn’t going to get Americans off the hook so easily in the future.
If your home or business uses electricity, there’s a good chance you are connected to mountaintop removal in the Appalachian Mountains, plain and simple. Just by entering your zip code, the “What’s My Connection?” tool will show you how you’re contributing to the problem and what you can do about it.
Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons - unanimousgraphics
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