During the last two decades, mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia has destroyed or severely damaged more than a million acres of forest and buried nearly 2,000 miles of streams.
What is mountain top removal (MTR)? Here’s how it works:
1. Forests are clear-cut, destroying vegetation and wildlife habitat. Next, explosives up to 100 times as strong as ones that tore open the Oklahoma City Federal building blast up to 800 feet off mountaintops.
2. Huge shovels dig into the soil and trucks haul it away or push it into adjacent valleys.
3. A dragline dips into the rock to expose the coal – machines weigh up to 8 million pounds, and are as tall as a 20-story building. They allow coal companies to hire fewer workers.
4. Giant machines scoop out the layers of coal, dumping millions of tons of “overburden” into narrow adjacent valleys, and filling them up.
5. Coal companies are supposed to reclaim the land, but often mine sites are left stripped and bare.
Bulldozer Traps Mother Bear And Cubs Inside Den
And now, in addition to all the horrific destruction of mountain tops, we are learning of bulldozers blazing right over the entrance of a bear’s den and burying a mother bear and her cubs alive.
In the place of expansive, untouched landscape, you now see a barren wasteland. You can hear the desperate cries of a mother bear who knows that she and her cubs are doomed.
This heartbreaking account came from a woodsman who witnessed the tragic bulldozing in his own backyard. It exemplifies the reality for black bears in the Appalachian mountains.
Peer-reviewed studies show that mountaintop mining has serious environmental impacts, including loss of biodiversity, that mitigation practices cannot successfully address. There are also adverse human health impacts which result from contact with affected streams or exposure to airborne toxins and dust.
Now it’s clear the effects are even worse than we imagined. In addition to hurting bears, the bulldozing and explosions involved in MTR destroy flying squirrel, salamander, mussel and other native animal habitats.
MTR Is A Destructive And Unsustainable Practice, For The Benefit Of Corporations
MTR is a destructive and unsustainable practice that benefits a small number of corporations at the expense of local communities and the environment. There is the physical alteration of the landscape, the damage done to the environment by massive transport trucks, and the environmental damage done by the burning of coal for power.
Blasting at MTR sites also expels dust and fly-rock into the air, which can disturb or settle onto private property nearby. This dust may contain sulfur compounds, which corrodes structures and is a health hazard.
Take Action Now!
With wildlife being destroyed as a result of MTR, please sign our petition to convince Congress to ban MTR and to enforce legal requirements for coal mining in Appalachia.
Photo Credit: istock