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Mountaintop Removal Mining Is Ecological Suicide

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“The negative health effects of living around mountaintop removal mining, from exposure to toxins such as selenium, mercury, arsenic, lead, copper and chromium to the increased incidence of birth defects, pulmonary disorders and hypertension in communities around mine sites, are serious and well documented,” writes Michael Diamond of Vanderbilt University. ”In addition, both workers and innocent bystanders (even those seemingly far enough away) must watch out for flyrock, which is the term used for all the dust and rock stirred up while blasting through mountains. Oftentimes this flyrock can crack and damage homes and property, and occasionally the impact of such debris can be fatal.”

The EPA, which has only recently begun to crack down on this practice, notes that mountaintop removal mining causes an increase of minerals in local water — zinc, sodium, selenium, and sulfate levels may increase and negatively impact fish and macroinvertebrates leading to less diverse and more pollutant-tolerant species. Even though these findings constitute clear violations of the Clean Water Act, the EPA has continued to issue permits for new, bigger mining operations. And fish aren’t the only wildlife to be killed by this ugly practice. Recently Care2′s Judy Molland reported that bears and cubs are being buried alive inside their dens by valley fill.

Why is mountaintop removal still happening? The answer is simple: money. Yes, coal companies and their pocket politicians will tell you that they just can’t bear to eliminate jobs by banning this practice, but that’s just an argument to distract voters from the truth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the early 1950s there were between 125,000 and 145,000 miners employed in West Virginia; in 2004 there were just over 16,000. During that time, coal production increased right alongside unemployment rates. Mountaintop removal is a mining technique designed, from the very start, to take the human labor force out of the mining process. Human beings are expensive, and require time off and benefits. The giant machines involved in mountaintop removal are cheap by comparison, they’ll work 24 hours a day without complaint, and you don’t have to worry about them getting hurt.

Yes, Appalachian families have made their living mining coal for many decades, but that doesn’t mean it’s all they’re capable of. Besides, the coal-bearing counties of Appalachia are some of the poorest in the nation, despite the fact that some of the greatest wealth is being extracted from them. These strong, skilled workers might be poor, but they’re not stupid. In fact many Appalachian residents have become environmental activists in response to the devastating toll they’ve seen mountaintop removal mining take on their health and ancestral lands.

The only ones who benefit from mountaintop removal mining are the out-of-state coal companies that practice it and reap the handsome profits. Even those of use who live far away from Appalachia share in the consequences. The coal produced by mountaintop removal mining is shipped to coal-fired power plants all over the country. Many fail to realize that the electricity they use everyday helps to continue this destructive process. But America is slowly waking up to the realities of mountaintop removal, and several states have moved to ban the use of this coal.

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83 comments

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5:09PM PST on Dec 3, 2012


Eve of Destruction

Earth Cry

7:03AM PDT on Jun 18, 2012

pathetic sold out politicians shilling for coal while the people jockeye for last position with Mississippi. Blankenship should be in jail.

9:27AM PDT on Jun 17, 2012

Teresa, You signed on April 10, 2012.
Your signature has been delivered to:
U.S. Congress

9:24AM PDT on Jun 17, 2012

thank you

2:29PM PDT on Apr 16, 2012

DEMON COAL ; replay on Cbc Radio

CBC.ca | Ideas | Demon Coal, Part 1 & 2
www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2012/03/12/demon-coal-part-1/12 Mar 2012 – Listen to Demon Coal, Part 2 (Broadcast March 19) coal.jpg Coal is ... more to coal. Here are some ideas related to our IDEAS programmes: ...

CBC.ca | Ideas | Demon Coal, Part 2
www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2012/03/19/-demon-coal-part-2/19 Mar 2012 – Demon Coal, Part 2 " />. Accessibility Links. Skip to main content; Skip to CBC accessibility page ... CBC Global Header Navigation ...

7:06PM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

Sadly, the earth won't survive if we keep up this destruction.......

3:58PM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

Beth - I lived in the Knoxville area from 1998 till 2007. I'm sorry to re-inform you, BUT THOSE PEOPLE ARE STUPID! And that's the problem.

Oh yeah, they have progressives and UT and many science buildings and labs, but those aren't the people who own the property you're talking about.
I know Those people.
And they're broke! Any easy money or high-payin' job wit' no beneefeets is jus' fine wit' dem!

And they will sell. They can't believe anyone would do them much harm, not if they're waving an American flag and telling them that doing this will help their nation and make them Patriots!

If these people aren't INTENSELY educated by THEIR OWN KIND about what will happen to their land; this beautiful, intensely magnificent land THAT i OWN 2 ACRES OF, it will fall.

There are simply not enough of us who are educated, aren't broke, that CARE -
to make the difference!
Oh, and look just north of Knoxville; they raped that mountain around Jellico. I drive by it all the time; it's just horrible.

1:45AM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

They wont be happy till the whole world is a desert with nothing living any where , when will we wake up ? !

9:57PM PDT on Apr 12, 2012

Yes, and that seems what those in leadership positions in this country are bent on doing - committing suicide. Trouble is, they'll take all the rest of us with them.

8:08PM PDT on Apr 12, 2012

Too bad that Princess Diana isn't alive to fight this for us! :( They rather die looking for whatever they're looking for inside mines than saving our precious Earth.

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