Mountaintop removal country’s mental health crisis. … The mind fights the body and the body fights the land. It wants our bodies, the landscape does, and everyone runs the risk of being swallowed up. Can we love nature for what it really is: predatory? We do not walk through a passive landscape. The paint dries eventually. Decompose eventually. Siken, War of the Foxes I called Kathy Selvage because someone had told me she could explain what it was like to lose a mountain. Mountaintop removal, it’s called; a type of surface mining. It is no secret that times are tough in coal country. I. Selvage knows about the intimacy of the mountains because she has spent a life living in their shadows. Before our conversation, Selvage sends me a photograph of herself in which she’s standing in front of a No Trespassing sign. Homeplace; one word. There are two things that come up in nearly every conversation I have with people from or familiar with mountaintop removal towns.
“The homeplace where I grew up is under all that rubble.” II. It gets worse. Mountaintop removal mining is flattening Appalachia. Researchers have quantified the topographical footprint of 40 years of mountaintop removal on the Appalachian landscape, and the results are, ahem, flat-out depressing. The science now confirms what we already knew: Blasting the tops off of mountains to mine their coal-filled bowels is just as destructive as it sounds. According to a new study from Duke University, some parts of Appalachia are now 40 percent flatter than they were before, thanks to humanity’s scramble for coal. And in southern West Virginia, the volume of bedrock that coal companies have removed — 1.5 cubic miles — would bury Manhattan. After removal, that rock was dumped into nearby valleys and headwaters, where it leached heavy metals and other toxins into the waterways. ThinkProgress points out that pollution and obstruction from mining operations can persist for decades, impacting all walks (and swims) of life.
The study found that the practice has lowered the median slope of affected mountains by 10 degrees. In Appalachia, the coal industry is in collapse, but the mountains aren’t coming back. In Appalachia, explosions have leveled the mountaintops into perfect race tracks for Ryan Hensley’s all-terrain vehicle (ATV). At least, that’s how the 14-year-old sees the barren expanses of dirt that stretch for miles atop the hills surrounding his home in the former coal town of Whitesville, W.Va.
“They’re going to blast that one next,” he says, pointing to a peak in the distance. He’s referring to a process known as “mountaintop removal,” in which coal companies use explosives to blast away hundreds of feet of rock in order to unearth underground seams of coal. “And then it’ll be just blank space,” he adds. Skinny and shirtless, Hensley looks no more than 11 or 12. We continue picking our way along a path on topless Kayford “Mountain,” a few miles from Hensley’s hometown (population 514, according to the 2010 census), as he resumes chronicling his adventures on ATVs.
But Hensley knows better. The king is dead In August, the inevitable occurred. The mountains at the center of the world. Pass the ACHE Act and end mountaintop removal mining. The coal industry is waging a war on Appalachia, detonating millions of pounds of diesel fuel and explosives daily to rip the top off of mountains and access seams of coal contained within. Dozens of peer reviewed studies have documented the devastation mountaintop removal mining is wreaking on communities in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee in the form of elevated rates of birth defects and cancer rates nearly triple the national average.
Stunning new research also shows a direct connection between the dust from mountaintop removal mining and lung cancer.1 It is time for Congress to intervene by passing the Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act (ACHE Act), which would place an immediate moratorium on new mountaintop removal mining permits.2 Sign the petition: Pass the ACHE Act and end mountaintop removal mining now. Mountaintop removal is the deadliest and most destructive form of coal mining there is. 1. Another court victory for EPA — this time on mountaintop-removal rules. Blowing up mountains so that their coal-filled bellies can be stripped of their climate-changing innards doesn’t just ruin Southern Appalachian forests.
It also poisons the region’s streams, as fragments of rock and soil previously known as mountaintops get dumped into valleys. A government-led study published two weeks ago concluded that this pollution is poisoning waterways, leading to “fewer species, lower abundances, and less biomass.” Concern about just this kind of water pollution is why the EPA stepped in five years ago using its Clean Water Act mandate to boost environmental oversight of mountaintop-removal mining, creating a joint review process with the Army Corps of Engineers to help that agency assess mining proposals under the Mining Control and Reclamation Act. The EPA can’t really do anything these days without the attorneys of polluters and the states that they pollute crying foul in court about “agency overreach.” China Bulldozing Hundreds Of Mountains To Expand Cities.
By Ari Phillips "China Bulldozing Hundreds Of Mountains To Expand Cities" CREDIT: flickr/ilya China is just about the same size as the United States, but livable land is in short supply. With the population and economy still growing at a rapid clip, the government has undertaken a plan to bulldoze hundreds of mountains to create land for building on. In a paper published in journal Nature this week, three researchers from Chang’an University in China warn that the scores of mountains already being truncated is leading to air and water pollution, erosion, and flooding.
With unprecedented plans to remove over 700 mountains and fill valleys with the debris, they warn that “there has been too little modelling of the costs and benefits of land creation. Totaling several hundred square miles of newly flattened land, mountaintop removal has never been carried out at this scale, warn the authors, not even in strip mining operations common in the United States. Another Mountaintop Removal Company Goes Bankrupt. Written by Amanda Starbuck Big news this week in the coal industry: Patriot Coal, the third-largest Mountaintop Removal (MTR) coal mining company, is filing for bankruptcy.
Bank of America is among the banks providing bankruptcy filing services for Patriot. This is a real opportunity for BofA to use its influence and environmental ambition to work with Patriot and forward-thinking politicians like West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller to close and clean up those MTR mines and transition the Appalachia region into a producer of clean, renewable energy. Patriot joins Massey and ICG on the roster of large MTR producers who have fallen into trouble in recent years (Massey and ICG were bought-out by Alpha Natural Resources and Arch Coal, respectively). Selenium is a toxic element that causes reproductive failure and deformities in fish and other forms of aquatic life.
The sad story of Patriot reinforces the bold speech by West Virginia’s Senator Rockefeller last month. Related Stories: Magnolia Mountain - The Hand of Man - YouTube#at=316#! New Folk Music Video On Impact of Mountain Top Removal. Written by Stephen Lacey, Climate Progress The Ohio-based folk band Magnolia Mountain has just released a new music video documenting the environmental and human impact of mountaintop removal coal mining. The song, “The Hand of Man,” was released as part of a new 21-track album with bands from Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia performing songs about protecting the Appalachian Mountains and surrounding communities from destructive coal mining practices. Mountaintop removal mining is exactly what it sounds like: Explosives are used to to blow up mountains in order to access coal reserves, thus forcing rocks and soil into valleys and increasing concentrations of mercury and arsenic in water supplies.
According to researchers from Washington State University and West Virginia University, communities located near mountaintop mining sites have seen double the amount of birth defects than the national rate. Watch the music video: Related Stories: Two-Headed Baby Trout Found Near Idaho Mine. Two Activists Speak Out Against Mountaintop Removal Mining. This post is courtesy of our friends at Earthjustice.
Part of what makes this nation so great are its mountains, those “purple mountain majesties” and the uniquely American history embedded in those slopes and valleys. As part of honoring America’s mountains, Iraq war veteran Jonathan Gensler, a former officer and native of West Virginia, speaks out against mountaintop removal mining and reconnects the history of America to its mountains, saying: The battlefield at Blair, spread across the ridgelines slated for destruction, is the site of the momentous coal miner uprising that launched our nation’s workers’ rights movement and remains the largest violent uprising in our nation’s history since the Civil War.
The importance of this site goes far beyond Logan County and is pivotal in understanding and remembering the struggles of our forefathers to give working men and women basic rights — a history the coal industry would also like us to forget. Related Stories: Victory! Court hands EPA a victory in fight against mountaintop-removal mining. Score one for the EPA — and everyone else who doesn’t like the idea of a coal company blasting the tops off mountains and dumping the waste into streams. From The Wall Street Journal: The Environmental Protection Agency won an important legal victory Tuesday in a long-brewing battle with Arch Coal Inc. over a coal mining project in West Virginia known as Spruce No. 1.The case tests whether the EPA can revoke a permit for the controversial practice known as mountaintop mining after another federal agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has already approved it. The D.C. The ruling is “is likely to set off considerable political backlash from industry, some utilities and their congressional allies who have long contended that the EPA’s regulatory efforts are killing the coal sector,” reports the L.A.
Coal-loving Rep. The Spruce No. 1 case isn’t resolved yet; it’s been sent back to a lower court for consideration of other issues.