Mountaintop Removal Mining
Mountaintop removal mining (MTR) is a radical form of coal mining in which entire mountains are blown apart to access coal. It began in the 1970’s when increased demand for coal in the United States, sparked by the 1973 and 1979 petroleum crises, created incentives for a more economical form of coal mining.
MTR expanded further in the 1990’s to retrieve relatively low-sulfur coal which became desirable as a result of amendments to the U.S. Clean Air Act. These regulations tightened emissions limits on more polluting high-sulfur coal processing.
MTR has devastated over one million acres of Appalachia, polluting headwater streams, contaminating drinking water and destroying a distinctly American culture that has endured generations. Over 2,000 miles of streams have been buried and more than 500 mountains and ridge tops literally have been “blown apart”….gone for eternity.
What Are the Effects of MTR on Families and Communities?
Even government agencies that regulate mountaintop removal agree that the effects on nearby homes and communities can be devastating. In their Mid-Atlantic Regional Assessment, the Environmental Protection Agency states:
“The impact of mountaintop removal on nearby communities is devastating. Dynamite blasts needed to splinter rock strata are so strong they crack the foundations and walls of houses. Mining dries up an average of 100 wells a year and contaminates water in others. In many coalfield communities, the purity and availability of drinking water are keen concerns.”
In addition to the frequent loss or pollution of drinking water, families living near mountaintop removal sites contend with: flooding; blasting; and sludge dams. Visit ilovemoutains.org for a description of these impacts, as well as answers to most frequently asked questions about mountaintop removal mining.
Visit Mountain Justice for a description of the steps and the impacts associated with mountaintop removal mining.
Take Action Today!
The Clean Water Resources Protection Act is a bill in the US House of Representatives which will sharply reduce mountaintop removal coal mining by protecting our headwater streams, where our rivers, like the Mississippi and the Ohio, are born. Over 2,000 miles of streams have already been buried and polluted. But we can stop this.
Contact your Representative today and ask him or her to become a cosponsor. Simply click here, enter your zip code, and either thank your elected official for sponsoring these bills, or ask him or her to do so, by using the letter provided. It’s easy, effective, and will take you just a few minutes.
Click here to learn more about the act, including current sponsors and talking points.
This video, filmed and produced by The Topless America Project, is from EJC’s inaugural delegation to Coal River Valley, West Virginia.
Blowing Our Top
CAN TV Interview with Pam and Lan Richart
And Parson Brown, The Topless America Project