Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mountain top removal

Someone from Clean Water Action came knocking tonight asking for a donation which I obliged with a token sum. I usually don't give to those who go door to door but tonight was an exception. It was extremely cold standing at the door talking but what really made change my mind was an article he pulled out to show how water was being affected by mountain top removal. (See here for instance.)

The odd thing was that it was such a coincidence that I was reading about mountain top mining. On any other day I may have said no but it just so happens that I am currently going through a series of articles on montain top removal mining by Erik Reece as well as in a recent Smithsonian magazine. What I read really, really bothered me especially was how entrenched coal interests have totally disregarded small mountain communities - in essence poisoning their air, water and in some cases terrorizing the citizens. The scary thing is I am part of the entrenched coal interests whether I like it or not. If there is one word that describes the feeling I have, it is outrage. Yet at the same time I am both shocked and awed at the audacity of the operation. Reece estimates that it only takes 9 people with heavy equipment to remove coal from a mountaintop.

Yet the authors are right in saying that many people are oblivious to this because it takes place in remote places and only small communities are affected. And yes, there are those special interests that do landscape the area after the coal has been removed - building golf courses or making the entire area buildable. It is painful to read about.

The articles are:
1. Salon's review of Erik Reece's book Lost Mountain
2. A preview of Erik Reece's book
3. Orion Magazine's article on Erik Reece's book
4. Smithsonian Magazine's article on mountain top removal mining

The pictures that accompany them however, speak more loudly.

And from the Smthsonian magazine: Should this be counted as an unintended consequence?
Then, in 1990, Eastern coal mining, long in decline, got a boost from an unlikely source: the Clean Air Act, revised that year to restrict sulfur dioxide emissions, the cause of acid rain. As it happens, central Appalachia's coal deposits are low in sulfur.

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