Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Stopping Mountaintop Removal in Appalachia

Before moving to West Virginia, I thought I had encountered some of the worst types of pollution and environmental devastation, from nuclear waste being dumped in South Carolina to massive toxic sites in New Jersey. Though those are indeed horrific, mountaintop removal in Appalachia almost assuredly is the most environmentally-destructive practice I've seen.

Mountaintop removal begins with blasting an entire mountain with high levels of explosives in order to get to the rich coal underneath. Essentially, the remaining mountain dirt and debris is dumped into adjacent valleys and hollows -- and streams --, thus destroying not only the mountains but also vital Appalachian streams and rivers. Coal ash is kept in "sludge" ponds nearby; there are hundreds of such toxic ponds in Appalachia left over from mountaintop removal and coal industry practices in general. Such sludge ponds have overflowed in Kentucky before, wreaking havoc on the environment and surrounding communities.

I strongly believe that mountaintop removal is a crime against humanity and the environment that must be stopped. Collective Appalachian and national organizations must continue to be the watchdog for this destructive coal industry practice and help bring people together for environmental activism.

There's a highly informative video from the organization "I Love Mountains" that highlights this destructive practice.

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