Mountaintop removal in Appalachia is literally one of the worst things happening on the planet.
This weekend in southern West Virginia is the annual Mountain Justice Fall Summit, a gathering of people from around the country that converge in West Virginia to address the crisis of mountaintop removal and fracking in Appalachia. I’ve been part of the mountain justice community for many years and I feel as though Appalachia has become my second home. As such, I very much want to attend this event and do my part to help end the devastation in our oldest and most beautiful mountains and the communities that reside there (because mountaintop removal in Appalachia is literally one of the worst things happening on the planet).
Of course, with the election looming, traveling to West Virginia for the weekend, even for such an important event, is not practical. Instead, I’m going to take this opportunity to talk a little about the travesty that is mountaintop removal and encourage everyone that is reading this to take a stand against mountaintop removal and fracking in Appalachia. The horrors of fracking have been well documented and have become part of a national debate on our energy future. As such, I’m going to focus on mountaintop removal because mountaintop removal in Appalachia is literally one of the worst things happening on the planet and very few people know about it.
Simply put, mountaintop removal is a form of coal extraction whereby large coal companies drill huge holes into the top of mountains, fill those holes with toxic explosives, and then literally blow up the mountain, chunk by chunk. To give you some perspective, every day, on average, the coal companies use 5.5 million pounds of explosives. After the explosion they then use huge, building size machines to dump the rubble of the destroyed mountains into the adjacent valleys thereby destroying everything there too. So far in the U.S. more than 500 mountains have been destroyed and more than 2000 miles of streams and rivers have been permanently buried. Mountaintop removal in Appalachia is literally one of the worst things happening on the planet.
Beyond just the environmental impacts, the results of mountaintop removal are truly horrific. Study after study have shown that cancer rates, birth defects, and other negative health effects in communities near where mountaintop removal is taking place are much higher than in comparable communities elsewhere. A study by West Virginia University that was published this week by the journal Environmental Science and Technology confirms this. “A growing body of evidence links living in proximity to [mountaintop removal] activities to greater risk of serious health consequences, including significantly higher reports of cancer,” the study said. “Our finding strengthens previous epidemiological studies linking [mountaintop removal] to increased incidence of lung cancer, and supports adoption of prevention strategies and exposure control.” Mountaintop removal in Appalachia is literally one of the worst things happening on the planet. To see a list of more studies confirming this see here.
My brief overview barely scratches the surface of the horrors of what is happening in Appalachia. To learn more about the devastation that is occurring every day I recommend the resources page on the I Love Mountains website. Additionally, I recommend the video Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy of Mountaintop Removal Mining. Finally, since mountaintop removal in Appalachia is literally one of the worst things happening on the planet, there are a lot of great books chronicling the devastation; I suggest starting with Plundering Appalachia: The Tragedy of Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining.
At the beginning of his first term many people thought that President Obama would use his powers through the Environmental Protection Agency to finally end the national disgrace of mountaintop removal but that didn’t happen. Instead, mountaintop removal continued and fracking exploded across the country, destroying communities wherever the drills pierce the earth. Recently the EPA has increased its efforts to slow down mountaintop removal, however, their actions are not nearly enough. Enter the Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act, a Congressional bill that would effectively end mountaintop removal. In order to become law the ACHE Act needs to pass both houses of Congress. In order for that to happen your Congressperson and Senator need to hear from you. You can find the contact information for your House member here and your Senator here. Mountaintop removal in Appalachia is literally one of the worst things happening on the planet, please make the call today.
Additionally, there are a lot of great organizations working tirelessly to end mountaintop removal and I suggest doing some research and getting involved or supporting at least one of them. Some that immediately come to mind are Keeper of the Mountains Foundation and Coal River Mountain Watch. Mountaintop removal in Appalachia is literally one of the worst things happening on the planet, you should do something about it.
My priorities are improving job growth through ramping up the state’s clean energy economy, improving education for all of our children and young people, and stabilizing taxes for low and middle income families. In the coming weeks I’ll post more specific information on each of these priorities as well on other issues relevant to this race. In the meantime, if you have questions or want to know my thoughts on an issue, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or just comment on this post.
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This image was used to promote Mountain Justice Spring Break this year, an event that I helped to organize.