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Mountain Top Removal Coal Mining In The Appalachian Regions Of Eastern Kentucky And West Virginia

I personally saw this scene while flying over an MTR mine. The impact is clear as are the sludge ponds. The mountains and valleys to the right are still relatively intact while the area to the left has been mined, leveled and is being reclaimed.    Flight provided by "South Wings" http://www.southwings.org

Over the last century coal mining practices have evolved from deep shaft underground mining, strip mining, to the present extremely wasteful and ecologically disasterous  practice of blowing the tops off the mountains to get at the coal seams underneath.

These mountains represent a precious resource that must be preserved for the long-term welfare of all life in the area. For fulfillment of short-term profit a system of beauty and balance that evolved over hundreds of millions of years is being irretrievably erased by the hand of man and machine.

Within a human lifetime the deterioration of the land and water quality has become self evident. Valleys and valley streams have been buried as "overburden" is dumped as "valleyfill" onto the headwaters of  important watersheds. The role of aquatic life as an important food chain source is effectively cancelled as areas not yet entombed are assaulted by toxic selenium and sulfates generated by the mining industry.

Below are pictures I took while standing on the edge of a coal mine near Hazard, Kentucky. This shows a tiny part of what is continuously going on in the name of "progress" in the area. It seems the local residents are being asked to sacrifice their way of life for the insatiable energy needs of the United States. Jobs are disappearing as the process is highly mechanized. One machine replaces about 100 jobs. After a century of mining the area remains one of the poorest in the nation. People are moving away.

Click below on the first picture to start a slideshow. More controls are at the bottom of each picture.;

Power lines Kingdom Come 61805 2.jpg MTR first signs.jpg MTR the side is blasted away.jpg MTR the mountain top is removed.jpg MTR mine left side coal exposed.jpg
MTR mine left side coal harvest.jpg MTR mine left central coal.jpg MTR mine right view.jpg MTR mine pushing into forest.jpg MTR mine .jpg
Below are scenes taken on the shore of the KY River just downstream from a dam at Boonesboro State Park. I was lucky to get the picures before new sand was dumped on top of the coal to extend the public beach. I do not know if the coal is from spillage in the area or is washed downstream to collect here.
coal KY river 3.jpg coal KY river bank 2.jpg coal KY River 10.jpg coal KY river bank 6.jpg coal KY River bank 8.jpg coal KY river bank 7.jpg coal KY River bank 9.jpg coal KY river bank people.jpg

The arguments for and against the benefits of coal mining, extolled by those who would benefit and condemned by many who feel a deep negative impact on their lives, is a complex issue. There are no easy answers. Yet, the pictures show the simple reality of the legacy left for future generations. These deep scars amidst the beauty of Appalachia will remain long after coal mining is but an archeological remnant of an ancient past. Is this the legacy our generation wishes to leave to all our descendents? Already much has been irrevocably destroyed. Let us turn to alternatives. Mountain top removal mining is simply to costly!

Link to an article About my personal experience with the MTR Tour and highlights of testimonials from the people who live there..PDF

Below are links to websites that do a good job of presenting the many faceted aspects of mountain top removal.

An overview of MTR mining presented by wikipedia

Facts as presented by the Kentucky coal mining industry.

Facts From The United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Facts against mountain top removal mining

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