Coal and West Virginia: Where Do I Stand?

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West Virginia is a land of natural beauty. Often described as “wild and wonderful,” the state’s fall foliage, scenic rivers, and abundant wildlife inspired the composition of a ballad. The song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” portrays West Virginia as “almost Heaven,” and the phrase is difficult to refute (Danoff, Denver, & Nivert, 1971). According to the West Virginia Department of Commerce (2009), the state ranks among the lowest in the nation for the cost of living, the employee turnover rate, average home prices, and instances of violent crime. Nestled among the rolling hills and winding rivers, one could certainly be convinced that West Virginia is simply a modern day Garden of Eden. However, the mountain state is not without its share of problems. Just as the deceitful serpent perpetuated Adam and Eve’s banishment from paradise, mountaintop removal poses a serious threat to the ecosystem and economy of West Virginia. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (2005) defines mountaintop removal as “a mining practice where the tops of mountains are removed, exposing the seams of coal.” Coal companies throughout Appalachia adopted this process as a means of acquiring coal faster. People in support of mountaintop removal concentrate, not only on the cheap, plentiful energy which is produced, but also the supposed increase in safer occupation opportunities for miners. Such individuals also argue that flattened land provides space for airports, prisons, and shopping centers. However, mountaintop removal has serious consequences, which need to be revealed. The myths must be dispelled. First of all, coal is not a bountiful. It is a nonrenewable resource and, according to a United States Geologic Survey, it is only expected... ... middle of paper ... ...tistics. Ed. Michael Levi. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1 Feb. 2010. Web. 20 June 2010. . United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2005). Mountain Top Mining Valley Fills In Appalachia Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. Retrieved June 19, 2010, from . United States Geologic Survey. USGS: Your Source for Science You Can Use. Ed. Marcia McNutt. The United States Department of the Interior, 2000. Web. 20 June 2010. . West Virginia Department of Commerce. (2009). This is Our West Virginia. Retrieved June 19, 2010, from . West Virginia Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training. West Virginia Coal Mining Facts . Ed. David Kessler. West Virginia State Agency, 15 Oct. 2009. Web. 20 June 2010. .
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