Van Staal, C.R., Whalen, J.B., Valverde-Vaquero, P., Zagorevski, A., and Rogers, N. (2009) Pre-Carboniferous, Episodic Accretion-Related, Orogenesis along the Laurentian Margin of the Northern Appalachians. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, vol. 327, p. 271-316.
West Virginia and Kentucky have been faced with a rise in health-related issues, leading the nation in cancer-related deaths. Many of those cases have been said to be caused from greater exposer to pollution from coal-mining activity, which is said to increase your chances for cancer along with other fatal diseases. The Appalachia area has seen a rise in mortality rates, over 60,000 cases of those being cancer-related deaths directly linked to mountaintop removal practices. Mountaintop removal has been deemed as cleaner and safer than men going below ground to mine for coal, but with Appalachian communities- primarily in West Virginia, Kentucky and Southwestern Virginia seeing a high rise in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and birth defects rates, mountaintop removal has been looked at as one of the main causes.
How coal is formed is quite an interesting topic. It started over millions of years ago in ancient swamps when vegetation and trees died and formed peat (it is where vegetation builds up and turns into a super messy pile of stuff). This peat was eventually covered with either dirt or sand. As the peat is covered and pressure the gas that the peat gives off starts to get trapped in the new forming coal. Several years the peat now turns to rock known as coal. As the planetary plates shift the coal moves and forms pockets and runs in the earth. Then people came along and found out how to harness is power. People had to get the coal out of the earth. One way they found out how to get it out was to dig it out of the underground tunnels to find where the coal runs. Another way to get the coal is to strip mine the coal this is where the miners remove huge amounts of dirt to get to the coal. Both of these mining techniques are extremely dangers.
Fleeger, Gary M., Bushnell, Kent O., and Watson, Donald W. “Moraine and McConnells Mill State Parks.” Pennsylvania Trail of Geology. 2003. Print. 29 April 2014.
One of the main issues that the book, “Ecology of Fear,” discussed about were the inherent dangers and problems that suburbanization imposed upon the landscape of Southern California. Although suburbanization in theory and in reality did create abundant benefits to a great mass of people, especially to those who wanted to avoid the daily nuisances of urban city life, its negative consequences were quite grave indeed. Suburbanization led to a complete eradication to the natural landscape of many areas in California. The book’s vivid accounts of how the lush, green landscape was bulldozed just to build tracts of homes were a painful reminder of the beauty that was lost due to suburbanization. “In 1958 sociologist William Whyte – author of The Organization Man – had a disturbing vision as he was leaving Southern California. ‘Flying from Los Angeles to San Bernardino – an unnerving lesson in man’s infinite capacity to mess up his environment – the traveler can see a legion of bulldozers gnawing into the last remaining tract of green between the two cities’.” (Davis, p. 77)...
Mountain Top Removal is an American tragedy, the process in which mining companies remove forests and topsoil then explode the mountain apart level by level to get to coal layer. It is estimated that the explosives are equivalent of the Hiroshima bomb. A lot of the mining waste is discarded into valleys and streams; the water runoff is high in silt, ion, and sulfur compounds, which in turn pollute water downstream. Even with chemical treatments, vegetation has a hard time growing on the infertile and highly acidic soil. Mountain top removal occurs in eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia, southwest Virginia, and east Tennessee. Virtually 1.2 million acres of land has been surface mined and more than 500 mountains have been ruined by mountaintop removal mining.
The 205-thousand-square-mile Appalachian Mountain range, which spans from Eastern Canada to northern Alabama, boasts North America’s oldest mountains (formed approximately 400 million years ago), the highest peak of the eastern United States (Mount Mitchell), industrial production opportunities and leisurely recreation. The range includes the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky mountains (NCSU, n.d.). A range of recreational activities such as fishing in freshwater streams, camping, biking the Blue Ridge Parkway, skiing and hiking are available in the region. One popular hiking location is the 2,184-mile Appalachian Natural Scenic Trail, which is the longest walking trail in the eastern United States (United States. National Park Service, 2014). Its rich natural capital offers a plethora of resources, allowing production to range from small-scale agricultural establishments to larger industrial outputs of metal and timber. Approximately 80 percent of land has been used for the coal and logging industry since the 90’s (Little, 1995). Though the commercial utilization of the mountains has boosted the economy of Appalachian towns and cities, it has also degraded the range aesthetically and commercially.
The tar creek mining site originally was owned by a Native American tribe, the Quapaw. The Quapaw wanted to keep these lands, but the Bureau of Indian Affairs deemed members opposing a transaction to mining companies “incompetent” (1). In such a case the business could continue and the Bureau of Indian Affairs sold the lands to mining companies. In essence these lands were stolen from the Quapaw because they were ripe for mining. These mines were then used from approximately 1891 to 1970. In the 79 years the mines were open 1.7 million metric tons (~3.75 billion pounds) of lead and 8.8 million metric tons (~19.4 billion pounds) of zinc were withdrawn from the mine (2). The entire area around Tar Creek is known as the tri-state mining area. This tri-state area was a massive source of metals. This area accounted for 35% of the all worldwide metal for a decade. It also provided the majority of metals the United States used in World wars I and II (3).
Burning and mining coal for fuel is harmful to the environment but because how cheap and easy it is to find many people are unwilling to give it up as a fuel source. One of the problems with coal is that they are limited and are non-renewable so once it has been used we won’t be able to use it again.
Coal is by far the most abundant of fossil fuels, and will be available for much longer than oil. Having been harvested and burned since the 13th century, a massive infrastructure has been formed to quickly and efficiently mine, deliver, and burn coal. Coal is also the cheapest of fossil fuels (The Futurist, 1997)
To the northeast part of Arizona lay a conflict between two indigenous groups from the surrounding area and the world’s largest coal company formerly known as Peabody Coal (now Peabody Energy). The Hopi and Navajo reservations surround a region known as Black Mesa. Black Mesa is located on both the Navajo and Hopi Reservations which is a target source for underground water called the N-aquifer. The N-aquifer contains a great amount of pristine Ice Age water. As time drew on, many indigenous people were alarmed that the water was carelessly being depleted from their land. Mining on Black Mesa should be stopped because the inhabitants are affected by Peabody, livestock in the area must depend on the local springs, groundwater is being depleted at an average of 3.3 million gallons per day, and the water is being contaminated (SBMW Online par 1).
Owens Valley lies to the east of the Sierra Nevada mountain and west of the White-Inyo mountain ranges, just to the west of the U.S.’s Great Basin. Early settlers to this area, as all other immediate surrounding area’s originally, were Indians, one of the Paiute tribes. This tribe lived by a simple and direct policy in terms of living with the environment. Their food supply was derived from seasonal crops of wild seeds and roots, fishing, and hunting of the deer, antelope, mountain sheep, jackrabbit, and waterfowl which flourished along the valley floor and hillsides. They took only what they required for food and trade. Unfortunately, pioneer expansion soon took precedence with the majority of them being miners who migrated to the region from the east following the Western mines (Sauder, 1994). With this colonization came agricultural expansion as well, which included cattle production and various farming crops. Of course, confrontation, the beginning of a lifetime of fight over Owens Valley, was spurred with the Paiutes over ownership of this rich valley abundant in usable resources. Due to the Paiute’s simple and peaceful attitude, the early pioneers took over the valley and every one of it’s resources, placing the Paiute’s out in the cold, where they continued urbanization and agriculture of the landscape.
It is a drastic procedure, and has gained quite a bit of unwanted attention in the past few years. Many groups have come together to ban against mountain top removal due to the effects it has on the environment and towns that they are located in. Not everything associated with this mining practice is necessarily bad though. There are in fact positive characteristics to mountaintop removal. When mountaintop removal happens in a community it creates jobs for that community and other towns/cities around the process. Mountain top removal allows for infrastructure development. Once a mountaintop has been removed, it becomes a viable piece of land for development. In places where mountaintop mining has been successfully completed, the land has been transformed into golf courses, airports, highway interchanges, and even shopping
Mountaintop removal, or Mountaintop Mining, is a criticized mining technique that mainly occurs in West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. It is a form of surface mining, that is very different from other surface techniques, as it uses very strong and powerful explosives. Mountaintop Mining is the process of blowing the tops off mountains in order to extract the coal inside. This mining process is criticized as coal companies use strong explosives such as dynamite, in order to blow open mountains for coal. Many groups and nature organizations have fought against this technique as it ruins and destroys the environment.