Mountaintop mining has been practiced in the United States since the 1960s, primarily in the Appalachian Mountains. The process involves removing all tress from the site, then the topsoil, and then using explosives to remove the remaining soil and rock to reveal coal. The coal is removed and processed, and then the mountaintop is “reclaimed” with soil or an appropriate substitute, and sometimes replanted.6 While mountaintop mining in the Appalachians is only a small percentage of coal produced by the United States, the issues surrounding it are complex and wide-ranging. Some of the many issues raised with mountaintop mining are: high unemployment (due to the lessened man power needed to operate the mining machinery), deforestation, changes to the structure and contamination of mountain streams, loss of habitat for endangered species, introduction of non-native and potentially invasive plants, potential exposure for humans to toxins through the air and water, and increased instance of cancer and birth defects in areas surrounding the mines. 11,13,15 While mountaintop mining is legal under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, many special provisions and waivers are given to mining companies allowing them violate the Clean Air and Water Acts among others. The Bush Administration made several policy changes that relaxed regulations on mining companies, and since 2008 the Obama administration and the EPA have slowly began to bring stricter regulations on the industry and create more environmentally friendly standards for mining companies.
Mountaintop mining has a deep impact on the economy, environment, and health of the surrounding communities and because of this many people, companies, and agencies have a sta...
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...6. Urbina, Ian. "U.S. Fines Mine Owner $20 Million for Pollution - New York Times." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 18 Jan. 2008. 10 Feb. 2012
17. Ward Jr., Ken. "Obama EPA pushes state, company to reduce impacts of CONSOL’s huge Buffalo Mountain strip mine « Coal Tattoo." Gazette blogs. 26 Jan. 2012. 10 Feb. 2012
18. Ward Jr., Ken. "W.Va. Coal Symposium: Bad timing for Alpha « Coal Tattoo." Gazette blogs. 10 Feb. 2012
19."Energy Policy." Mitt Romney Central. Mitt Romney. 10 Feb. 2012
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