Mountaintop Removal Mining Essay

Mountaintop Removal Mining Essay

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Appalachia, a vast, beautiful panoply of lush green mountains. At least, most of the thin line of peaks that make up the Appalachian Mountains used to be that way. Currently, the continued spread of a method of coal extraction known as mountaintop removal mining has plagued areas of the eastern United States, mainly including the state of West Virginia. Throughout its increasing stages of implementation, mountaintop removal mining has caused numerous hampering effects, including causing serious harm to nearby residents, and polluting a once-pure environment. Because of this, mountaintop removal mining needs to be limited in order to preserve the natural state of the Appalachian Mountains.
Mountaintop removal mining has been around for several decades—it started to become prevalent in Appalachia in 1985. 1,2 The general overview of the process of mountaintop removal mining goes as follows: Miners select a mountain to extract coal “seams” from, and clear its surface of major obstructions, mainly trees. 3 Next, either by explosives or machinery, the surface rock and soil of the mountain is removed. As the coal begins to become visible throughout the mountain, miners scoop out the coal. Throughout the process, many tons of rock and dust are displaced into neighboring areas, most often called “valley fills”. As the title implies, valley fills are what once used to be a peaceful vegetated valley that has now been filled with rubble. The coal itself goes through a cleaning process to remove some materials which make for a cleaner burn cycle. After all of the coal is extracted, the mountain goes through a reclamation process which is intended to stabilize and re-vegetate the now-crippled peak. 3 Unfortunately, coal companies tend to s...


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"Mountaintop Mining Leaves Massive Scars in Appalachia." USA Today 27 Oct 2009: A.10. SIRS Researcher. Web. 13 February 2010.
Reece, Erik. "Death of a Mountain." Harper's April 2005: 41-60. SIRS Researcher. Web. 15 February 2010.
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Shnayerson, Michael. Coal River. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008. Print.
Slavin, Peter. "The Coal Mine Next Door." American School Board Journal. March 2006: 16-21. SIRS Researcher. Web. 13 February 2010.
“What is Mountain Top Removal Mining?” Mountain Justice. 13 Feb. 2010
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