Love Mountains? You Won’t Love Mountaintop Removal

Written by Danielle Davis for Your Daily Thread

Mountaintop removal coal mining has been in the news lately. It’s even been on the The Colbert Report.

What’s the scoop? It sounds like what it is. Blowing off the tops of mountains to get to the coal inside. According to, the first four steps are clearing (as in trees), blasting, digging and dumping (as in waste).

What’s the problem? Where to begin. Coal companies like this method of coal extraction because it requires fewer workers. So one problem is more unemployment throughout coal country, the central/southern Appalachian Mountain region. Other ills: the forests are cut down, plants and animals destroyed, streams damaged by or even buried in toxic waste (1,200 miles of them as of nine years ago), sludge ponds created, and drinking water contaminated by pollutants and heavy metals. And these are mountain areas that took millions of years to evolve to things of beauty and biodiversity. A recent study in Science has experts saying , “the environmental and public health impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining are ‘pervasive and irreversible.’”

The people most affected by mountaintop removal are, of course, those living near the mountains. From noisy blasts to serious health concerns via drinking water to the destruction of their land, people in places like Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee are being hit hard.  But we all have a stake in it. And we may be more connected than we think.

After all, everyone uses electricity, over half of which comes from burning coal.

At iLoveMountains, you can type in your zip code and find out if your utility buys mountaintop removed coal . Mine, the City of Los Angeles, does.

There is good work to be done if we want to put an end to this practice.

We can cut down on our energy consumption.
We can elect to buy some of our power from green sources (aka wind and solar).
We can tell our leaders what we think.
We can find out more.
And we can heed that wonderful Kentuckian, Wendell Berry’s admonition:
“That precious creatures (or resources, if you insist) that are infinitely renewable can be destroyed for the sake of a resource that to be used must be forever destroyed, is not just a freak of short-term accounting and the externalization of cost – it is an inversion of our sense of what is good. It is madness.”

iLoveMountains has a take action page to do just that.

And I recommend the documentary, Burning the Future: Coal in America for more on the subject.

You can also check out my interview with a college student who grew up in Eastern/Central KY for a firsthand perspective.

And if you’re so inclined, check out the Colbert Report episode below.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Coal Comfort – Margaret Palmer
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election March to Keep Fear Alive

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The Healthy Voyager, aka Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, is the creator and host of The Healthy Voyager web series, site, and overall brand. An award winning healthy, special diet and green living and travel expert, holistic nutritionist, plant based vegan chef, best-selling cookbook author, media spokesperson, sought after speaker, consultant and television personality, Carolyn Scott-Hamilton is a respected figure in the world of healthy lifestyle and travel as well as special diet cooking and nutrition. The Healthy Voyager aims to help people live well, one veggie at a time!

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