Clean | Green | Sustainable

This is What a Dirty Lie looks Like

Posted by Matthew Koehler on March 18, 2009

One of the greatest environmental and human rights tragedies in America is taking place in mountains of Appalachia, the most biologically diverse region in the country.  According to my friends at organizations such as Appalachian Voices and Coal River Mountain Watch, families and entire communities are being driven off their land by flooding, landslides and blasting resulting from mountaintop removal coal mining.

As Appalachian Voice’s excellent webpage on Mountaintop Removal points out:

Mountaintop removal is a relatively new type of coal mining that began in Appalachia in the 1970s as an extension of conventional strip mining techniques. Primarily, mountaintop removal is occurring in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. Coal companies in Appalachia are increasingly using this method because it allows for almost complete recovery of coal seams while reducing the number of workers required to a fraction of what conventional methods require.

Mountaintop removal involves clear cutting native hardwood forests, using dynamite to blast away as much as 800-1000 feet of mountaintop, and then dumping the waste into nearby valleys, often burying streams. While the environmental devastation caused by this practice is obvious, families and communities near these mining sites are forced to contend with continual blasting from mining operations that can take place up to 300 feet from their homes and operate 24 hours a day. Families and communities near mining sites also suffer from airborne dust and debris, floods that have left hundreds dead and thousands homeless, and contamination of their drinking water supplies.

In central Appalachian counties, which are among the poorest in the nation, homes are frequently the only asset folks have. Mining operations have damaged hundreds of homes beyond repair and the value of homes near a mountaintop removal sites often decrease by as much as 90%. Worst of all, mountaintop removal is threatening not just the people, forest and mountaints of central Appalachia, but the very culture of the region. Coal companies frequently claim that mountaintop removal is beneficial for the people, economy and the environment, but the facts just don’t hold up.

To help create broader awareness of the destructiveness of mountaintop removal specially, and coal in general, a coalition of organizations have recently launched “The Dirty Lie” campaign. I’d highly recommend checking it out and watching the videos, even if their web interface creeps me out a little because it reminds me of the Red Room from Twin Peaks.

If you’re looking to be more action-orientated, click here to write a letter to your congressional representative asking them to support the Clean Water Protection Act (HR 1310), which is one of the main strategies to stop mountaintop removal coal mining. Also, make sure to check back, as in the coming weeks I plan to have more articles about this important environmental and human rights issues directly from community activists who are on the front lines.


3 Responses to “This is What a Dirty Lie looks Like”

  1. pj finn said

    Glad to see you’re posting on MTR. It’s ugly stuff. We may get a glimpse into the Obama admin’s stand on it at a hearing next Monday. Sorry, I’m not very good with these links.

  2. chrisy58 said

    I was very happy to find your blog. I plan on visiting as I am very interested in the topics you post here.

    Glad to see another blogger talking about the evils of Mountaintop Removal Mining.

    Best Wishes

  3. […] Comments JC on AboutChris on Stimulating Bittersweet Bitter…chrisy58 on This is What a Dirty Lie looks…Octavia on Logging Industry Misleads on C…Logging Industry Mis… on Logging Industry […]

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