"Mountaintop Removal" is more correctly 
"Mountain Range Destruction"

The US Geological Survey reports that in the year 2000 the state of Kentucky was the leader in the United States in the use of explosives. The state consumed high explosives and blasting agents at the astonishing rate of 1,400 metric tons (3 million pounds) per day, most of that being used for surface mining. 

The satellite photograph below (Kentucky's Perry and Knott Counties) shows the extent of devastation that can be wreaked on the earth by such use of explosives in conjunction with the Caterpillar company. The squiggly line through the upper center of the map photo is the road (KY 476) that follows alongside the aptly named Troublesome Creek.

 

  
From examining the Google map above (20 x 30 miles) it wouldn't be unreasonable to predict that more than 50% of Perry and Knott counties will eventually be subjected to mountaintop removal.
  

Bill Caylor, president of The Kentucky Coal Association, has said on numerous occasions that no more than 6.8% of all of Appalachia will ever be affected by mountaintop removal or surface mining. However, the Google map above and this map from the 2005 EPA Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) suggest that a considerably larger percentage of some regions of Appalachia will be affected. In fact, Caylor misquotes the Environmental Impact Statement to get his 6.8%. What it actually says is: "Of the largely forested study area, approximately 6.8% has been or may be affected by recent and future (1992-2012) mountaintop mining [USEPA, 2002]." The study area did not include all of Appalachia nor all of the coal mining region of Appalachia.  And this forecast only includes the next few years, until 2012, not forever as Caylor has repeatedly stated. 
      
Many believe the coal industry intends to convert most of eastern Kentucky -- from West Virginia to Tennessee -- into what can only be described as an enormous gravel parking lot.  Actually, it's worse than a gravel parking lot.  More vegetation by far grows in a typical gravel driveway than will grow on a strip mine site reclaimed by current methods.  If you stand on the average reclaimed mine site 10 or 20 years after reclamation and look at the ground beneath your feet -- what you'll see is scraggly and sparce non-native grasses struggling to grow from a hardpan of crushed stone and clay. Gaze across the undulating expanse which was once verdant tree-covered mountaintops -- There will be few trees if any, nowhere will you see any sod, or anything that will retain water or serve as a suitable soil for growth of vegetation.
   
Due to the inaccessibility of mountaintop-removal operations, few persons have the opportunity to observe them first-hand, and fewer have stood on a "reclaimed" mine site. Few know the devastation such mining causes to the land, the wildlife, the streams, and the people -- the real cost of cheap coal to the people of Appalachia. As Bobbie Ann Mason said, "It could break your heart to know."   

Forty years ago Eastern Kentucky resident Dan Gibson said, "The strip miners are killing these old hills. When they finish, there won't be anything left . . . my land is dying."   

Take a trip through the mining region of eastern Kentucky and you'll see that little has changed, except there is less time remaining to do something about it.
   


Politics Over Public Interest

The 2005 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on mountaintop removal mining -- a legally required government study begun in 1998 in response to litigation by local citizens -- is a prime example of politics over public interest. The purpose of the study was to explore ways to limit the impact of mountaintop removal mining. But while the government included extensive scientific research documenting damage of this practice to communities and the environment, and in the face of 80,000 public comments against this practice, the Bush administration used the study to endorse mountaintop removal, and recommend streamlining the permitting process.
                                           --- http://waterkeeper.org/mainarticledetails.aspx?articleid=211 


More Information 
    
Read more about Mountaintop Removal mining's effects on the economy.
The 2005 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement -- final version
The Kentucky River Watershed and Kentucky water quality.
Check out the Christians for the Mountains'  "Mountain Mourning" DVD HERE.
    
I Love Mountains   http://www.ilovemountains.org/resources
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition   http://www.ohvec.org/ 
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth   http://kftc.org/our-work/canary-project 
Christians for the Mountains   http://www.christiansforthemountains.org/ 
Mountaintop Removal -- Wikipedia   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountaintop_removal
Mountain Justice Summer  http://www.mountainjusticesummer.org/facts/steps.php 
Environmental Protection Agency   http://www.epa.gov/maia/html/issue-valley.html 
Appalachian Voices   http://www.appvoices.org/index.php?/site/mtr_overview/
Stop Mountaintop Removal   http://www.stopmountaintopremoval.org/
Union of Concerned Scientists   http://www.ucsusa.org/scientific_integrity/interference/mountaintop-removal-mining.html
Sludge Safety Project   http://www.sludgesafety.org/news/2005/02_21.html
United Mountain Defense   http://www.unitedmountaindefense.org/
True Cost of Mountaintop Removal   http://www.ncrlc.com/corner-post-webpages/True-Cost-Mt-Removal.html
Save Our Cumberland Mountains  http://www.socm.org
Coal River Mountain Watch  http://webpages.charter.net/crmw

 










FAIR USE NOTICE: This web page may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner.  We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, governmental, and ethical issues through comment and criticism.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.  In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed in the public interest without profit to be used for research and educational purposes. For more information see: http://copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107.  If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.