Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy of Mountaintop Removal Mining

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Just a reminder: We still can't grow mountains. Once they're gone, they're gone.

Mountain top removal doesn't just destroy the view, it also pollutes our streams and contributes to massive flooding. And, let's not forget about the mountain streams that are destroyed. (When you think mountain streams, think drinking water.)

Coal isn't cheap, clean or pretty, regardless of industry spin. Today's children will pay the consequences of our decisions for the rest of their lives.

Want to do something about it right now? Use less energy. Look around your office and home. What can you unplug and turn off?

Speak up. Let your state and federal legislators know you don't approve of these types of practices. Tell your electric company you're not willing to support their dirty habits, even if it means stapling solar tiles to your entire house. While you're at it, let them know you want green jobs in Charlotte.

P.S. Duke Energy, headquartered right here in Charlotte, burns Central Appalachian Coal. Approximately 50 percent comes from mountaintop removal. A Duke representative told me Friday, during an interview for another, unrelated story, that the company's Riverbend coal plant -- located a mere dozen miles from Uptown -- has a larger-than-usual pile of coal these days because of a contract. Even though energy demand is down and the coal plant doesn't run as often as it used to, the company's contract stipulates that they continue to purchase the coal until their contract expires. I'm told the company plans to look for other coal sources in the near future.

During the last two decades, mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia has destroyed or severely damaged more than a million acres of forest and buried nearly 2,000 miles of streams. Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy of Mountaintop Removal Mining, a video report produced by Yale Environment 360 in collaboration with MediaStorm, focuses on the environmental and social impacts of this practice and examines the long-term effects on the region’s forests and waterways.

At a time when the Obama administration is reviewing mining permit applications throughout West Virginia and three other states, this video offers a first-hand look at mountaintop removal and what is at stake for Appalachia’s environment and its people.

Watch the video here.

Learn more about Yale Environment 360 here.


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