Since the 1970s, the coal industry has blasted apart more than 500 of the oldest, most biologically rich mountains in America, and destroyed more than 2,000 miles of headwater streams. Despite a growing movement of Appalachians and thousands of other citizens rallying to end the destruction, it’s still happening.
Mountaintop removal coal mining is when coal companies use heavy explosives to blast off sometimes hundreds of feet of a mountain ridge to access thin seams of coal below. The massive amounts of dirt and rubble, what the industry calls “overburden,” is dumped into adjacent valleys, burying headwater streams.
These “valley fills” are sprayed with grass seed, often non-native species. Gravel ditches, or “reclaimed” streams, are constructed along the sides or down the center of the slopes. But instead of collecting there, rainwater seeps into the ground throughout the site, picking up heavy metals and other toxics from the rubble along the way and contaminating creeks and streams.
- Photos from a Southwings flight over Kayford Mountain, W.Va., July 2014
Mountaintop removal has a devastating impact on the region’s economy, ecology and people. Appalachian Voices is committed to protecting the mountains and communities affected by this process. Here are some of the ways we are working to accomplish our vision for a better region.
Thirty 30 years of satellite imagery show how mountaintop removal coal mining has been getting closer to communities in central Appalachia.
Coal companies have gotten away with obliterating more than 2,000 miles of streams; a new rule would have helped stop the destruction, but was overturned by the Trump administration.
Working with the Alliance for Appalachia, Appalachian Voices developed iLoveMountains.org, a powerful online resource and action center with more than 110,000 supporters dedicated to ending mountaintop removal.