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.
[Photos from a Southwings flight over Kayford Mountain, W.Va., July 2014.]
Mountaintop removal coal mining is a destructive form of extracting coal in which coal companies, using heavy explosives, blast off hundreds of feet of an ancient mountain ridge to access thin seams of coal below. The massive amounts of dirt and rubble, what the coal industry calls “overburden,” is dumped into adjacent valleys, burying headwater streams.
These “valley fills” are sprayed with often non-native grasses and gravel ditches, or “reclaimed” streams, are constructed along the sides or down the center of the slopes. But instead of collecting there, water tends to seep into the ground throughout the site, picking up heavy metals and other toxics from the rubble before coming out below and contaminating creeks and streams.
Mountaintop removal has a devastating impact on the region’s economy, ecology and communities. 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.
Due to weaknesses in federal law and shoddy enforcement by state regulators, coal mining companies have gotten away with obliterating more than 2,000 miles of streams in Appalachia over the past 30 years. A much-anticipated new rule from the Obama administration due out this year could help end the destruction. Learn more >>
Our primary goal in the Volunteer state is to pass the bipartisan Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act, which would ban high-elevation surface mining techniques such as mountaintop removal, on peaks above 2,000 feet. Learn more >>
Appalachian Voices is working with the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards in southwest Virginia, the heart of the commonwealth’s coalfields, and others in the Wise Energy for Virginia coalition to end mountaintop removal and promote more sustainable economic opportunities, including energy efficiency. Learn more >>
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. Visit iLoveMountains.org >>