Mountaintop Removal Mining: Before and After

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Mountaintop removal coal mining continues to scar the Appalachian Mountains. Although the coal industry has declined due to market forces, mountains and streams are still being destroyed, and communities are still being harmed. Use the maps below to explore the expansion of select mountaintop removal mines across Central Appalachia over the last 3 decades.

BEFORE

Wise County,VA

1984

Looney Ridge Before

AFTER

2016

Looney Ridge Surface
A & G Mining

Looney Ridge After 2016


The above collection of mine permits is owned and operated by one of the many companies tied to West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. Mining began at this site well over a decade ago, but these mines has been in temporary cessation since 2013. This means that the mine has neither produced coal, nor undergone significant reclamation for 5 years. Both the Bearpen Hollow and Looney Ridge Surface Mine, together totaling more than 3,000 acres, are self bonded meaning that the coal company itself holds the necessary funds for reclamation, but does not have to secure those funds with an independent third party.

BEFORE

Lincoln/Boone Counties, WV

1984

Hobet Before

AFTER

2016

ERP Environmental Fund

Hobet After 2016


At over 12,000 acres, the Hobet mine is one of the largest mines in Central Appalachia. The mine has been owned by several companies over its long history, including Patriot Coal, which declared bankruptcy in 2015. The mine was then purchased by ERP Environmental Fund, a new company that has made great promises regarding reforestation, but has also struggled with bankruptcies of its own.

BEFORE

Letcher County, KY

2004

Eola Before

AFTER

2016

REVELATION ENERGY

EOLIA After


Revelation Coal company is a West Virginia-based company owned by Jeff Hoops. The company holds many permits in Kentucky, and Hoop’s mining companies have recently expanded to western states as well

BEFORE

Mingo County, WV

1984

Mingo Before

AFTER

2016

-Lexington Coal # 3 Mine


At over 3,000 acres, this mine complex includes at least 15 valley fills. Valley fills are created when mountain ridges are blown up to access coal, and the excess rock and debris, known as overburden, is dumped into the valleys below the mountain. This activity buries headwater streams, damaging water quality for miles downstream.