Front Porch Blog

Coal removal process abuses human rights

When we imagine human rights abuses we often see images ranging from restriction of free speech to genocide. What many people fail to realize is that human rights abuses take place in the U.S. every single day. One form of a human rights atrocity that is being committed is mountaintop removal coal mining that is wreaking havoc for the people of Appalachia.

A coal-extraction process that companies have turned to in the name of corporate expedience is decimating the Appalachian Mountains throughout Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. In order to access the seams of the coal in the mountain, first the forests and topsoil are stripped away. Then, explosives blast up to 1,000 feet off the mountaintops until the coal is exposed. Anything that isn’t coal is dumped into adjacent valleys, in some places up to a depth of 600 feet. To date, mountaintop removal has flattened at least a million acres and buried more than 1,200 miles of biologically crucial Appalachian waterways. The community impacts of mountaintop removal mining are devastating. As forests and vegetation are removed, water cascades down the steep slopes, forming intense flash floods that have devastated towns. So far, flooding in West Virginia has cost $1.5 billion in damages, with taxpayers, not the profiting coal companies, paying for the clean up. If mountaintop removal coal mining is not stopped now, it’s bound to get worse. Even though Appalachia seems far from New York, we must help bring an end to this injustice. For more information and ways to help, please visit and





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