Front Porch Blog

Leveling Appalachia Under the Guise of Development

Over 500 mountains have been leveled by mountaintop removal coal mining-nearly a half million acres of Appalachian land in Kentucky alone.

Coal companies have defended mountaintop removal with claims that the flattened mountains provide ideal land for development and it will actually help the Appalachian economy, yet very little of the permitted land has been scheduled for commercial, residential or industrial development.

According to the Surface Mining Control and Reclaimation Act (SMCRA) of 1977, companies applying to mine an area must submit a plan to reclaim the land post-mining.

Since 1999, almost 500,000 acres have been permitted for blasting followed by a post-mining project. Less than 3 percent of this acreage has actually been reclaimed. Add to that total the tens of thousands of acres blasted away before reclamation was required, and you have a topography pockmarked with barren, exposed rock that supports neither human nor environmental development.

Some reclamation projects that are underway include fish and wildlife habitats, housing developments and municipal structures, including prisons, hospitals, ball parks and road beds. But with the population of coal field counties steadily decreasing, the demand for large-scale infrastructure on reclaimed sites is weakening.

Read “Mountains of potential? Reclaimed Surface Mines Offer Level Land, but Very Little of it is Used for Development” for the full story.





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