Cough cough, black phlegm spews from your lungs…and you don't smoke. That long-awaited bath or shower you desired after a hard days at work, is less orange than before. This is the fate of the folks living in the Appalachians and victims of Mountain Top Removal. Mountain removal is the act of blowing up mountain tops to get at the coal. Mountains that are hundred if not thousands of feet tall are destroyed and leaving destruction in its path. Not just the land, but also the lives of both animals and human.
According to Mountain Justice,
1. Forests are clear-cut; often scraping away topsoil, lumber, understory herbs such as ginseng and goldenseal, and all other forms of life that do not move out of the way quickly enough. Wildlife habitat is destroyed and vegetation loss often leads to floods and landslides. Next, explosives up to 100 times as strong as ones that tore open the Oklahoma City Federal building blast up to 800 feet off mountaintops. Explosions can cause damage to home foundations and wells. “Fly rock,” more aptly named fly boulder, can rain off mountains, endangering resident’s lives and homes.
2. Huge Shovels dig into the soil and trucks haul it away or push it into adjacent valleys.
3. A dragline digs into the rock to expose the coal. These machines can weigh up to 8 million pounds with a base as big as a gymnasium and as tall as a 20-story building. These machines allow coal companies to hire fewer workers. A small crew can tear apart a mountain in less than a year, working night and day. Coal companies make big profits at the expense of us all.The act itself is a detriment to life at the expense of our planet. By clear-cutting trees and blowing up the lands, corporations make millions if not billions of dollars and when done, leave the pristine woodlands for the family who live nearby.
4. Giant machines then scoop out the layers of coal, dumping millions of tons of “overburden” – the former mountaintops – into the narrow adjacent valleys, thereby creating valley fills. Coal companies have forever buried over 1,200 miles of biologically crucial Appalachian headwaters streams
5. Coal companies are supposed to reclaim land, but all too often mine sites are left stripped and bare. Even where attempts to replant vegetation have been made, the mountain is never again returned to its healthy state. Reclamation Problems
Coal washing often results in thousands of gallons of contaminated water that looks like black sludge and contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals. The sludge, or slurry, is often contained behind earthen dams in huge sludge ponds. One of these ponds broke on February 26th, 1972 above the community of Buffalo Creek in southern West Virginia. Pittston Coal Company had been warned that the dam was dangerous, but they did nothing. Heavy rain caused the pond to fill up and it breached the dam, sending a wall of black water into the valley below. Over 132 million gallons of black wastewater raged through the valley. 125 people were killed, 1100 injured and 4000 were left homeless. Over 1000 cars and trucks were destroyed and the disaster did 50 million dollars in damage. The coal company called it an “act of God”.
Marsh Fork Elementary by Brittany Williams.
The school is in lower left of photo. The clear green patch in the lower left is the football field. The tall cylindrical white object is the coal silo, less than 200 feet from the school. The zigzag is the earthen dam holding the sludge lake (2.8 billion gallons), directly above the school.
Traditional mining communities disappear as jobs diminish and residents are driven away by dust, blasting and increased flooding and dangers from overloaded coal trucks careening down small, windy mountain roads. Mining companies buy many of the homes and tear them down. Dynamite is cheaper than people, so mountaintop removal mining does not create many new jobs.
Mingo County flood in West Virginia
Mountaintop removal generates huge amounts of waste. While the solid waste becomes valley fills, liquid waste is stored in massive, dangerous coal slurry impoundments, often built in the headwaters of a watershed. The slurry is a witch’s brew of water used to wash the coal for market, carcinogenic chemicals used in the washing process and coal fines (small particles) laden with all the compounds found in coal, including toxic heavy metals such as arsenic and mercury. Frequent blackwater spills from these impoundments choke the life out of streams. One “spill” of 306 million gallons that sent sludge up to fifteen feet thick into resident’s yards and fouled 75 miles of waterways, has been called the southeast’s worst environmental disaster.
Of course, it’s not only the people who suffer. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has written that mountaintop removal’s destruction of WV’s vast contiguous forests destroys key nesting habitat for neo-tropical migrant bird populations, and thereby decreases the migratory bird populations throughout the northeast U.S.
Liberal talk show host Bob Kincaid of Head On Radio Network, is the voice against mountain top removal with Coal River Mountain Watch, are fighting the battles to protect the Midwest, south from the environmental rape. Kincaid dedicates his online show to educating people of coal-fire plants. In the City of Los Angeles, the City-owned Power company Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, will be ending coal-fired generators by 2029. The impact of coal has reached the state of California and the nation's largest public utility has heeded the call.
According to General Manager Ron Nichols. The utility is required by state law to stop using coal to generate electricity by 2029. Today, coal accounts for 39 percent of its power supply. State law also requires all California utilities to meet 33 percent of electricity needs with renewable resources by 2020. And, the utility must rebuild 2,700 megawatts of gas-fired generation to comply with a state mandate to eliminate once-through ocean water cooling—that, too, by 2029.
As a former employee, LADWP has invested in wind and solar power as well as Co-gen (trash incineration) to turn the turbines that produce power needed to create electricity. Since the LADWP is owned by the people, pressure from folks like CRMW and Kincaid and the thousands of activists turned the tide of using coal…though LADWP uses nuclear power, which makes up about 11%, public pressure, especially the disaster in Fukushima may decrease:
|Power Source||Megawatts (2010)||Megawatts (2030)|
At the federal level, Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced THE ACHE ACT. The ACHE Act is:
To place a moratorium on permitting for mountaintop removal
coal mining until health studies are conducted
by the Department of Health and Human Services, and
for other purposes.
In order to prevent corporate/predatory capitalism upon the working class folks who believe that the $80,000 paycheck they are receiving will be there forever and are willing to sacrifice their lives, their family lives as well as the nation from this form of cannibalistic capitalism. Now with the Republicans following Frank Luntz's scheme to make Obama a one-term president is willing to NOT pass laws to prevent death and destruction of their constituents. This is the end-result of the do-nothing Republicans standing their ground.