{News and Views} Mountain top removal

It’s getting cold here in Kentucky where I live. It’s the time of year when wool blankets and sweaters come out of storage. Soon there will be nights when it is necessary to turn on the heat in my apartment. This always makes me think about energy consumption and how I can have a positive impact and not be a burden. Here as in other parts of the US, we rely on coal as our primary source of power. Often we pay a high price in terms of the environment and lose part of our heritage. I am talking about mountain top removal and it is a subject that is close to home and close to my heart.

What is Mountain top removal?

  • It is a form of surface mining that removes the summit or summit ridge of a mountain in order to gain easier access to coal seams than is possible through deep surface mining.
  • Areas are deforested in preparation for the removal of the coal.
  • MTR involves using heavy explosives to expose the coal seams and avoids the  use of machinery and man power in an attempt to cut costs.

What effect does MTR have on the environment?

  • Deforestation destroys biodiversity and threatens already scarce wildlife habitat.
  • Water quality suffers as a result of the following: chemicals used in the explosive materials, run off called coal slurry and chemicals used to process the coal after it arrives at the  processing plants.
  • Natural geological features that took millions of years to create are destroyed in an instant. The Appalachian mountain range is one of the two oldest mountain ranges in the world.

If you would like to learn more please visit Mountain Justice and Ilovemountains.org


What is the biggest environmental threat where you live? How are you and your neighbors making a difference in your local environment?



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  1. Short, sweet and to the point! Thanks Elizabeth for this dedication to our naturally occurring geological features! As a native Kentuckian, I can appreciate the frustration in using coal and oil as primary energy resources. . . and don’t even get me started on the lovely little pipeline they want to build:P