SOURCE: Truthout and PLOS One

DATE: July 30, 2018

SNIP: A shocking new study has revealed the truth about mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia, and the situation is even worse than we thought. Every year this highly invasive coal mining method destroys approximately 21,000 acres of land. To put that into perspective, that’s about two-thirds the area of San Francisco.

In the last 40 years, the coal mining industry has cleared some 2,300 square miles of land. And that land will take decades — possibly centuries — to recover from the environmental insult provided by coal companies greedy for profits. The surrounding human communities, meanwhile, will also pay a high price.

This mining technique involves pretty much exactly what it sounds like: Mountains are cleared of trees and shrubs and then their tops are scraped open to reveal commercially valuable seams of coal inside. This process is much cheaper than alternatives, and it allows for better access to some deposits of coal, which makes it highly appealing to coal companies.

But it’s horrific for the environment. Clearing mountains destroys habitat and threatens wildlife, and the process of extraction is quite unpleasant as well. In regions where such operations are commonplace, contamination spreads to the surrounding soil, water and air, making communities very sick.