John McQuaid has a good article on Environment 360, an environmental site at Yale.
Laurel Branch Hollow was once a small West Virginia mountain valley, with steep, forested hillsides and a stream that, depending on the season and the rains, flowed or trickled down into the Mud River about 200 yards below. The stream teamed with microbes and insect life, and each spring it became a sumptuous buffet for the birds, fish, and amphibians in the valley.
But over the past decade, the Hobet 21 mountaintop removal coal mining operation has obliterated 25 square miles of surrounding highlands. From the air, the mine is a 10-mile-long, mottled gray blotch among the green, crisscrossed by trucks and earth movers, appended by black lakes of coal sludge.
The Caudill family has owned a house at the mouth of the hollow since the early 1900s. Many of their neighbors left, but the Caudills fought and blocked an attempt by Hobet to force them to sell their property. Unfazed, the mining operation simply steered around their land, and dumped a mountain’s worth of rocky debris into the Laurel Branch up to their property line.
This is not the type of article you want to read when you are looking for a place to relocate to. Honestly, it’s not the type of article you want to read if you are already living in the area.
I am voting with my pocketbook down here in Texas. I buy my electricity from a company that guarantees that all of the power I use comes from windpower. It costs me a few pennies per kwh more, but to try and do my part to cut the blasting of the mountain tops I decided I could not afford to pay less.
If you are still undecided about the realities of living in coal country, be sure and read up on mountaintop removal.
If this is the first you’ve heard about environment360, go spend some time at the site. You may want to do what I do and subscribe to their rss feed.
via Mountaintop Mining Legacy: Destroying Appalachia’s Streams by John McQuaid: Yale Environment 360.