What is mountaintop removal?

Hello there everybody,

Houston again with another installment of some of the more disturbing geo-political happenings that you don’t see on the news everyday.

Before we get started, I’d just like to say happy new years to all of you wonderful readers out there! I hope this year brings all the love, joy and realization of dreams possible for everybody. The stakes are high, so live well and be healthy!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the practice of mountaintop coal mining and why it exists, I’ll give you a brief summary. In order to do that, we have to go back in time about thirty five years.

Mountaintop removal was invented as a “more efficient” form mining, designed to replace strip mining techniques. This required mining companies to dig into the side of a mountain and excavate tunnels so that the coal could be brought to the surface.

As you may be thinking, this required enormous teams and lots of time.

As a result, coal companies began to blast the tops of mountains away with explosives, the reason being that much less time and manpower was needed to recover coal seams.

As you can imagine, this devastates the ecosystem and completely destroys the beauty of our planet.

Mountaintop removal is divided into six main steps, all of which are harmful to the planet and its lifeforms.

  1. The soil and vegetation must be cleared away from the blast site. Trees are most often burned or dumped illegally, which is a complete waste of precious resources and a hazard to our air quality. This waste is a result of coal companies responding to sudden surges in the demand of coal products.
  2. Anywhere from 500 feet or more feet of mountain elevation is then blasted with millions of pounds of explosives. This is because coal seams typically lie very deep beneath the surface of a mountain.
  3. Titanic machines are then used to remove the debris and coal from the blast site, standing easily twenty stories high and capable of moving whole car lots in one fell swoop.
  4. The waste is then dumped into nearby valleys. We can thank the Bush administration for passing a law that made it easier for coal companies to dump toxic mining debris almost anywhere. This has lead to thousands of miles of polluted streams in Appalachia.
  5. Before coal can be burned in power plants, it must be processed. The liquid byproduct of coal production is toxic, and is also dumped into poorly built containing walls. This leads to a very large risk of the groundwater getting polluted.
  6. Reclamation, or preparing the area to spring new life in the future, is patchy and generally waived by state agencies. This is due to the idea that economic development could occur on the now flat areas of land. The truth is that less than 5% of these areas get used for this purpose.

The worst part? It can take hundreds of years for a forest to begin growing again on these blast sites.

for more information, go here.

You can also watch this short video for a visual representation.