And now, a word about mountaintop removal. Here's a video clip from I Love Mountains:
For over a hundred years, the people of the coal fields of Appalachia have had to endure economic, environmental, and human rights abuses at the hands of Big Coal. Mountaintop removal is the worst of these abuses, and yet President Bush continues to turn a blind eye to the evils being perpetrated on this region in the name of satisying the coal lobby and providing the country with cheap electricity.
According to Congressman Frank Pallone, the sponsor of the bill, in a diary he posted at Daily Kos:
Mountaintop removal coal-mining is one of the most outrageous assaults on our environment you can imagine. The tops of mountains are literally removed using heavy explosives, turning an incredibly diverse hardwood forest into a moonscape. The toxic rubble is then dumped into the river valleys below, burying and polluting headwater streams, which feed into most of the major rivers of the east.
Earlier this year in Congress, I re-introduced H.R. 2169, the Clean Water Protection Act (CWPA). The CWPA is a simple bill which reverses the Bush Administration’s 2002 decision that the toxic rubble created by mountaintop removal coal-mining can be defined as “fill material,” and dumped into the headwater streams of Appalachia.
For communities in Appalachia, this waste has the horrible effect of poisoning water supplies, often turning tap water orange and even black. While the solid waste is dumped into “valley-fills”, liquid waste containing heavy metals like arsenic, lead and selenium is dumped into “slurry impoundments.” These ponds are known to leak and even break, most tragically at Buffalo Creek, when an impoundment break killed 125 people and displaced another 4,000. In 2000, in Martin County Kentucky, another slurry pond broke, leaking roughly 250 million gallons of toxic sludge into the Big Sandy River watershed. For those of us that remember the Exxon Valdez disaster, this spill was 30 times larger!
Mountaintop removal waste not only affects the health and water quality of the Appalachian region, but also pollutes American waters from the Mississippi River to the Chesapeake Bay to the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.
Once a mountain has been destroyed, it is nearly impossible to reclaim it. The land is worthless for anything else. As you drive down highway 80 in eastern Kentucky heading towards Hazard, there is an area that was mined in this way. For almost as far as you can see, the land is completely barren--not even a blade of grass will grow there. A real estate developer recently took a look at the site with an interest in building a housing subdivision, but the land is so unstable it would be impossible to build anything there.
The blasting from mountaintop removal operations very often takes place within a few hundred feet of places where people live and shop--in fact, several people have already been injured or killed as a result, including a 3 year old boy.
Contact your representative and tell them to support the Clean Water Protection Act. It's the right, moral thing to do.