Coal / Mountaintop Removal

COAL: Art, activism mix in airborne crusade against strip mining

An image captured by a drone of the Brushy Fork Slurry Impoundment, a coal waste embankment that ranks as the tallest dam in the Western Hemisphere (Credit: Coal River Mountain Watch).

RALEIGH COUNTY, WV — “Environmentalists have turned a hobbyist drone into a weapon in their long, bitter battle against strip mining.

Junior Walk of Coal River Mountain Watch has recorded hours of aerial footage of mountaintop-removal coal mining and the massive Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment in southwest West Virginia — reconnaissance his group couldn’t afford if it had to hire a pilot and plane.

Walk, 26, is the primary drone operator for Appalachian Mountaintop Patrol (AMP), a fledgling collaboration with Coal River Mountain Watch and other activist groups and New York filmmaker Laura Grace Chipley.

The enterprise allows anyone with an internet connection to take a high-definition tour of strip mines in the West Virginia mountains. Walk needs only to avoid straying onto coal company property and stay mindful of his drone’s 20 minutes of battery life.”

— Dylan Brown, E&E News

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