Flattening of Appalachia: What happens after mountaintop removal


LOUISVILLE, KY — “A study out of Duke University made public this month shows that’s just what’s happened in parts of Central Appalachia, where researchers have calculated areas that became 40 percent flatter after mining.

Whether all that new flat land has turned into shopping malls, airports and industrial parks is another question.

Last summer, Watchdog Earth reported that coal production from mountaintop removal mining had fallen 62 percent since 2008, dropping at a faster rate than overall coal production during a period of industry decline. The mining practice involves blasting the tops and sides of mountains to get at underground coal seams.

This study compared pre- and post-mining topographic data in southern West Virginia, examining the regional impact of mountaintop mines on landscape topography and how those changes might influence water quality.”

— James Bruggers, Louisville Courier-Journal

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