For years, it was impossible to track the spread of mountaintop removal coal mining in Central Appalachia over the course of time. Appalachian Voices has compiled 30 years of satellite imagery and other data to show how this destructive form of coal mining is gradually getting closer to communities, even as coal production in the region is declining.Of the thousands of communities at risk, the research identified the top 50 where the adverse effects of mountaintop removal — including water pollution, increased health risks, poverty rates and population loss — is greatest.
Alpha Natural Resources is pressing the state Supreme Court to force West Virginia University to provide thousands of documents about the search of a former WVU professor who has published a long list of papers that link mountaintop removal coal mining to increased risk of birth defects, cancer, and a variety of other illnesses among coalfield residents.Highland sued WVU under the state’s Freedom of Information Act, trying to obtain documents related to the preparation of papers authored by then-WVU researcher Michael Hendryx. The company also wants copies of correspondence between Hendryx, various co-authors, and any outside organizations, such as environmental groups and scientists who peer-reviewed the Hendryx papers.Hendryx, who now works at Indiana University, has led a research effort that produced more than two dozen peer-reviewed scientific journal articles that reported residents who live near mountaintop removal mining are at greater risk of serious illnesses.
(source - Mother Nature Network)
The criticism of the EPA in West Virginia that we hear over and over again is that the agency is overly-active and goes too far in its regulating of WV coal mining. Politicians, candidates, electric utilities, and local newspapers lead the charge. With regards to mountaintop removal, however, a different group of critics argue just the opposite - that the agency and the federal government have been far too lax. Unfortunately, their voices are seldom heard:
Here's a reality check: Since President Obama took office in 2009, not a single top-level official from the White House, the EPA, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Department of the Interior, or the Department of Justice has ever made a fact-finding tour of mountaintop removal mining communities in central Appalachia, home to one of the worst health and humanitarian disasters in the nation. Even worse, a federal judge ruled last month that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may disregard studies on the health impacts of mountaintop removal mining in its permitting process.
Activists now have reason to hope:
That could finally change with the newly appointed Department of Health and Human Service Secretary Sylvia Burwell, who was born and raised in Hinton, West Virginia.
"We implore you to come home for a visit, come to our mountaintop removal communities in the Coal River Valley," nationally-honored West Virginia advocate Bo Webb wrote in a letter to Burwell this week. "Come to Twilight and Lindytown and see what mountaintop removal is doing to us."
Read about their efforts here.