End Mountaintop Removal Week takes place in the first full week of June. This year, it is from June 2 8. Raising awareness about the harmful effects of mountaintop removal is the goal. Mountaintop removal is a method of coal mining. Companies raze mountains and clear the undergrowth with tractors. This debris gets burned in deep holes and later stuffed with explosives. Miners blow mountains apart, scooping up tons of waste with massive machines called draglines and dumping them into nearby streams. The explosives may blow between 800 to 1,000 feet off the tops of mountains to get to the coal underneath.
History of End Mountain Top Removal Week
Mountaintop removal began in the Appalachian mountains in 1970. It’s an extension of strip-mining techniques that allows for almost complete recovery of coal seams. Mountaintop removal reduces the number of workers down to a fraction of what a mining company would require with conventional methods. While this keeps things nice and cheap for mining companies, mountaintop removal has a devastating effect on the environment and the nearby populations. Yet this practice had continued since the 1990s when mining corporations decided to make mountaintop removal their primary method of operation.
In West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, mountain peaks that took millions of years to form got blown off in months. Forests got chopped down and burned to ashes. Permits increased from 9,800 acres in the 1980s to 12,540 acres over nine months in 2002. All of this affected the environment and the societies of these states. The Federal Clean Air Act introduced in the 1990s added fuel to the fire. Standards for emissions got a lot more stringent, which meant mining companies had to source coal with lower sulfur content to prevent acid rain. West Virginia’s mountain ranges have coal with low sulfur content, and the mining companies descended on them.
The demand for mountaintop coal has increased significantly since then due to higher oil prices and more energy-intensive lifestyles in the U.S. The Chinese and Indian economies also have a massive reliance on coal energy. Consequently, the cost of Appalachian coal has almost tripled since 2006. The good news is that many environmental organizations and even former coal miners have banded together in recent years to combat mountaintop removal. Through advocacy and activism laws like the Clean Water Act have brought some protections to mountains and surrounding communities.
End Mountain Top Removal Week timeline
English geologist David T. Ansted discovers coal in the Appalachian mountains.
Mountaintop coal mining starts on Bullpush Mountain in West Virginia.
Forty-four permits for mountaintop coal mining receive government approval.
The Federal Clean Air Act caps the amount of sulfur and volatility of coal from mining.
End Mountain Top Removal Week FAQs
When did mountaintop removal start?
Mountaintop removal started in the 1970s.
What is the point of mountaintop removal?
Mountaintop removal is a form of surface coal mining.
How many mountaintops have been removed?
A total of 500 mountaintops have been destroyed through mountaintop removal mining.
How to Observe End Mountain Top Removal Week
Spread the word
Help the movement by spreading the word. Talk to people about mountaintop removal and its adverse effects on the environment. The more allies against this harmful mining practice there are, the better.
Engage in advocacy
Every day public justice movements work in federal courts to end the practice of mountaintop removal. This includes activism and lobbying lawmakers from affected areas to mobilize legal and political support for the cause. Do your part by engaging in advocacy so American mountain ranges and the forests bordering them can remain intact.
Donate to environmental organizations
Organizations like Earth Justice and Appalachian Voices are dedicated to eradicating mountaintop removal coal mining in the U.S. Donations to environmental organizations help cover the cost of court cases and other expenses accrued in their quest to protect the ecosystem. Give some of your money to help their cause during End Mountaintop Removal Week.
5 Important Facts About Mountaintop Removal
2,000 miles of streams destroyed
Mountaintop removal has destroyed over 2,000 miles of streams supplying drinking water.
The legal loophole
In 2002, the Bush administration legalized mountaintop removal by allowing waste in waterways.
Numbers don’t lie
A Duke University study found Appalachia was 40% flatter after years of mountaintop removal.
Mountaintop removal coal is unnecessary
Mountaintop removal coal only accounts for about 3% of America’s electricity.
Over a million acres affected
More than one million acres have been surface mined for coal, affecting 40% of the land.
Why End Mountain Top Removal Week is Important
We must take care of our environment. It’s the only one we’ve got! End Mountaintop Removal Week allows us to conserve our environment for present and future generations.
Preserving natural beauty
The rocky mountains of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee shouldn’t lose their striking beauty. Raising awareness about the harmful effects of mountaintop removal helps preserve their natural beauty.
Protecting families and communities
Mountaintop removal pollutes the environment, which affects the health and wellbeing of communities living in these areas. Cancer, congenital disabilities, and cardiovascular diseases are some of the unwelcome side effects caused by destructive mining practices. Campaigning against mountaintop removal protects the environment and the people living in it.
End Mountain Top Removal Week dates