Effects of Strip Mining on the Appalachian Environment Essay

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Coal mining, in particular, strip mining has become the latest casualty of the growing green movement in the United States. What is strip mining? Encyclopædia Britannica Online defines strip mining as the removal of vegetation, soil, and rock above a layer of coal, followed by the removal of the coal itself (“strip”). Most Americans don’t realize the impact this material of biological origin that can be used as a source of energy (“fossil”), or fossil fuel, has on their everyday lives or the nation’s economy. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the mining industry directly employs some fifty thousand Americans with nearly half that number working in the more specific field of strip mining, or mountain top removal…show more content…
Deforestation’s accompaniment is erosion. Since much of strip mined land lacks proper restoration, weather causes further loss of soil and vital nutrients needed for native vegetation to grow. “Mountain Top Mining and Valley Fills Report” published by the EPA cites KA Harper and others educated and conducting studies in the fields of biology, environmental studies, and renewable sources. According to Harper, the change in mineral content of land affected by surface mining prohibits growth of indigenous plant life and allows foreign plant life to invade, changing the areas ecosystem (Harper). Water contamination is the next major concern of environmental groups. The Environmental Protection Agency, the governmental regulatory agency created in 1970 to manage the enforcement of environmental policy, states its concerns in a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2009 (United). Specifically addressing mines in West Virginia and Kentucky, the EPA expressed serious concerns over water pollution from strip mining (“EPA”). The rupture of an ash dike at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant in Roane County, TN on December 22, 2008 granted credibility to the EPA’s concerns. In an article published by in Environmental Health Perspectives, Rhitu Chatterjee comments on the poisonous substances contained in ash produced from processing coal, listing
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