Essay on Mountaintop Mining and Environmental and Energy Policy

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Mountaintop mining has been practiced in the United States since the 1960s, primarily in the Appalachian Mountains. The process involves removing all tress from the site, then the topsoil, and then using explosives to remove the remaining soil and rock to reveal coal. The coal is removed and processed, and then the mountaintop is “reclaimed” with soil or an appropriate substitute, and sometimes replanted.6 While mountaintop mining in the Appalachians is only a small percentage of coal produced by the United States, the issues surrounding it are complex and wide-ranging. Some of the many issues raised with mountaintop mining are: high unemployment (due to the lessened man power needed to operate the mining machinery), deforestation,…show more content…
They conduct impact studies, recommend legislation, evaluate regulations and standards, and work with other branches of the federal government on lawsuits. Recently, they have rejected permits that would contaminate or destroy water sources, and enacted fines against pollution violators.8,16 Directly in opposition to the EPA’s regulation are the coal companies mining in the Appalachians. Some of the biggest players in the industry are Alpha Natural Resources (formerly known as Massey Energy), and Consol Energy. Some coal mining companies are more open to higher environmental standards than others. In West Virginia the non-profit Coal River Mountain Watch is a community advocate group that work to expose the injustices and hazards of mountaintop mining.6 Also in West Virginia is the Mountain Party, a political party affiliated with the national Green Party, whose main platform is to end mountaintop mining.12 A major regulatory player is the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, who issues many of the permits that allow for mountaintop mining and waste removal practices. The people who live in the Appalachians are a majorly invested group. They on one hand rely on mining companies for jobs and financial assistance and support (many bring in medical professionals and other services to communities that otherwise couldn’t afford them), but on the other their very livelihoods are
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