Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining:

Mountaintop removal not only harms the environment but also people as well.

ELLEN MAPHRUS lives and writes beside the May River in her native Carolina lowcountry and beneath the Madison Mountains in western Montana. She studied under esteemed poet and author of Deliverance, James Dickey, who was her mentor and Graduate Director for the MFA she earned at the University of South Carolina. Click to read her brief tribute published in the special issue of Apostrophe dedicated to Dickey after his death in 1997. She was also mentored by her beloved friend Pat Conroy, who wrote the foreword to Untying the Moon.

NICKOLE BROWN’s books include her debut, Sister, a novel-in-poems published by Red Hen Press in 2007, and Fanny Says, published by BOA Editions in 2015. She received her MFA from The Vermont College of Fine Arts, studied literature at Oxford University as an English Speaking Union Scholar, and was the editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the Kentucky Arts Council. She worked at the independent, literary press, Sarabande Books, for ten years, and was the National Publicity Consultant for Arktoi Books and the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. She has taught creative writing at the University of Louisville, Bellarmine University, and for four years was an Assistant Professor at University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Currently, she’s on faculty at the low-residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Murray State and teaches every summer at the Writing Workshops in Greece. She is also the Editor for the Marie Alexander Series in Prose Poetry at White Pine Press. She lives with her wife, poet Jessica Jacobs, in Asheville, NC. Photo by Joli Livaudais

Events such as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the fall of the British Empire and subsequent removal from India, the emergence of Pakistan as a self-determined nation, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks are such events....

Beginning in the 1970’s a new form of coal mining, mountaintop removal, was invented.

To understand what the poor are up against in Appalachia, you must understand , the latest and most extreme version of strip mining in which the tops of the mountains are blown away to gain easy access to the coal. This became a predominant form of mining in the mid-1990s, when the emission standards were strengthened. While this may have been a good thing for the rest of the country, it was devastating for the coalfields of Central Appalachia. The new standards, enacted to protect the environment by reducing toxic air emissions, acid rain, and urban air pollution, had the unexpected, ironic effect of decimating thousands of acres of Central Appalachian forests and streams through MTR. Low-sulfur coal was needed to meet the more stringent emission requirements, and the Central Appalachian coalfields would find the extraction of its coal by MTR exacerbated as a direct response to this need.

Here is a brief overview on what mountaintop removal is.

Tucked away in hollers throughout Central Appalachia, mountaintop removal has only recently received significant press coverage as the knowledge of global climate change becomes more pervasive and the scrutiny of coal's impacts becomes more mainstream. In the southern West Virginia coalfields where my study, , is based, mountaintop removal is now a predominant method of strip mining. This allows coal companies quicker and cheaper access to millions of tons of coal while effectively eliminating the most expensive cost of doing business—labor. The average MTR mine employs eighty-nine people for an average of ten years. The average underground mine can employ upwards of three-hundred people for decades. So far, mountaintop removal has destroyed 450 mountains and, according to a federal environmental impact statement, by 2013 will have damaged or destroyed 2,400 miles of streams.

Mountaintop removal is something that is happening every day.

The first step in mountaintop removal is the clearing of any vegetation and top soil.

TERRY ROBERTS’ direct ancestors have lived in the mountains of Western North Carolina since the time of the Revolutionary War. His family farmed in the Big Pine and Anderson Cove sections of Madison County for generations and is also prominent in the Madison County town of Hot Springs, the setting for both A Short Time to Stay Here and That Bright Land. Born and raised near Weaverville, North Carolina, Roberts is the Director of the National Paideia Center and lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

In the 1830, the Removal Act went into effect.

Mountaintop removal (MTR) mining, a major form of coal mining in West Virginia and Kentucky, is controversial because of its environ­mental impacts. New research studies are beginning to link environmental impacts of MTR mining to adverse outcomes in community health, raising questions about whether the benefits of this technology come at too high a health cost.


Video embedded · Mountaintop removal for mining is a very intense form of mining. Learn all of the pros and cons associated with this practice.

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 mining (Average)....

The Appalachian region is home to one of the oldest and most biologically diverse mountain systems on the continent

The Encyclopedia Britannica defines strip mining as the removal of vegetation, soil, and rock above a layer of coal, followed by the removal of the coal (strip).

known as mountaintop removal, ..

In Stage Three, the final stage, massive buyouts of homeowners and businesses take place, intense depopulation occurs, and migration escalates and soars. The coal company essentially gobbles up the community as MTR expands, consumes the surrounding land, and displaces residents. Once established, Stage Three cements the company in the role of destroyer. This stage is complete when all members of the community have been removed and the community itself is dissolved, with all associated local businesses and schools closed.

Ecological Impacts of Mountaintop Removal – …

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”).