Saturday, December 15, 2007

"Almost Heaven, West Virginia"?

Do you have any idea what is happening in West Virginia these days? Check out this sobering slide show featuring the "mountaintop removal" method of coal extraction -- along with several residents turned activists desperately fighting to save their land and their own lives. Be sure to click "captions" on the bottom right to read the devastating details.

To extract large quantities of coal, companies clear-cut forests (sometimes without even harvesting the wood), blast away up to 1,000 vertical feet of rock, fill valleys with mountain rubble, turn headwater streams into chemical spillways, and poison the groundwater. The totals are staggering -- 470 mountaintops blown apart, 800 square miles of forest denuded and leveled, 675 ponds filled with toxic coal sludge. And the government predicts the destruction will triple by 2012, only five years from now.

Are we willing to sacrifice Appalachia -- the land and its people --to sate our appetite for fossil fuels?

John Denver would surely weep.*

* For more about "Take Me Home, Country Roads" -- including the original verse about "naked ladies" -- click here.


Jennifer said...

Sadly, yes, I think we are.

Sandra Loves Mountains said...

We can stop it and we can make a difference. Learn more about mountaintop removal and how you can help at One of the things you can do is ask your member of Congress to co-sponsor the Clean Water Protection Act, HR 2169. If you need more info, you can email me at

Anonymous said...

I just can't help but play a bit of devil's advocate here. You are all missing an important irony here, and since I live in WV, I can talk about it.

MTR is probably the single greatest intentional man-made disaster in the history of man, but phrases like "reap what you sow" and "they suffer least who suffer what they choose" come to mind.

We HAD a Clean Water Act! Remember? King W essentially had it repealed, and if it hadn't been for our fair state's electoral votes going to him in the stolen election of 2000, MTR would not be happening.

Do you think Al Gore would have allowed Don Blankenship to rape the land the way he has in recent years?

Let's face it. West Virginians failed to educate themselves in the election of 2000, and they're paying the price for it now.

They let themselves be swayed by hot button, non-issues like gay marriage, gun ownership and flag burning.

If my fellow countrymen had bothered to properly inform themselves, none of this would be happening.

Angry? You bet I am! I'll never forgive my neighbors for letting this happen. MTR is the tip of the iceberg. How about Iraq? The price of gasoline? The state of education? Health care? The assault on our liberties in the guise of "security"?

People better start paying better attention!

Anonymous (for obvious reasons)