|What is Mountaintop Mining?|
|Tuesday - September 01, 2009|
MOUNTAINTOP MINING is simply coal mining that occurs at or near the topmost portion of a mountain. There have been various emotional statements in the press about this form of mining that are neither based on fact nor supported by the truth.
Surface mining methods are essentially the same as highway construction.
Valley fills are areas where the rock and dirt from mining excavation is placed according to a plan designed by engineers and approved by government agencies. The fills usually occur in dry stream beds of what are known as ephemeral or intermittent streams – streams that flow only when it rains.
Contrary to what is portrayed in the press, the amount of actual stream loss from fills is minimal. In other words, where most valley fills are placed, there is no actual stream.
Far from the destructiveness portrayed in the mass media, mining operations have actually helped improve habitat for wildlife in Appalachia. Today, we are once again seeing elk and wild horses on former mountaintop mining sites.
Perhaps most important, mountaintop mining has also created numerous sites for new schools, hospitals, shopping centers, parks, golf courses, housing, airports, industry, agriculture and timber – providing southern West Virginia valuable sites for sustainable economic development.
Here is a partial list of sites in West Virginia and Kentucky:
In Kentucky: (A partial list)
i. Federal Correctional Institute
ii. East Kentucky Correctional Complex
iii. Medium Security Prison Knot County
iv. Otter Creek Correctional Center
v. Juvenile Boot Camp
5. Facilities –
i. Clements Job Corps Center
ii. Army National Guard Training Center
iii. Six solid waste landfills
iv. Hazard Amory; jail and state police barracks
6. Farms –
i. Mapco/Morehead Agriculture Center
ii. Martin County Coal Corp. Farm
iii. DNR Brangus Farm
iv. Hawk Farm
7. Industrial/Commercial –
i. Clay Industrial Park
ii. Coalfields Industrial ParkThese are all sites and facilities that would likely have been impossible to build were it not for the availability of mountaintop mine lands.