By Rebecca Garofano & Ryan Weberling:
Mountaintop removal is a method of coal mining used in Appalachia since the 1970s. As an extension of conventional strip mining techniques, it has become an integral part of U.S. energy economy as a fuel for generating electricity.
West Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, and parts of Ohio, Virginia, and Pennsylvania are locations where this mining technique is practiced. The impact of mountaintop removal can be devastating. Aside from grave environmental consequences, nearby homes and communities are also effected.
The U.S. EPA writes: “Mountaintop removal/valley fill is a mining practice where the tops of mountains are removed, exposing the seams of coal. Mountaintop removal can involve removing 500 feet or more of the summit to get at buried seams of coal. The earth from the mountaintop is then dumped in the neighboring valleys.”
On the social impact, the U.S. EPA also writes: “Dynamite blasts needed to splinter rock strata are so strong they crack the foundations and walls of houses. Mining dries up an average of 100 wells a year and contaminates water in others. In many coalfield communities, the purity and availability of drinking water are keen concerns.”
To raise awareness, Sugar City (19 Wadsworth Avenue) will be hosting a Mountain Justice Hoedown on Thursday, November 11, from 7:00pm to 9:30pm. Local bluegrass band Erie Lackawanna Railroad will open the evening, and Dave Cooper, a representative of the non-profit organization Mountaintop Removal Roadshow, will be joining us to share more about this issue. Following Dave’s talk, local musicians City Fiddle will be joined by caller Joe Kwiatkowski to host contra/square dancing lessons.
Buffalo receives power from a total of seven coal-fired power plants directly connected to mountaintop removal. To learn more about these issues and contribute to advocacy being done throughout the United States, consider joining us for dancing and good music.