Mountaintop-removal mining devastates Appalachia, but residents fight back
Most folks know coal mining is a dirty and dangerous business, triggering everything from miner’s lung to deadly accidents. But the mountaintop-removal mining increasingly common in Appalachia poses dangers not just to miners but to whole communities already struggling to get by. In recent years, this hugely destructive process — whereby the tops of mountains are sliced off to get at coal within, and the resulting rubble dumped in nearby streams and valleys — has triggered lethal flooding, spurred a rash of illnesses in school kids, and even unloosed a massive boulder that tumbled down a hillside into a home and crushed a 3-year-old while he slept. Powerful coal companies resist any reforms, but fed-up locals are fighting back.