Thursday, July 26, 2018

Mountaintop Mining Is Destroying More Land for Less Coal, Study Finds

Using satellite images, researchers tracked the scars spreading across Appalachia.  They found 3 times more land being stripped per ton of coal than in the 1980s.

More blasting and mining for less coal also raises human health concerns. (Credit: Alan Gignoux/Appalachian Voices) Click to Enlarge.
Strip mining across the mountaintops of Appalachia is scarring as much as three times more land to get a ton of coal than just three decades ago, new research shows.

The data and a series of new maps that track the spread of surface mining across the region suggest that even as the industry has declined, what continues likely has an oversized impact on people and the environment.

If mining companies have to do more blasting and digging for the same amount of coal, that means more dust in the air and more pollution in streams, said Appalachian Voices Programs Director Matt Wasson, who worked on the study with researchers from Duke University, West Virginia University, Google and SkyTruth.
The study, published online in PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed journal, also provided what Duke researcher Andrew Pericak described as the first year-by-year mapping showing the spread of mountaintop mining across the region.
Concerns About Human Health and Climate
Coal production across the United States slid in recent years as aging coal-fired plants were shut down and replaced by new ones burning cheaper natural gas and as state and federal policies promoted cleaner power sources.

The Trump administration, vowing to revive the coal industry, has repealed an Obama-era rule that sought to protect streams from damage due to mining, and it has been considering ways to increase coal burning, but there has been little change in production in Appalachia.

Read more at Mountaintop Mining Is Destroying More Land for Less Coal, Study Finds

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