Monday, March 31, 2008

From the Coal Fields to Hay Road

We're a long way from the coal fields of Appalachia, where mountains are cut down like trees through the horrific practice of mountaintop removal.
Google Earth now presents a feature that demonstrates the connection between the ruined landscapes of Appalachia and the power plants that burn the coal to power our homes and businesses.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. announced the new service last month:
If the American people could see what I have seen from the air and ground during my many trips to the coalfields of Kentucky and West Virginia: leveled mountains, devastated communities, wrecked economies and ruined lives, there would be a revolution in this country. Thanks to Google Earth, you can now visit coal country without ever having to leave your home.
You can go to the application, enter your zip code, and see the connection between the coal mines and your neighborhood coal plant. What seemed like a distant and vaguely disturbing practice can now be brought a little closer to home.
For instance, the Edge Moor coal plant, located on Hay Road in Wilmington and operated by Conectiv Energy Supply, buys coal from MAC #68 in West Virgina. MAC #68 is located near the communities of Ragland and Sara Ann, whose residents are powerless to regulate the practice at this and other mines.
Mountaintop removal is strip mining on steroids; mountains, forests and streams are simply wiped from the face of the earth. The results are visible from earth orbit.
As I wrote last year, the Bush administration has clarified the rule governing the practice so that dumping rocks and soil in stream beds isn't considered pollution. One can hardly be said to be polluting a stream that has ceased to exist.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Nick Fernandez said...

Thanks for this. It was pretty horrifying to see just how much of the central Appalachians now appears silver instead of green, from space as a result of this mining. I attended a seminar at Power Shift '07 with residents speaking out against these attrocious practices.
As bad as this is, the footprint from the Alberta Oil Sands is far worse. Try using google maps and moving up to West Central or Northeast Alberta. The scale of the earth-raping is mind-numbing.

12:13 AM, April 01, 2008  
Blogger TommyWonk said...

Thanks Nick. I was at Power Shift, where I spoke to a handful of really smart students in a small basement seminar room.

The oil sands up north have the additional disadvantage of being very expensive to extract.

The scars we are inflicting on the planet are out of sight for most of us, even though they are visible from space.

8:29 AM, April 01, 2008  
Anonymous Nick Fernandez said...

Haha, yeah, I was one of those students.

3:29 PM, April 01, 2008  

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