From the Coal Fields to Hay Road
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.