Mountaintop Removal Mining

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Mountaintop coal mining is a surface mining practice involving the removal of mountaintops to expose coal seams, and disposal of the associated mining overburden in adjacent valleys ("valley fills," which occur in steep terrain where there are limited disposal alternatives). Mountaintop coal mining operations are concentrated in eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia, western Virginia, and scattered areas of eastern Tennessee. In 1998, the U.S. Department of Energy estimated that 28.5 billion tons of high quality coal remain in the Appalachia coal mining region. Restricting mountaintop mining to small watersheds could substantially impact the amount of extraction that takes place.
 
Environmental effects include an increase of minerals in the water (leading to less diverse and more pollutant-tolerant species), reduced tree growth, fragmented forests, damaged habitats and others. (Source: EPA / Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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