Mountaintop Removal Mining in the Appalachian Region
The process of mountaintop coal mining has recently attracted considerable attention across all stakeholders and non-stakeholders, particularly in the United States. From environmental conservationists to the government and members of the society, the ongoing coal mining process has elicited significant controversy due to its destructive nature. Despite it being a technologically superior procedure vis-à-vis the extraction of coal via underground mining, mountaintop removal succeeds in eliciting more negative implications on the natural environment, especially in the Appalachian Mountains terrains of eastern Tennessee, eastern Kentucky, southwest Virginia, and West Virginia. In fact, the documentary, Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy of Mountaintop Removal Mining, provides an exhibit that details the social and environmental implications of the process as well as the standing impact on the terrain’s waterways and forestry.
Based on the presentation by Yale360, the respective process for coal mining should cease. This reason is attributable to the destructive effects it imposes on the environment. It is clear that mountaintop removal poses dire consequences for the overall natural setting as well as the communities that occupy the respective area using the Appalachia setting as an effective illustration. Rather than extract the coal via the underground mining process, mountaintop removal utilizes explosive charges as well as massive machinery to destroy the mountain hence attaining the respective mineral. The severity of the method is further identified by the number of terrains that have undergone significant destruction since its application in the Appalachian region. Accordingly, over 500 mountaintops have faced devastation. In addition to these numbers, the mountaintop removal process has led to the deforestation of over a million acres of naturally growing forests.
Because of its considerable yet negative implications on the natural environment, mountaintop removal relates correspondingly to the notion of environmental footprint. Simply, the respective process assumes a role in the increase of greenhouse gas emanations. Apart from being responsible for the loss of habitats, destruction of landscapes, and the pollution of water throughout the Appalachia region, the process in question is also accountable for the emissions that are apparently correlated with the respective mining operations. In fact, the increase in coal mining has reinforced the utilization of traditional or aged coal-based power plants, which add to the increased percentage of greenhouse gas emanations. This is also attributed to the mineral, coal, which acts as a significant energy resource and an end-contributing factor to pollution centered on global warming. As such, the process of mountaintop removal is attributed to the increase in the carbon footprint due to the use of coal.
In terms of environmental externalities, the process of mountaintop coal mining is responsible for the establishment of costs that the society bears. Such costs largely constitute the aftermath effects that arise from the implementation of the process. For instance, environmental externalities may comprise the creation of sludge pools, significant rates of deforestation, and general destruction of the mountain terrain. Additionally, other externalities may arise in the form of health costs that are imposed on the encompassing community and the natural environment as well. Because of these externalities, which are imposed on the environment in the Appalachian region, the prevalent problem should be seen as an environmental justice issue due to the unfairness inflicted on a peaceful natural environment. To this end, the procedure, mountaintop coal mining does not possess significant positive externalities and implications for the Appalachian region.