The Sierra Club
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
☰ Menu
 

Mining: Destroying Mountains

mining

Mining our Mountains

In Appalachia, mining companies literally blow the tops off mountains to reach thin seams of coal. They then dump millions of tons of rubble and toxic waste into the streams and valleys below the mining sites.

This destructive practice, known as mountaintop-removal mining, has damaged or destroyed nearly 2,000 miles of streams and threatens to destroy 1.4 million acres of mountaintops and forests by 2020. The mining poisons drinking water, destroys beautiful, biodiverse forests and wildlife habitat, increases the risk of flooding, and wipes out entire communities.

Who Gets Hurt

Mountaintop-removal mining pollutes waterways and allows toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, selenium, and arsenic to leach into local water supplies that Appalachia's people rely on. But the danger isn't limited to drinking water. Mountaintop removal also causes air pollution that affects communities for miles around. Many of the toxins that pollute mountaintop-removal sites are carcinogens, and cancer rates are twice as high for people who live near mountaintop-removal sites.

The Future of Mountaintop Removal

Ending mountaintop-removal mining and transitioning to clean energy will benefit Appalachia by creating good jobs in the clean-energy and tourism industries and by improving public health.

Next