11/27/07 Mountaintop Removal Mining


*click here to listen to this show (might take a minute to load)

Ever wonder where the electricity in your home comes from?  Go to this website, type in your zipcode, and within seconds you can see the power plants on your grid.  They’ll also tell you if they use any coal taken from mountaintop removal mines, and show you where those mines are.

We have some pictures to go along with the show, because this is something you have to see to fully grasp, courtesy of photographer Antrim Caskey.  She took the picture above, and you can click here for more of her pictures from West Virginia.

Many of the guests who’ll be on this program will also be at The Charles Theater tonight (Tuesday) for a screening of Black Diamonds at 7pm.  The documentary, directed by Catherine Pancake, “charts the escalating drama in Appalachian states surrounding the increase in massive mountaintop removal coal mines that supply cheap coal to the US and Europe. The film documents one of the most radical, environmental grassroots movements in the US today as impoverished local citizens fight to end the destruction of their mountain vistas, communities, and culture.”  It’s a fundraiser for Coal River Mountain Watch, and there’s more info here.

Here’s the rundown on the guests:

Jack Spadaro – former Superintendent of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy

Bill Rainey – President of the West Virginia Coal Association

Patty Sebok – from Coal River Mountain Watch

Lorelei Scarbro – from Coal River Mountain Watch

Maria Gunnoe – organizer for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition


5 Responses

  1. Great show. I would recomend anyone interested to go to the Google Earth program (free download) where they have loads of information and images on mountaintop removal. See for yourself a bird’s eye view of the destruction of these ancient peaks. It was fitting to have this show on a Baltimore station as our history and development has been inexorably tied to Appalachia since the beginning. From the National Road, The B&O, coal shipping and exporting,wartime migration, to the current surge in mountain tourism our region and the mountains to our west have a long relationship.
    The Appalachian Mountains are some of the most biologically diverse areas of our country and are a huge carbon sequestering area as well.
    This is very important and thank you WYPR .

  2. We’ve been getting lots of emails in response to this show. Here’s one from Siegfried:

    “I was unable to come on your very interesting and timely show. Under the pretext of energy crisis these mining companies have a free rain. I have been vacationing in W.V. for the 30 some years and first I have seen strip mining results and now mountain top removal. Not only does it change the topography but also they are climatic changes. The reforestation will take decades before there is an effect. It is not sensationalism which brings me to be interested but the unbridled greed for profits by the mining companies. Why does the coal mine owner spin doctors comment on the mining accident in Utah? The local population are hadworking people and life in these communities is not easy due to harsh winter weather. The UTAH mining accident could have prevented if not for the mining used . These miners are buried forever.”

    Here’s one from Elizabeth:

    “Hi – great show, Mark. I want to praise the brave women who are there to speak to their personal experience of this tragic situation. There’s one correction I would like to make. Your guest expert in mining stated that the reason that coal companies are moving mountain-top removal is because it is more “cost-efficient.” The only reason that it is more cost-efficient is that our society is bearing the true cost of mountain-top renewal. The environmental, social, health, and community economic costs that WE are bearing is the reason that mountain-top removal is “cost-efficient.” I’d like your expert guest to talk about this – how do we take what economists call “externalities” and force these companies to bear the costs, or internalize them. I’d like this method of mining stopped entirely. In the meantime, let’s price it as it should be priced and see how many companies prefer to keep at it. One of your callers commented on this being “capitalism.” This ability of the mining companies to shift their costs onto the rest of us is a pretty timid version of how we should be running “true capitalism.” Thanks – Eli

    Here’s one more from Anne:

    “Thank you for your show. I grew up in Cumberland, Md. and I have been shocked by the Allegeny Aggregate Company’s demolition of the mountain between Flintstone and Cumberland, overlooking Rocky Gap. I don’t know how this can be legal. It looks like a bomb has hit the area. Thanks again for your focus on this problem.”

  3. IMountain top removal is a crime against creation of beauty and a crime towards the inhabitants of this beauitful part of our country

  4. Thank you for doing this very important show. We all want to also thank you for helping pack the Charles Theatre for the documentary Tuesday night. We had around 130 people show up. The interest and concern from the people there was high. Not only did we raise a substantial amount of money for Coal River Mountain Watch, more importantly was the opportunity give this issue the attention it deserves and to let those outside of the state of West Virginia know the truth about what is happening there. That which is known cannot be unknown. As a Baltimore-area resident who grew up in the coalfields of southern West Virginia, I believe positive action and activism from those outside of West Virginia is what is needed to bring national attention to this devastating problem.

  5. Mountain top mining breaks my heart and makes me just plain mad. After hearing this show, I went online and switched to 100% wind generated electricity via Commerce Energy. I was surprised that 100% wind generated electricty does not cost that much more than the electricty we’ve been getting from BGE that is generated from coal, nuclear, etc. I urge others who are concerned about mountain top mining to switch to alternative sources of electricity if possible.

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