This short 20 minute documentary by Yale Environmental 360 is an “in your face” look at the devastation being allowed to take place in Appalachia. The documentary briefly shows both sides of the mountain top removal issue. I have a hard time believing that the West Virginia Department of Environmental protection has ANYTHING to do with protecting the environment. Randy Huffman is the cabinet secretary for the WV D.E.P. and is appointed by our own Governor Joe Manchin. Mr. Huffman seems to be 100% in favor of mountain top removal as it is considered a “lawful practice”. Numerous violations of the clean water act and clean air act are taking place on a daily basis and more that 1 million acres of Appalachian forests and nearly 2000 miles of streams have been destroyed. Governor Manchin seems to be 100% in favor of mountain top removal as well. He is quoted as saying that 50% of all energy in America is generated from coal and in order for us to stay competitive on a national as well as a global level we must allow this practice.
Dr. Ben Stout of Wheeling Jesuit University, Jack Spardo , a mining health and safety consultant, Dr. Dennis Lemley of Wake Forest University, Ken Hechler, a U.S. Representative (1959-1977) and West Virginia Secretary of State (1985-2001) and James Hauser, a climate scientist, all would disagree with the practice of mountain top removal.
Dr. Stout talks about how the practice of “valley fill” reduces the earth to rubble and is then picked up and dumped into the valleys below. To this, Randy Huffman responds that you cannot put the mountain back the way you found it. Does this sound like someone who should be in any way in control of our Department of Environmental Protection?
Jack Spardo talks about the removal of trees and vegetation causing flooding downstream. To this, Chris Hamilton of the WV Coal Association responds that it is simply “heavy rain” that causes flooding. I think Mike Maynor, resident of Dorothy, WV, would disagree. In 2001, he lost his home to a flash flood asa result of mountain top removal. Jack Spardo claims there have been seven periods of severe flash flooding since the practice began in the late 90’s, causing damage to tens of thousands of homes.
Overall, this film briefly touches on the devastation being allowed in places such as Naoma, Rock Creek, Dorothy and Mud River, WV. However, mountain top removal affects us all. It takes our mountains, takes our homes, kills our streams, ruins our water for future generations, destroys entire communities, pits family against family. The people that live in these communities are faced with horrible decisions. Savetheir homeland or have a job? We absolutely must look at alternatives. Wind and solar can provide well-paying jobs for generations to come. Mountain top removal can only provide jobs for a few years and then the coal companies such as A.T. Massey simply move on and leave the devastation behind. This practice cannot be allowed to continue. Coal is a LIMITED resource. Wind and sun are forever. Alternative energy is not the alternative, it has to happen now. If we don’t do it now, we are not going to survive as a species. THIS IS NOTHING MORE THAN SELF DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR!