I’ve long intended on writing something about mountaintop removal mining, ever since reading Erik Reece’s article in Harper’s in 2005 (Ted Williams also wrote a great article in Audubon). This coal-extraction method is unbelievably environmentally devastating in many ways. The American Bird Conservancy has a whole page on how this mining threatens birds, including the declining Cerulean Warbler, whose core breeding range coincides with coal mining areas where this horrendous activity takes place.
The World’s Fair has a whole series of posts on mountaintop removal mining, and has most recently posted a link to a fantastic resource: What is My Connection to Mountaintop Removal? Plug in your zip code, and it will show you the nearest coal-fired power plants to you (from which your electricity likely comes from) with full descriptions, and the direct connections to the mines where coal from that plant has come from. On the resulting Google Map, you can click on one of the mines and get photos and a description.
My grid revealed connections to six mines. The closest one, for illustrative purposes, is in Beckley, WV. The Google Map is staggering: an enormous raped area. It made me sick.
The web site also has many suggestions about what you can do to help, including a quick and easy letter to your local power company. As in all these issues, conservation is the most immediate and effective action we can take. Type in your zip above, and see if this doesn’t prod you into action.