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Re: E-M:/ Love mountains? Hate coal!



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Enviro-Mich message from Doug Welker <dwelker@up.net>
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Robert-

I can think of several reasons why the issue is often more severe in the Appalachians:

1. Higher rainfall. This can result in
a. More flash floods, landslides, etc.
b. More acid drainage from waste rock and mines
2. Higher sulfur coal in the Appalachians, resulting in increased water acidity
3. Typically, steeper terrain in the Appalachians, resulting in more flash floods, landslides, etc.
4. There are fewer places for Appalachian folks to live. To live close to a mine, one must almost always live in a narrow valley. I worked for a number of years for the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey (a state agency), and pored over every topo map that covers the state. In most of southwestern WV, where the majority of the mountaintop removal takes place in that state, the only reasonably flat areas (until mountaintop removal occurs!) are the narrow floodplains of streams. Exposing excavated rock and haul roads to heavy rainfall causes excessively high stream levels, and damage to homes, roads, etc. In addition, the streams are often so acidic that they contain no game fish, and if you try to swim in them your eyes sting horribly. Whole counties are like this. In the west, there are plenty of flat areas near the mines for housing, and there are plenty of clean streams around.


See the attached topo map of Red Jacket WV for typical SW WV topography. The purple stipled pattern shows strip mines. Note the ringed pattern surrounding the hill whose summit is 2031 feet in the western part of the map. There is most likely valuable coal still left under that summit and above the uppermost strip mine. Removing the "country rock" (mostly sandstone and shale) above that strip mine would enable them to get to that coal more easily. Likewise, some of the lower coal seams (represented by lower strip mines) might be candidates as well.

Much of eastern KY is very similar, as well as parts of western VA and even SE OH, though the hills in OH is lower. Farther north, most current coal mines are underground mines, which have their own problems (e.g., subsidence. This damages homes and roads, and even caused a popular state park lake to drain into the ground near the SW corner of PA. The coal company has made no effort to deal with the issue.).

` -doug-


At 12:18 AM 12/1/2007, Robert Isaac wrote:
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Enviro-Mich message from "Robert Isaac" <rjisaac@gmail.com>
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 > Is
 > one method less destructive to the environment than another?

I would classify the western strip/pit mines to be just as bad as
blowing a hill up in the south.

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Doug Welker 26344 Tauriainen Road Pelkie MI 49958 dwelker@up.net (906) 338-2680

Never underestimate the power of human greed.


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