Mountaintop coal mining at Hale Gap, Va. Michael Temchine for The New York Times
The quick and dirty way to get coal out of the Appalachian mountains is simply to blast the tops off mountains and dump the rubble into valleys and streams. Streams and valleys are obliterated and contaminated. According to John Broder of the New York Times, the practice has been used in Appalachian coal country for 20 years under a cloud of legal and regulatory confusion. No more; the new rules will allow it to continue and expand. Environmental activists say the rule change will lead to accelerated pillage of vast tracts and the obliteration of hundreds of miles of streams in central Appalachia.
"This is a parting gift to the coal industry from this administration," said Joe Lovett, executive director of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment in Lewisburg, W.Va. "What is at stake is the future of Appalachia. This is an attempt to make legal what has long been illegal." ::New York Times