Catherine Porter toured West Virginia and writes an astonishing article in the Star about mountaintop removal coal mining. It doesn't take too many people to mine coal this way; in 1950 there were 120,000 coal miners and now there are only 21,000. So the miners aren't working, they are watching, as the landscape changes around them.
"We're mountain people. You don't understand our connection with the land," says [former miner] Gibson, who traces his heritage back 120 years to this very spot. He had never ventured beyond the company store, halfway down the mountain, until he was 11. "We didn't live on the land, we lived with it."
But even though so few people work in the industry now, that doesn't stop the companies that make and service the machinery that displaced the miners from trying to convince those who are left that coal is wonderful. Steve Walker of Walker machinery says the locals opposing the mines "range from uninformed citizens to eco-terrorists." He continues:
"I don't know what these people want. There's a religion now of global warming, that man (?) has caused everything. It's hard to understand where all of this has come from in the last several years. The water coming off these mines today, going into rivers, is cleaner, almost completely cleaner than the water that's already there."
see also Planet Green: Find Out Your Connection to Mountaintop Removal and TreeHugger: Majority of American Public Opposes Mountaintop Removal