Wednesday, June 4, 2008

NC Move to Ban Coal From Mountaintop Removal Mining

Kudos to North Carolina State Rep Pricey Harrison. Let's all hope that North Carolina leads the way in eliminating this environmentally destructive and hazardous health practice.

excerpt from:
NC May Be First to Say No to Buying Coal from
Mountaintop Removal Mining

by Kate Sheppard, for AlterNet

Last week, North Carolina State Rep. Pricey Harrison introduced legislation in the state House that would ban the burning of coal obtained through mountaintop-removal mining. If it passes, North Carolina would become the first state in the nation with such a law.

The mining method isn't practiced in North Carolina, but 61 percent of the state's power comes from coal; North Carolina is second only to Georgia in the amount of MTR-mined coal it burns. According to Appalachian Voices, a group devoted to ending the controversial and destructive mining practice, 13 power plants in North Carolina buy coal from mountaintop-removal mine sites. Most of it comes from nearby West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia.

MTR blasts off mountaintops for the purpose of extracting coal, wiping out biodiverse forest habitats and permanently scarring the world's oldest mountains. The debris left over from the blasts is usually dumped in nearby streams; according to the U.S. EPA, more than 700 miles of streams have been completely buried by mountaintop-removal debris, and thousands of others have been damaged. MTR also causes myriad health problems for nearby residents, in part because mine waste contaminates water supplies.

Harrison, a Democrat who represents Guilford County, told Grist she learned about the hazards of the practice by doing a flyover of West Virginian mountains that had been destroyed by MTR, and by watching the documentary Mountain Top Removal. Since there aren't regions in her state likely to be affected by the practice, banning the burning of MTR coal seemed like the most logical way to take action.

"I thought this was a pretty abhorrent practice," says Harrison. "[I] wanted to send a signal to folks in West Virginia and Kentucky that we object to the way they're being treated and we're not going to put up with it."

In the following video clip, Amy Goodman speaks with West Virginia Grandfather Ed Wiley about his battle against the mountaintop removal mining which has described as "the government-sanctioned bombing of Appalachia."

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