Editorial: West Virginia Now Lives With What’s Left Behind

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the Charleston Gazette:Researchers from Duke University confirmed what every West Virginian knows: Mountaintop removal mining has flattened Appalachia, decapitating crests and filling valleys with “spoil,” creating flatter topography. The Duke report, published in Environmental Science and Technology, says: “The physical effects of mountaintop mining are … similar to volcanic eruptions where the entire landscape is fractured, deepened and decoupled from prior landscape evolution trajectories, effectively resetting the clock on landscape and ecosystem co-evolution.” The New York Times says the Duke study confirms that the coal industry created “a grossly disfigured landscape” where “rubble has clogged countless streams and waterways, and devastated the Appalachian environment with pollutants, rerouting rain torrents through homes and hamlets below.” Duke researchers say the destruction is permanent, never to be reversed. West Virginians simply must live with the damage. Researchers emphasize how the scale of the damage is different from previous experiences. It doesn’t compare to deforestation or urbanization, for example, things that mostly happen on the surface. The central Appalachian regions they studied are 40 percent flatter than before mountaintop removal, and those changes will continue to influence the state’s topography. “We have data that the water quality impacts can last at least 30 years, but the geomorphology impacts might last thousands of years,” lead author Matt Ross said in a news release about the study. “Once you have these flat plateaus, it sets up a whole new erosion machine and a whole new way that the landscape will be shaped into the future.” One of the pitches for mountaintop removal was that the state would be left with more flat spots to lure future development and prosperity. Those lures aren’t getting any bites. Gov. Tomblin brought up the issue again in his State of the State address. The governor wants to put industry onto the mammoth Hobet 21 mine site on the Boone-Lincoln county line. He said it could become the state’s largest industrial park. However, commercial developer Howard Swint wrote in a Gazette-Mail commentary that the remote, barren, contaminated site hardly invites industry — except for the possibility of power generation. Placing wind turbines and solar collectors atop the mesa, he wrote, could create an electricity source. Swint even speculated that deep wells might tap into geothermal heat to produce more power. It is an appealing idea. West Virginia cannot undo the coal industry’s dismantling of beautiful mountains, and one way or another, now lives with what is left behind. Gazette editorial: Forty percent flatter and still changing Editorial: West Virginia Now Lives With What’s Left Behindlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *