Mountaintop Removal, When Mountains Move, National Geographic: Leveled Mountain In The Snow

Layers of flattened land on a mine site from an airplane view.

Snow accentuates the contours of a flattened, freshly cut mountaintop removal site in southwestern W.V. at Cantenary Coal near Cabin Creek. Mountaintop removal is a mining practice where the tops of mountains are blasted away to expose the seams of coal underneath.

A much as 500 feet or more of a mountain summit may be leveled. The earth and rock from the mountaintop is then dumped into the neighboring valleys.

According to Appalachian Voices, an environmental non-profit that focuses on coal’s impact in Appalachia, “Mountaintop removal has a devastating impact on the economy, ecology, and communities of Appalachia.”

Analysis from a study in 2009 that Appalachian Voices commissioned along with Natural Resources Defense Council in 2009 shows that 1.2 million acres have been mined for coal. “To date, over 500 mountains have been leveled, and nearly 2,000 miles of precious Appalachian headwater streams have been buried and polluted by mountaintop removal.”