Thursday, February 22, 2007

Coal mining in Appalachia

A couple days ago I was pleasantly surprised to hear from one of my long-lost cousins, who is all grown up and in college now. It's always great to reconnect with family members, but I was saddened by the news she had to report. Out in her neck of the woods, (Arkansas), she's involved in organizing efforts to stop coal mining via mountaintop removal in the Appalachian Mountains. I was totally ignorant about this situation, but my cousing Hannah clued me in. Here's what she has to say:

"The facts about the dangers of using coal for electricity to the degree that we do in the U.S. are becoming more and more well known. What is still hidden from the public eye are the horrendous effects that the coal mining industry is having on the residents of the Appalachian Mountain area which is where the industry is almost completely contained. Hundreds of families who can trace their lineage back for generations in the mountain valleys are being bought out of their homes every day to make room for more construction sights. Children sit in schools covered in dust from coal which is boosting asthma and other respiratory diseases tremendously. To mine the coal, the workers literally remove the peaks of the mountains which put a huge amount of wildlife out of their homes and then they put the thousands of pounds of hazardous residue from the filtered coal into pockets of land in the valleys that used to be homes and communities. The way the world can help is to buy energy efficient light bulbs instead of incandescent light bulbs. Another way to help is just to let your voice be heard: write to Senators and Representatives about how you feel about coal mining in the U.S."

It's definitely important for me to remember that there is always a local face to the problems we're facing on a global scale. Countless communities across the world are being polluted very locally by our unsustainable energy practices. To learn more about what's going on in Appalachia, check out the End Mountaintop Removal Action and Resource Center. And buy more compact fluorescent light bulbs. Speaking of CFLs, did you hear that Australia is banning incandescent bulbs and replacing them with CFLs? Read about it on Treehugger.

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