Thursday, March 14, 2013

West Virginia Coal Mining, Mountaintop Removal, & Pancake's Strange as This Weather Has Been

From yesterday's Huffington Post editorial "Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Poisons Appalachia's Waterways:"
I remember the first time I saw a mountaintop-removal coal mining site - Kayford Mountain in southern West Virginia. Those images have never left my mind - a barren landscape where there was once lush forest. And right around the destroyed site, homes where people were trying to live despite having the world blown up next door. Their lives are never the same when a mountaintop-removal coal mine starts blasting. One major loss for these families is clean water... Pollution from mountaintop-removal mining has poisoned many of our streams making them dangerous for certain fish and other aquatic life. 
Mountaintop-removal is the process by which companies use explosives to remove the peaks of Appalachian mountains in order to get at the coal underneath. They then dump millions of tons of rubble and toxic waste into the streams and valleys below the mining sites.

For a novel about West Virginia coal mining and mountaintop removal, read Ann Pancake's Strange as This Weather Has Been:
Set in present day West Virginia, Ann Pancake’s debut novel, Strange As This Weather Has Been, tells the story of a coal mining family -- —a couple and their four children -- —living through the latest mining boom and dealing with the mountaintop removal and strip mining that is ruining what is left of their mountain life. As the mine turns the mountains to slag and wastewater, workers struggle with layoffs and children find adventure in the blasted moonscape craters.

UPDATE:  a longer review can be found at the In This Light blog.

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