Mountaintop removal

Mountaintop removal / valley fill coal mining (MTR) is an extreme form of strip mining and could easily be termed ‘mountain range removal’. Mountaintop removal /valley fill mining destroys  ecosystems (ecocide) and completely transforms often biologically diverse temperate forests into biologically barren moonscapes. During this extremely destructive process, forests are clear-cut, frequently scraping away topsoil, lumber, understory herbs such as ginseng and goldenseal, and all other forms of life can’t get out of the way in time. Wildlife habitat is destroyed and vegetation loss often leads to floods and landslides. Following this ‘clearance’, explosives blast up to 800 feet off mountaintops and then gigantic shovels dig into the soil and trucks haul it away or push it into adjacent valleys. A dragline then digs into the rock to expose the coal. These machines can weigh up to 8 million pounds with a base as big as a gymnasium and as tall as a 20-story building. These machines allow coal companies to hire fewer workers. A small crew can tear apart a mountain in less than a year, working night and day. Giant machines then scoop out the layers of coal, dumping millions of tons of “overburden” – the former mountaintops – into the narrow adjacent valleys, thereby creating valley fills.