Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining
50% of U.S. electricity comes from the burning of coal. There are varying grades of coal with older coal proving more energy when burned. In the U.S., most of the older, better grade coal has already been mined out via conventional mining methods. This leaves only the lower-grade coal, which produces less energy by volume, generates more carbon emissions, and is harder to mine. Instead of seeking an alternative to coal, our "solution" has been mountaintop removal coal mining. More than likely, the electricity that powers your home is linked to this devastating practice.
In 2006, the Unitarian Universalist Association passed an Action of Immediate Witness (AIW) called, "End Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining."
Mountaintop removal coal mining does exactly what it says, removing entire mountaintops in order to extract the coal within. There are less invasive ways to mine but mountaintop removal is the cheapest and thus most profitable. In addition, when entire mountaintops are removed, the debris must go somewhere so mining companies have dumped it into nearby streams. In Appalachia, over 500 square miles of mountain ranges have been destroyed and close to 2000 miles of streams have been buried by mountaintop removal coal mining. It took over 300 million years to make the Appalachian mountains. Mountaintop removal coal mining can destroy a mountain and its ecosystem in just one year.
While the rest of the United States benefits from the cheap coal and thus electricity, the environment, economy and culture of Appalachia is being ruined. Already a poorer area for historical reasons, the massive export of cheap coal for the benefit of the rest of the nation and at the expense of Appalachia perpetuates inequity across generations. While the energy gained is fleeting, the destruction is permanent.
Find out whether your district uses mountaintop removal mined coal, and if so, tell them that you want them to stop. You can do both at iLoveMountains.org.
Urge your senators to support the Appalachian Restoration Act.
Urge your representative to co-sponsor the Clean Water Protection Act (H.R.1310). (This same form will send an email to your senators as well.)
- Worship Resources containing prayers and sermon starter ideas, from the National Council of Churches
- Prayers for the Mountains, from ilovemountains.org
- Earth Hour Energy Meditation (PDF)
Originally created for Earth Hour, this is a Unitarian Universalist Association-guided meditation on energy and our interdependent connections.
- Webinar on Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining, from the National Council of Churches
- Sierra Club: Coal Country
Look inside modern coal mining. Get to know working miners along with activists who are battling coal companies in Appalachia.
For more information contact environment @ uua.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Tuesday, October 9, 2012.
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