700 Mountains

Nov - 17 2015 | By

700 sounds like a lot, and it is when you realize this is the number of mountains a 2008 proposal suggested strip mining to access the seams of coal buried inside.

mountaintop removal coal mining

Burning the Future: Coal in America


The documentary “Burning the Future: Coal in America,” from director David Novack shows the impact of mountaintop removal coal mining on nearby communities in West Virginia.

This practice involves removing the top of a mountain, as much as 500 feet, to access the seams of coal. The unwanted portion of the mountain, the waste, is discarded into the neighboring valleys. Mountaintop removal is an evolution of strip mining techniques that began in Appalachia in the 1970s.

Mountaintop removal/valley fill is a mining practice where the tops of mountains are removed, exposing the seams of coal. Mountaintop removal can involve removing 500 feet or more of the summit to get at buried seams of coal. The earth from the mountaintop is then dumped in the neighboring valleys.

Source US Environmental Protection Agency

More Information

  • In April 2005, a group of Kentucky writers traveled together to see the devastation from mountaintop removal mining, and Wind Publishing produced the resulting collection of poems, essays and photographs, co-edited by Kristin Johannesen, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Mary Ann Taylor-Hall in Missing Mountains: We went to the mountaintop, but it wasn’t there.
  • Dr. Shirley Stewart Burns, a West Virginia coalfield native, wrote the first academic work on mountaintop removal, titled Bringing Down The Mountains (2007), which is loosely based on her internationally award-winning 2005 Ph.D. dissertation of the same name.
  • Dr. Burns was also a co-editor, with Kentucky author Silas House and filmmaker Mari-Lynn Evans, of Coal Country (2009), a companion book for the nationally recognized feature-length film of the same name.
  • House, Silas & Howard, Jason (2009). Something’s Rising: Appalachians Fighting Mountaintop Removal. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-8131-2546-6.
  • Howard, Jason (Editor) (2009). We All Live Downstream: Writings about Mountaintop Removal. Louisville, KY: Motes Books. ISBN 978-1-934894-07-1.
  • Dr. Rebecca Scott, another native West Virginian, examined the sociological relationship of identity and natural resource extraction in central Appalachia in her book, Removing Mountains (2010).
  • Hedges, Chris & Sacco, Joe (2012). Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. Nation Books. ISBN 1568586434.
  • Cultural historian Jeff Biggers published The United States of Appalachia, which examined the cultural and human costs of mountaintop removal.

Additionally, you may find interest in the stories of coalfield residents, in which case these books would be appropriate:

Please note that I linked to Amazon as a source for these books, however, 700mountains.org does not receive revenue if you choose to purchase these books. It was merely for convenience on my part.

Not a local problem

In 2012 Chinese developers made plans to level some 700 mountains.

Stuart Clark reported in June 2104 about experts warning on the impact of China’s continued plans to level 700 mountains (Big Wave Gully, Lanzhou, China) in the Gansu province to make way for Lanzhou city. And while he was

Work had to be halted, however, due to air pollution caused by the dust.

Mountain Conservation Resources

If you would like to take part in environmental conservation I have put together a list of environmental agencies. This list contains both local and international.

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