More Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Actually Kills Jobs

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Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Operation

A Think Progress writer wrote an interesting and (in my case) eye-opening piece about mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR).

There has been an ongoing battle between environmentalists and coal mining companies because the coal companies want to utilize lower cost mountain top removal mining, but environmentalists are concerned about the coal that is scattered into water bodies and into the air by the explosives that are used to blow the coal mountaintops off.

This is seen and portrayed (by CNN, for example) as an environment vs jobs issue, as if mountaintop removal coal mining has economic benefits. Some people in West Virginia, for example, are aggressively defending mountaintop removal mining because they think that allowing it causes coal companies to create jobs.

From their point of view, the initiation of a mountaintop removal operation results in the companies hiring people to help carry out that mountaintop removal and mining process (notice the emphasis on the word help,.. you’ll figure it out later). To them, this is a win.

Mountaintop Removal Mining is the Opposite of What Supporters Think It Is

In reality, mountaintop removal mining is actually a loss for the economy overall, and I will explain why:

Mountaintop removal mining involves using bombs to blast off mountaintops to expose coal so that it can be removed easily at the surface instead of burrowing underground to get it.

This mining method hardly requires any employees to extract massive amounts of coal. While this may sound good at first, it translates into fewer jobs. According to the National Mining Association, mountaintop removal mining projects involve hiring 1/3 of the people who would normally be hired for traditional underground mining!

According to Think Progress, the fact that the EPA has been cracking down on mountaintop removal mining has forced the utilization of traditional labour-intensive mining operations, leading to a net increase in coal industry job creation — it was boosted to a 15 year high.

Mountaintop removal is just another way for the rich to get richer while they pull jobs away from the rest of us.

I will try to keep my eye on the status of MTR and update you if I hear anything interesting.

Source: Think Progress and NMA | Photo Credit: IdaStewie

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Nicholas Brown

Has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

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