Coal Mining’s Environmental Impact | From The Ashes

[explosion] MARY ANNE HITT: To me as
somebody who had grown up in the mountains and
love the mountains, the idea that a coal
company had the right to blow up an entire mountain
and wipe it off the map forever was just unconscionable. These places are
not just sort of physically important to people,
but they are spiritually important to people. And once they’re gone,
they’re gone forever. You can’t put a
mountain back together. And I just deeply feel that
no company has the right to take away something
that ultimately belongs and matters to so many people. Just look across the valley. Next door, that’s what
it used to be like– one of the most diverse forests
on the planet, and now it’s a wasteland. Over there used to be
a valley and a stream that’s now covered up with
thousands of feet of boulders. That’s never going
to be the same again. And over 2000 miles of
streams have been buried in Appalachia– some
of the most diverse streams on the planet,
some of the cleanest water on the planet. And that is a huge loss
to this part of the world. MARGARET PALMER: When that
rock material is pushed over the edge of the
now flattened mountain, it ends up dissolving
a lot of minerals into the water, things like
iron, magnesium, calcium. And organisms can’t
tolerate that, so it kills organisms
in the stream. And so that material, that water
that is now heavily polluted runs out of the base
of the valley fill, into streams, and eventually
into rivers below. MARY ANNE HITT: They also
store the mining waste in these huge earthen dams, and
they’re holding back billions of gallons of toxic
sludge that’s leaking into the drinking water. REGINA LILLY: Everybody’s well
is pretty much contaminated in one form or another. So I don’t use water to cook. I use it to do the dishes, but
that’s about it, because you can wipe the water off. There’s a guy that we tend to
help out every now and again. Here’s is blind from the water. He could take his water,
turn his water on, put it in a clear water bottle,
put his hand over it, sit for a few seconds,
even put a cap on it, take the cap off, and take
a lighter and light it, and water will burn. So yeah, water around
here is pretty bad.

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