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Mountaintop mining consequencesAuthor(s): M.A. Palmer; E.S. Bernhardt; W.H. Schlesinger; K.N. Eshleman; E. Foufoula-Georgiou; M.S. Hendryx; A.D. Lemly; G.E. Likens; O.L. Loucks; M.E. Power; P.S. White; P.R. Wilcock
Source: Science 327(5962):148-149
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
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DescriptionThere has been a global, 30-year increase in surface mining (1), which is now the dominant driver of land-use change in the central Appalachian ecoregion of the United States (2). One major form of such mining, mountaintop mining with valley fills (MTM/VF) (3), is widespread throughout eastern Kentucky, West Virginia (WV), and southwestern Virginia. Upper elevation forests are cleared and stripped of topsoil, and explosives are used to break up rocks to access buried coal (fig. S1). Excess rock (mine "spoil") is pushed into adjacent valleys, where it buries existing streams. Despite much debate in the United States (4), surprisingly little attention has been given to the growing scientific evidence of the negative impacts of MTM/VF. Our analyses of current peer-reviewed studies and of new water-quality data from WV streams revealed serious environmental impacts that mitigation practices cannot successfully address. Published studies also show a high potential for human health impacts.
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CitationPalmer, M.A.; Bernhardt, E.S.; Schlesinger, W.H.; Eshleman, K.N.; Foufoula-Georgiou, E.; Hendryx, M.S.; Lemly, A.D.; Likens, G.E.; Loucks, O.L.; Power, M.E.; White, P.S.; Wilcock, P.R. 2010. Mountaintop mining consequences. Science 327(5962):148-149.
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