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Stopping Extraction and Mining

Amber Whittington, who lives in the heart of Appalachia’s coal country, is one of many who are working to end mountaintop removal mining.

Amber Whittington, who lives in the heart of Appalachia’s coal country, is one of many who are working to end mountaintop removal mining.

Photo by Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice

Earthjustice is going after coal at every stage of its life cycle to clear the way for clean energy.

Across the United States, coal mining is destroying wildlife habitat, polluting local water resources and dirtying our air. In the case of mountaintop removal mining, coal companies are exploding entire mountains to reach buried seams of coal and then filling valleys with the rubble, burying hundreds of miles of stream forever.

The pollution from coal mining alone is more than enough to contend with. But the moment that heavy machinery summons the black rock from its earthly confines, a devastating chain reaction begins that pollutes the environment and threatens our lives. The only safe place for coal is in the ground, untouched.

In the past few decades, more than 2,000 miles of streams and headwaters that provide drinking water for millions of Americans have been permanently buried and destroyed by mountaintop removal mining. Hundreds of mountains have been blown up for the coal beneath. An area the size of Delaware has been flattened.

Earthjustice is stopping coal extraction and mining by:

  1. Working to end mountaintop removal, an egregious practice that is killing Appalachia and its environmental and cultural resources. Currently, we’re pursuing strategies to strengthen water quality standards, to obtain stringent limits on pollution discharged into streams when valleys are filled with the remains of an exploded mountain, and to enforce the legal limits that already apply.
  2. Challenging development of coal mines in the western U.S., including Montana and Alaska. The U.S. has greater coal reserves than any other nation, and Montana has far and away the largest reserves of any other state. If this coal is unearthed, it will only lock us deeper into dirty energy independence.
  3. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal mines. Coal mines release large amounts of methane, which is 20 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. We are pursuing litigation to compel federal agencies to regulate mines’ methane emissions.