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Essay on Effects of Strip Mining on the Appalachian Environment

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Coal mining, in particular, strip mining has become the latest casualty of the growing green movement in the United States. What is strip mining? Encyclopædia Britannica Online defines strip mining as the removal of vegetation, soil, and rock above a layer of coal, followed by the removal of the coal itself (“strip”). Most Americans don’t realize the impact this material of biological origin that can be used as a source of energy (“fossil”), or fossil fuel, has on their everyday lives or the nation’s economy. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the mining industry directly employs some fifty thousand Americans with nearly half that number working in the more specific field of strip mining, or mountain top removal (“Average”). The Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change reports in their “Fourth Assessment Report” that coal derives half the electricity production in the U.S., with the U.S. exporting approximately six percent of the coal produced (Sims). Despite the positives, strip mining poses some serious consequences to the environment, portraying the industry in a negative light, some of which include deforestation and erosion, contamination of water, and wildlife poisoning and loss of habitat.
Deforestation and erosion are the most obvious effects of strip mining. In order to get to the minerals beneath the surface of the earth, miners must clear-cut the area in which they will be working. According to the EPA, mountain top removal will affect 6.8% of forested land in the Appalachians (United). Carl E. Zipper and co-writers, having affiliation with the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, make it clear in their report, “Restoring Forests and Associated Ecosystem Services on Appa...


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...ed landscapes.” Conservation Biology 19(3):768-792. PDF file. University of Alaska Fairbanks. University of Alaska Fairbanks, June 2005. Web. 4 July 2011.
Sims, Ralph E.H. et al. “Chapter 4: Energy Supply.” Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007. Cambridge and New York. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Web. 5 July 2011
"strip mining." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 04 Jul. 2011.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. United States Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 4 July 2011
Zipper, Carl E., et al. "Restoring Forests and Associated Ecosystem Services on Appalachian Coal Surface Mines." Environmental Management 47.5 (2011): 751+. Environmental Studies and Policy Collection. Web. 30 June 2011.


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Effects of Strip Mining on Appalachian Environment Essay - Coal mining, in particular, strip mining has become the latest casualty of the growing green movement in the United States. What is coal mining. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines strip mining as the removal of vegetation, soil, and rock above a layer of coal, followed by the removal of the coal (strip). Most Americans don’t realize the impact this fossil fuel has on their everyday lives or the nation’s economy. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the mining industry directly employs some fifty thousand Americans with nearly half that number working in the more specific field of strip mining, or mountain top removal mining (Average)....   [tags: Environment ]
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