Mountain top mining: Failure of federal regulation and ecological consequences
Published On: 1/20/2010
Margaret Palmer and coauthors speak out regarding the irreversible damage inflicted by mountain mining and challenge the federal regulatory system.
In a recent publication by Margaret Palmer et al. in Science Policy Forum entitled Mountaintop Mining Consequences (Science, 8 January, 2010: pp148-149), Palmer and 11 coauthors conduct an analysis of existing literature on the ecological and human health consequences of mountain top removal/valley fill practices for the extraction of coal. They describe the loss of biodiversity due to extreme and widespread deforestation, the complete loss of headwater mountain streams due to valley fill with rubble from mountain top explosions, and the subsequent flooding and water contamination. Groundwater contaminated with heavy metals such as selenium, manganese, iron, aluminum and sulfur, as well as coal dust particulates in air have been linked to increased rates of mortality, lung cancer, and chronic heart, lung and kidney disease in humans. The authors state that mitigation is not feasible, and they boldly challenge our failed federal regulations.
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