Surface mining endangers environment

Letter to Editor by Sam Reid

Surface mining is disadvantageous to the health of all parties affected. Valley fills bury headwater streams, consequently increasing their Sulfate levels, Selenium levels, pH and electrical conductivity.

Selenium sterilizes the fish populations in the streams, which then sterilizes the birds who eat them.

Living in an area with surface mining has been shown in a study published in Science Magazine to increase lung cancer, chronic heart, lung and kidney disease, hypertension and chronic pulmonary disease.

While post-surface mining mountain reclamation can re-establish grass and tree populations, it cannot re-establish the endemic diversity of an unviolated ecosystem.

Business Week explained Mountaintop Mining (MTM) reclamation has reduced pollen-producing vegetation, ultimately depriving honeybees of nutrition and destabilizing their decreasing population.

This is just one of the myriad effects fundamentally altering mountain composition can cause. One of the common concerns about an MTM-less Eastern Kentucky is the potentially severe decrease in jobs.

This is simply not the case.

In the words of UK student Danny Cotton, “I’m not from Eastern Kentucky, I’m from Central Kentucky. Tobacco was a way of life, as much as coal is to Eastern Kentuckians, for us and losing it was devastating. While there are still large tobacco companies making plenty of money, family farmers lost their livelihoods. I don’t want to see the same thing happen to miners in Eastern Kentucky. That’s why I want to see sustainable economic development, because it’s not if coal jobs are gone, it’s when.”

Sam Reid

topical studies sophomore