Monday, January 30, 2012

Buried For Cheap Coal

This is a guest post from Tierra R. Curry, M.S. a Conservation Biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Photo credit Conservation Fisheries, Inc
The Kentucky arrow darter is literally being blown up and buried for cheap coal. The darter is a handsome brightly colored fish that is found in only six counties in the Appalachian Mountains in southeastern Kentucky. Unfortunately for this newly discovered species, its entire range is within an area that is being devastated by mountaintop removal coal mining. Mountaintop removal is a radical form of mining where coal companies dynamite the tops off of mountains and then dump the waste directly into nearby streams, permanently filling in the stream and poisoning downstream wildlife. More than 2,000 miles of streams and 500 mountains have already been destroyed. The pollution from mountaintop removal is toxic for aquatic animals and has been linked to cancer and birth defects in humans. In some counties in eastern Kentucky, nearly one-quarter of the total land area of the county is under open permit for surface mining.

Coal mining has already extirpated the Kentucky arrow darter from more than half of its range. It is a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act, but this status does not provide real protection for the fish or its habitat. The headwater streams that are home to the Kentucky arrow darter are biologically rich and are a source of drinking water for people.

Darters are exceptionally interesting fish. During the mating season male arrow darters become showy, and change from pale yellow and green to bright colors with blue, green, orange and scarlet spots and stripes. They undergo elaborate courtship rituals involving dashing, nudging and quivering. Parental care is generally rare in fish, but male darters establish territories and then defend their nests until the eggs have hatched.

The Environmental Protection Agency has recently taken some steps to attempt to reduce water quality degradation caused by mountaintop removal in Appalachia, but the agency’s efforts to curb the practice are under political attack in Washington. The coal industry and their politicians claim that mining is essential to the economy of Kentucky, but the bleak reality is that the counties with the most mining remain among the poorest counties in the nation. The highly mechanized mining employs few people and keeps the region locked in poverty. Mountaintop removal caused the loss of thousands of mining jobs and prevents a sustainable economy from developing. Mountaintop removal threatens the survival of the Kentucky arrow darter as well as the health and culture of mountain communities.
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Take action for the Kentucky arrow darter!
Ask the Obama Administration to close the mining waste loophole.

9 comments:

woody s. said...

well said, T.

Jade Turner said...

It's saddened me when I read that counties that have the most numbers of mining industries are also the poorest counties. I don't get the logic since miners do mining to get resources and these resources can be found in those counties which are considered to be poor. It must be a sad reality. mining equipment

Emily said...

Surface mining and other forms of mining must follow a stricter regulations to prevent these kinds of thing from happening. It is important to install different waste system technologies in construction sites to prevent leakage of waste products that can ruin the nature.

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Debra Mennins said...

The EPA can only do so much, but when money sources get curbed, then they get attacked viciously by Politicians and their business backers. What they can do is to make media campaigns to spread information and education.

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Josh said...

It is very sad that these wonderful creatures are being sacrificed for the sake of earning money from these mining activities. I wonder where there conscience are at.

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Stew said...

I wonder how it was confirmed that this specie is extinct when it was only recently found out in the first place.
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Xander Lawson said...

Regardless if the species is extinct or not, the point is mining should be done more carefully. No ore or raw material should come at the cost of completely destroying the environment and the flora and fauna that live there.

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a ji o ji suno ji said...

I have the privilege of being a friend of Sharon's and am always in awe of her work! Great sketch... great job!
Mindy
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