The modernization of coal mining techniques has had a monumental influence on the expansion of American industry, creating a lucrative business model based on extracting the carbon fuel source. However, when it comes to the integrity of the natural resources surrounding these mining sites, the industry is rarely called to task.
Mountaintop removal is one practice the industry engages in to efficiently extract coal resources, but it is also perhaps the most ecologically questionable. In this practice, the summit of a mountain is surface mined for the coal, and frequently the rock and waste from the efforts are moved to the valleys below. This leaves countless tons of materials, including some heavy metals, displaced in the ecosystem, threatening waterways and many species of plants, animals and birds.