W. Virginia Torn Over Coal Mining
Small town split on pros and cons of clearing mountains
By Kristina Loew,  Newser User
Posted Jan 14, 2009 7:37 AM CST
Coal ash slurry is left behind in a containment pond near the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant in Harriman, Tenn.   (AP Photo/Greeenpeace, Wade Payne)
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(Newser) – As the mining industry clears mountains in Appalachia, a nearby town finds itself in a conundrum over the future of coal, writes John McQuaid in Smithsonian magazine. With prices and energy demands soaring, mining sites are multiplying—and while some  residents see the state’s oldest and most profitable industry as part of their livelihood, others are headed to court to stop it.

Ansted, W. Virginia, has become “an improbable battleground in the struggle to meet the nation's rising energy needs,” writes McQuaid. Mountaintop mining means no longer simply drilling into mountains, but demolishing them. With cancer cases rising and eco-systems evaporating, opponents of the practice accuse the industry of skirting laws and scaring away tourists. To “see that mountain disappear, really, really hurts," laments one local.