Raping Our Mountains

July 31, 2006 at 11:48 am Leave a comment

Rape, raped, raping. Violent, ugly words, make you squirm and you want to look away when you hear them. Best saved for use in thier literal context, lest you disarm them. Sometimes, though, the word, the picture of it, finds its perfect embodiment elsewhere. Susanna Rodell, outgoing columnist for the Charleston Gazette uses her last editorial column, Farewell to the Mountains, to tell us what she really thinks about mountaintop removal coal mining.

Over the three years I’ve been in this job, the subject that provoked the strongest emotions, the fiercest outrage by far, was mountaintop removal. Some of those who are involved in practicing this method of getting the black stone out of the earth think this newspaper is out to ruin them. Many of those who oppose the practice have pleaded with me to come out fighting against it. I’ve bided my time. But now that my time is up (sooner than I expected), here’s what I think.

I’ve seen what mountaintop removal does and it’s truly appalling. It makes huge swathes of the state’s forested hills — the kind of primeval landscape now so precious and rare in America — look like the surface of the moon.

Yes, the mining companies are supposed to ameliorate the destruction, but don’t kid yourself. The landscape that’s been subjected to this sort of rape will never recover. I’ve seen some of the so-called reclaimed sites. A flat-topped mound covered with grass does not replace virgin forest.


Entry filed under: News stories.

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