Mountaintop removal mining and losing Appalachian diversity

This news story may be old news to many of you, but I thought it might be worthwhile to share a couple of links just in case you are not a voracious reader of blogs and newsfeeds.  I am just beginning to learn what that even means.

Photo by Vivian Stockman, October 19, 2003

Photo by Vivian Stockman, October 19, 2003, found at

Robert Kennedy, Jr., testimony before Congressional Committee.  On December 12, 2008, Robert Kennedy, Jr., testified before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming on the destructive and illegal practice of mountaintop removal mining and valley fill.  A video and transcript of his testimony is located at and also at

One interesting factoid from Kennedy’s testimony that I don’t recall learning as a geologist is that after North America’s last major ice age, North America was reseeded from the seed stock in the Southern Appalachians.  You see, North America, with the exception of our fine Appalachian mountains was either under ice or had largely become a tundric wasteland (I hope I didn’t offend any tundra fans).  After the ice receded, there was nothing but grassland and lowland forests, and the Appalachians basically created the flora, and thus the fauna, that persists today.  Because our mountains are some of the oldest and survived this recent ice age, they are among the most biologically diverse.


Photo by Peacock at

This makes the irresponsible onslaught of the mining companies and the complicity of the outgoing administration and the Army Corps of Engineers all the more egregious.

See also Forests in Peril: Tracking Deciduous Trees from Ice-Age Refuges into the Greenhouse World by University of Tennessee professor, Hazel R. Delacourt, Department of Ecology and  Evolutionary Biology for a scholastic summary of biodiversity of the Appalachian and the impacts that we all will face when this ecological gem is lost.

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