Coal: Moving Mountains

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This week began with a stunning portrait of work-a-day heroism and sacrifice: a miraculous rescue of nine Pennsylvania coalminers. The nation held its breath, then celebrated as nine men rose ALIVE from the darkness of a flooded mine that was almost their tomb.

Americans breathed a sigh of relief. But then, they turned on their lights, switched on their air conditioners, and quickly forgot about the human face, and the politics, of the nation’s power grid. And in coal country, miners descended again into the underground seams of black gold, while above ground, the mining industry continued to rip away entire mountaintops to help fuel 21st century America.

The debate over Mountain-top removal and America’s unquenchable thirst for cheap electricity.


Norm Steenstra, executive director, West Virginia Citizen Action Group

Bill Raney, president , West Virginia Coal Association

Lee Saperstein, dean, School of Mines and Metallurgy, University of Missouri Rolla

Rank, chair of the mining committee of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy