The Islamic Post Blog

Operation: Mountaintop Removal by Khalida
July 25, 2008, 5:54 pm
Filed under: July Volume II - 2008, National, Science

By Aisha Faruq, Islamic Post Staff Writer

It is taught from Holy Qur’an and the authentic traditions: “The first thing He [[the Almighty] created was water; and from what was provided in the water, the earth rose up from beneath [the water], and it was shaking. Thus He made mountains like pegs to serve as an anchor does for ships. The earth became still…” – An Outline of World History from Islamic Point of View

High in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky, there is a crime against the environment being perpetrated by the mining industry, where an ongoing search is being conducted to discover a lucrative way to extract coal from within the mountains recesses.
The road cutting its way through the thickly forested hills of eastern Kentucky used to be called the Daniel Boone Parkway. It was named for the controversial American folk hero who fought his way across Indian country to settle a state where many of his descendants still live.
That was before the coal industry began blowing up the Appalachian Mountains as a cheap way of getting at the black stuff below. A group for the protection and preservation of the environment calls these actions “one of the greatest human rights and environmental tragedies in America’s recent history.”
Daniel Boone’s road is now the Hal Rogers Parkway, named after one of the Kentucky coal industry’s closest friends in Washington, a Republican Congressman of 34 years. It passes through a historic mountain range, and is covered by broadleaf forests rivaled only by the Amazon basin in its biodiversity.
But the canopy of trees which lines the parkway gives way to scraggly trees along the ridge-line, and behind those trees is evidence of intentional ecological violence. In a process known as mountaintop removal, an upland moonscape is being created, which is incapable of regenerating trees. As far as the eye can see, the land is grey and pockmarked, with huge black lakes filled with a toxic mixture of water and an insoluble solid material consequent to this coal extraction process.
The act of destroying a mountain that is thousands of years old has several distinct stages. First, it is earmarked for removal, and the hardwood forest cover, containing over 500 species of trees per acre in this region, is bulldozed away. The trees are typically burnt rather than logged, because mining companies are not in the lumber business. Then topsoil is scraped away, and high explosives laid in the sandstone. Thousands of blasts go off across the region every day, blowing up what the mining industry calls “overburden.”
U.S. businesses have spent tens of millions of dollars trying to kill a proposed law that would introduce European-style “cap-and-trade” rules on carbon emissions even before the bill hit the floor of the Senate for discussion last month.
Despite publicly supporting emissions reductions, the coal industry and electricity firms that use coal-fired plants, which stand to be most affected by new restrictions, have been among those funding a lobbying effort to derail the current proposals.
“We’re committed to supporting legislation to enact a mandatory federal program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says America’s Power, the lobby group funded by the coal industry. “However, we can’t jump on the first train that comes by.”
At issue is whether emissions permits would be handed out at no cost to current polluters like the coal industry, or whether they should all be auctioned. An additional issue would be how to evaluate the number of permits to be distributed in this manner.  At best, allocation of the permits will cause some unseemly bargaining; at worst, disagreements could paralyze the whole scheme.
Yet there is another more significantly dynamic force underway; that of the earth’s stabilizing pegs having been altered.  A cause and effect is already in the making.


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