Let’s say that you’re CEO of a coal corporation, and you want to get at the deposits of black gold deep inside the beautiful, verdant mountains of Appalachia. You have a choice.

You could adopt modern methods that combine industrial ingenuity and environmental finesse to extract the coal. Or, what the hey, why not just ram tons of explosives into the terra firma, blow up the entire top third of those peaks, bulldoze the resulting rubble down the mountainsides into the streams below, then — voila! — simply scoop out the exposed coal? Yes, mountain decapitation is brutish and nasty, but, wow, it’s so much more profitable for your corporation. What’s a CEO to do?

Blowing the tops off mountains might give you pause, but it’s just another day’s work for America’s coal barons, who do not hesitate to grab an extra dime in profit by resorting to what they euphemistically call “mountaintop removal.” These are people who’d bring a sledgehammer to peel a grape.

What they’re sledgehammering in West Virginia, Southern Ohio and Eastern Kentucky is the heart of America’s — and maybe the world’s — oldest mountain range. These ancient ridges and valleys are forested with broadleaf trees, laced with pristine streams and blessed with uncountable species of flowers, fish, woodland animals, birds and other living creatures. It’s an invaluable natural treasure.

To see what the coal giants are doing here is to witness a brutal environmental rape.

Read the rest of this column on Creators.com

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