Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Climate & Energy

Economic action to stop global warming


Mountaintop Removal Mining

Mountaintop removal mining (MTR) flattens mountains, devastating communities and ecosystems in Appalachia.  A biologically diverse habitat is being destroyed, and the rich Appalachian culture it inspired is threatened. It is a deadly lose-lose for climate change -- accelerating coal burning and deforestation.


In the process of mountaintop removal mining:

  • forests are clear-cut to expose the tops of mountains, which are then blown off with explosives
  • coal is extracted using large machinery
  • unused soil and rock are dumped into adjacent stream valleys, filling them up and creating a flat landscape

Residents of Appalachia living near these mines are threatened by:

  • dynamite blasts that damage homes and create clouds of rock dust from poorly regulated mine operations
  • poisoned or depleted well water and polluted streams
  • increased flooding
  • the loss of traditional fishing and hunting areas
  • breathing coal dust in their homes
  • The coal companies are supposed to reclaim the land, but this rarely occurs.  Even if it does, the mountain ecosystem can never be fully restored.
  • MTR also produces massive amounts of toxic waste that is stored behind dams, which endangers nearby towns (see Why It's Dirty: Toxic Waste).

What We Are Doing

During the Bush Administration, Green America and its allies fought efforts to roll back parts of Clean Water Act that would have allowed coal companies to dump their waste into Appalachian streams, and we pushed the Administration to enforce current regulations.
Under the current administration, the EPA has been much more receptive to regulating mountaintop removal mining in accordance with the scientific data on its destructiveness to local waterways.  However, while we have congratulated the Obama Administration's EPA for its overall approach in enforcing the Clean Water Act, we continue to call out examples where the EPA has approved MTR permits that are still too destructive.

Do You Love Mountains? Learn More ...

Enter your zip code and find your connection to MTR
(from our allies at I Mountains)

Ask your representatives in Washington to end MTR
(from our allies at I Mountains)




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