"Appalachians love the mountains fiercely, yet mining is a way of life. Many don't want to protest the destruction of their mountains for fear the region will lose jobs. But nearly two-thirds of the mining jobs in Kentucky have been lost in the past 25 years because mountaintop mining is more efficient than deep mining.
The United States gets half its electricity from coal, and about a seventh of that comes from Kentucky. But coal money has not lifted eastern Kentucky out of poverty. In fact, the strip-mined counties have the highest poverty rates in the state, not much improved from when President Johnson visited about 40 years ago and declared war on poverty. Eighty percent of the coal, more than $2 billion worth, leaves the state, much of the profit going to distant corporations."
Here in Tennessee, grassroots actions have made coal mining operations take notice and seriously rethink their plans. Who says individuals have no voice or rights in our system? It took much time and consistent effort, but changes have been made:
"1. Tennessee will no longer issue ARAP (Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit) permits for the alteration of undisturbed perennial and intermittent streams
2. Tennessee will enforce a 100 foot buffer zone around these streams
3. Tennessee will no longer issue permits for mines where the coal seams are highly acidic (Ph 5 or lower)
4. Tennessee will tighten permitting restrictions on haul roads."