strip mine

The term strip mine describes a controversial method of mining, usually for coal. During these operations, whole mountaintops are blasted away, the vegetation, animals, and topsoil “stripped” so coal seams can be exposed and the mineral extracted. Strip mining has had a significant impact on the environment. Acid runoff and seepage have changed the nature of groundwater. Toxic substances have been brought to the surface of the land. Geologies have been upended, landscapes transformed, Earth scarred, and there is, in the wake of all this, the absence of a once-majestic world. In West Virginia, hundreds of miles of streams have been buried and large areas of the state toppled as strip mining has turned peaks and valleys into flatlands. Plans to strip-mine part of the Overland Trail in South Dakota to get at limestone deposits would destroy what remains of an eight-thousand-year-old settlement site, including Native artifacts and teepee rings. The practice here would also destroy the habitat of endangered species that still dwell in the prairie.

Linda Hogan