News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Northeast Ohio Medical University

NOCHE


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Environment




Exploradio: The true costs of mountaintop removal
New research shows that 3,000 miles of mountain streams have been impacted by mountaintop removal mining to produce just two years worth of coal
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
A valley in West Virginia is filled with the overburden of a mountaintop removal surface mine. Coal seams that are too thin for conventional mines are accessed this way, at disproportional environmental costs according to new research.
Courtesy of Brian Lutz
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Mountaintop removal is the controversial mining process where layers of rock and soil that sit above a thin seam of coal are stripped off and dumped in adjacent valleys. Half the coal produced in central Appalachia now comes from these kinds of mines.

New research is putting an environmental price tag on each ton of coal produced this way. And it allows for comparison of mountaintop removal with other energy sources.

In this week’s Exploradio, Jeff St.Clair talks with one of the authors of the study, Brian Lutz, bio-geochemistry professor at Kent State University.

Exploradio: Mountaintop removal

Other options:
MP3 Download (5:11)


(Click image for larger view.)

A new study shows that the environmental costs of the mining technique known as mountaintop removal far exceed the amount of coal produced compared to other energy sources.

The study published last week by Kent State University’s Brian Lutz, along with Emily S. Bernhardt from Duke University, and William H. Schlesinger from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York measures the environmental impact versus the amount of coal extracted from 20 years worth of mountain top removal in Kentucky and West Virginia.  

Lutz says, “We find the footprint of mining practices is really quite staggering with respect to the amount of coal that we’re able to take home at the end of the day.”

The team has for the first time tied the environmental impacts of surface coal mining directly to the coal production rates.  They studied satellite data to determine the amount of area mined by mountaintop removal in a 47 county area of Kentucky and West Virginia. This was compared with county-level coal production data between 1985 and 2005 to determine the amount of coal produced per unit of land disturbance. 

Lutz says, "to meet current US coal demands, an area the size of Washington DC would need to be mined every 81 days."  His data shows that the environmental impact of mountaintop removal is huge compared to the amount of coal produced. Lutz says, “Over a 20-year period more than 2,000 square kilometers of the landscape was mined, and that yielded just about two years of current U.S. coal supply.”  That’s nearly half-a-million acres of forest turned into grassland.

Lutz and his team also measured the extent of stream impairment based on water quality loss per ton of coal, and the amount of carbon sequestration potential lost to the removal of trees on the mountaintops.  Their analysis shows that, according to Lutz, "A one-year supply of coal would result in around 2,300 kilometers (1,430 miles) of stream impairment and a loss of ecosystem carbon sequestration capacity comparable to the global warming potential of more than 33,000 US homes."

The study "The Environmental Price Tag on a Ton of Mountaintop Removal Coal" is available at PLOS_ONE.org.




Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Support for Exploradio
provided by:








Stories with Recent Comments

Will Ohio's marijuana initiative follow casinos' lead?
We just ask to have marijuana legalized and here comes some nimrod trying to rob us of our rights and make us buy it from some legalized new type DRUG DEALER th...

Fancy dinners from humble beginnings at The Blue Door
Grandma of Chris Miller moved to Florida in a retirement community but I sure miss the Falls and the Blue Door, and the fine service and the true friendship of ...

The Black Keys guitar tech's moment in the spotlight
Nice job, Vivian. It's always nice to hear about the unsung heroes getting their due! Thank you, Chuck Johnston (Full disclosure - I'm a friend of the Carney fa...

A guide for gift-shopping for older Ohians
I'll never be to old for peanut brittle.

Akron's Tuba Christmas: A resounding blast of holiday spirit
Nice piece, Vivian! Looking forward to hearing you move from flute to tuba on Saturday. Love hearing your interviews and this seemed extra special since I kno...

Cleveland Hugo Boss workers are fighting for their jobs again
Bro. Ginard; I support your effert to keep your jobs, I understand all about concesions, I was a Union offical from 1965 until 1991 and the company th...

Asian Carp control could benefit from bill passed by House, heading to the Senate
help me fight the battle against invasive carp by method of harvest

Ohio's Portman supports lifting limits on party political money
If Portman was legitimately concerned about outside groups influence on elections he would have supported the DISCLOSE act. Instead he helped block it being bro...

Study shows trade with China has cost more than 3 million U.S. jobs
I disagree with James Dorn! If we don't change the playing field and make it a fair competition the whole US industry will be weaker and weaker. Eventually all ...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University