Mining Pollution Essay

1200 words - 5 pages

A September 7th 2011 New York Times article with the headline “Pennsylvania Sues Over Coal-Mine Discharges” by Deborah Weisberg sits at an important intersection of mining operations in the US. This intersection is illustrated by a small icon adjacent to the article with the tag “Politics and Policy”. This tag is indicative of the political nature of most environmental issues today. Coal mining, with its immense environmental implications, is still a lucrative economic foundation of many Appalachian states. While reading online articles about Appalachian mining it was commonplace to see user comments like “West Virginia politicians would strip mine their mother’s teeth if it guaranteed a campaign contribution.” Comments like this indicate a frustration with a political preference of money over real environmental and labor concerns. Tellingly, a historical overview of mining operations worldwide during the 19th and 20th centuries exemplifies that capitalism and technologic innovation were stronger forces than concern for human rights or the environment we live in. In this essay I will focus on the issue that Deborah Weisberg’s article chronicles, West Virginia mining pollution from the Loveridge and Blacksville mines, and explore the historical and geological legacies of West Virginia while attempting to highlight the underlying political factors.
Deborah Weisberg’s article “Pennsylvania Sues Over Coal Mine Discharge” discusses how the “The state of Pennsylvania is suing the energy producer Consol Energy over discharges from two coal mines in West Virginia that killed thousands of fish in a tributary running through both states in 2009. The damage that Weisberg, and initially the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat discuss is devastating: multiple species of fish, totaling almost 43,000, were killed from discharges along a 30 mile stretch. Not only does this impact the natural ecology of the area, it disrupts the local economy that relied on the fish. An important question to note is whether the discharge would have received so much attention had it just impacted the local environment and not disrupted the fish industry. The discharge into a once clean water supply indicates that proper oversight was not employed not trouble shooting efforts. The 43,000 fish that perished is the result of the discharge continuing for a sustained period of time without any effort to stop it. The article also discusses how the suit was filed two months before a statute of limitations would have prevented any further discussions with Consol Energy. If that statute of limitations had passed would that have relieved Consol Energy of any responsibility of cleaning up the waters? Issues like this once again illustrate the intersections of politics with environmental issues.
The two mining operations that were responsible for the discharge were in West Virginia: the Blacksville Mine and Loveridge mine respectively. Both mining operations produce steam coal with the...

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