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

The Holden Arboretum

Akron Children's Hospital


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

Pluto: The Browns split from Manziel is long overdue
Get Brock Osweiler from the Denver Broncos! He's fantastic and seems like a great person.

Democratic Senate hopeful P.G. Sittenfeld pushes for local gun control
That makes no sense at all... why not let cities determine driving codes as well? Maybe Cincy want's folks to drive on the left side of the road. What could go ...

Exploradio: Autism in the workplace
I would love to get more information re: Autism on The Town and other such programs in Northeast Ohio. Thanks!!

Human trafficking cases rise in Ohio
It is about time this is presented to proceed with a plan of prevention..to protect our youth.And very necessary to inform communities through school, churches ...

Fermented food company aims to preserve Cleveland's farm-to-table movement
This is terrific! I make my own sauerkraut and consider it vital to good health. Well done, I wish you all success.

Ohio doctors get new guidelines for prescribing certain painkillers
I would gladly smoke pot to get off pain killers but its not legal.It would save the hassle of doctor visits for pill counts,pee tests,blood tests,driving to pi...

Ohio unemployment cuts are nearing a Statehouse vote
What about those that are laid off seasonally? My husband has been employed by the same company for 26 years and has been laid off (for the last 17) mid-Januar...

Ban on microbeads is a big step in fighting plastic pollution
What a bunch of liberal "so open minded their brains fell out" tree huggin yuppies. Professing to be wise they became fools.

Who's on -- and left off -- Ohio's medical marijuana task force?
Biggest joke everm these people are evil they know marijuana is harmless they rigged the polls last nov everypne kmows it

Dayton 'Black Lives Matter' protesters to appear in court today
Police to fast with the trigger finger and not the brain.A lot of police officers out here judge by color first instead of accessing the situation first. If a p...

Copyright © 2016 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