Environmental, Economic, and Social Effects of Mountaintop Removal
This chapter presents some of the research on MTR’s impact on biological systems, including human communities. In addition to considering multiple natural systems and sciences, this inquiry must attend to the economic and political contexts in which MTR operates. MTR has had catastrophic effects on the environment of Appalachia and a negative economic impact on the states where it operates; it has been the subject of numerous contentious court battles and policy reversals. However, the apparent certainty of these conclusions is misleading. The available data on MTR are incomplete, and more research is needed. More important, the research that exists is often contested or denied. After considering the various effects of MTR on the environment and society, the author argues that analysis of these data must be guided by an ethical approach that is capable of negotiating the value relationships involved in this issue.
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