Mining for coal in the mountaintops is not only to be damaging to the environment but also to human health. But, it does provide steady jobs. Is it really worth it?

CNN correspondent Soledad O’Brien’s recent piece on mountaintop removal (MTR) in the Appalachian mountains has the troubling title, “Steady job or healthy environment: what [sic] would you choose?”

How about we choose both?

In any case, MTR does not, despite industry claims, deliver employment to offset its environmental damage. It’s simply a win-win for Big Coal and its political supporters, and a lose-lose for ordinary people who live in mining areas. Whatever the industry would have you believe, basing an economy on coal is not a sustainable development plan. A study by the Appalachian Regional Commission noted the effects of mining on employment in Central Appalachia:

As employment in Central Appalachia’s mining sector has declined over time…many counties that were already typically experiencing relatively poor and tenuous economic circumstances…have been unable to successfully adapt to changing economic conditions.

Beth Wellington/The Guardian.

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