Mountaintop Mining in Virginia's Blue Ridge?

The state motto is "Virginia is for Lovers", and Virginians sure love their mountains.  Think about what might happen if a coal company proposed to blow up peaks in the beloved Blue Ridge range?  No way, no how -- there would be an uproar and outright revolt before anyone allowed the destruction of those storied mountians.

But make no mistake, mountaintop removal is happening in my native state.  Look to the coalfields in the far southwestern corner of the Old Dominion, where 50 mountains have been lost already -- that's 10% of the roughly 500 mountaintops leveled thus far!  There lies sleepy, bucolic Wise County, ground zero in the fight to stop the coal industry from razing Appalachia. 

The book Something's Rising describes the view confronting anyone crossing over the border from Kentucky:

After dozens of stomach-churning curves, a small sign announces that the Virginia state line has been crossed.  And suddenly, everything changes.  Now there is a moonscape below, a barren wasteland of dirt and exposed rocks and yellow bulldozers.  From near the summit of Black Mountain can be seen a mountaintop removal site that stretches itself brazenly above the town of Appalachia, Virginia, and it looks like a scar on the face of the earth...Where once there was a mountain here in Virginia, now there is a deep, dead hole.

The good news is that a feisty and effective band of citizens is working to protect Wise County communities from the ravages of rapacious coal companies.  The group Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS) is leading the charge.  To learn more about SAMS and its noble cause, take a moment to listen to this excellent podcast in which Kathy Selvage of SAMS tells the story of the fight to save Virginia's mountains and the towns nestled amongst them. You can also see Kathy's story on this YouTube video.