Degradation of Appalachian Mountains Essay

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The 205-thousand-square-mile Appalachian Mountain range, which spans from Eastern Canada to northern Alabama, boasts North America’s oldest mountains (formed approximately 400 million years ago), the highest peak of the eastern United States (Mount Mitchell), industrial production opportunities and leisurely recreation. The range includes the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky mountains (NCSU, n.d.). A range of recreational activities such as fishing in freshwater streams, camping, biking the Blue Ridge Parkway, skiing and hiking are available in the region. One popular hiking location is the 2,184-mile Appalachian Natural Scenic Trail, which is the longest walking trail in the eastern United States (United States. National Park …show more content…
This practice harms many aspects of the Appalachian environment, such as streams. The “overburden” removed by miners falls into valley streams, which is allowed at 6,700 sites by legislation passed in 1985-2001 (Reece, 2006). This results in contaminated stream water, which is used as drinking and bathing water for the citizens, causing many reported sicknesses. One of these is “blue-baby” syndrome, methemoglobinemia, which harms internal digestive organs and bones (Benton Franklin Health District, 2002). This is seen in infants and is caused by drinking water which contains more than 10 parts per million of nitrogen, a key ingredient of the fuel used in mountaintop removal mining (Reece, 2006 & Benton Franklin Health District, 2002). ¬The sickness is called blue-baby syndrome because it decreases the blood vessels’ ability to carry oxygen (Desoine, 2008). The process of mountaintop removal can also cause asthmatic diseases, because the coal particles can easily escape the waste storage dams and irritate the respiratory system (Reece, 2006). Massey Energy, which has headquarters in Richmond, VA, is a mountaintop mining monopoly in the mountains of West Virginia, in the Coal River Valley (Shnayerson, 2008). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) charged the company approximately $2 billion dollars for 8,537 pollutant discharge violations between the months of April 2006 to December 2006. However, previous legislation under the Clean Air Act prevented fines

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