Public Lab Wiki documentation

The Mountains and Mines Monitoring Project

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Photo by Junior Walk

Project Location: West Virginia

The Project Issue: Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

For well over a century the coal industry has exploited the people and natural resources of West Virginia. The technology they have developed over the past four decades specifically has allowed them to destroy and poison the environment to an almost unbelievable extent, all in the name of maximizing profit. Large scale surface mining, also known as mountaintop removal not only deforests thousands of acres per mine site, but completely destroys the landscape leaving behind only bare rock and rubble. The biologically diverse forests that used to set where these mines now exist can never be replaced, the topsoil that allowed them to exist is now buried under valley fills. The bedrock that once formed some of the oldest mountains on the planet is blasted apart and turned into toxic dust clouds that settle on the communities below.

The state regulatory agency, the West Virginia Department of Environmental protection has been in the pocket of the coal industry since its conception. This makes it difficult to hold the industry accountable to the relatively lax environmental laws, but not impossible. Over the years, Coal River Mountain Watch has discovered a handful of methods in the pursuit of chipping away at the profit margins of coal companies. One of the most successful tactics has been in observing, documenting, and monitoring mining activity and reporting on them to the DEP. The intent behind this fellowship team is to support our continued work against the coal industry using drones and other forms of observation to document violations of environmental law, and pressure the DEP to take appropriate action. The fines incurred by the coal company are a pittance and are factored into the cost of doing business.

The main goal of this work is to make the companies pull workers and equipment away from actively mining coal in order to fix the problems they created.

Project Aims

In this project, we aim to:

  • Monitor active mine sites from the ground and via drone.
  • Research environmental regulations and identify tactics that concerned citizens in communities around surface mines can use to document illegal actions and permit violations by the mining companies.
  • Communicate our findings to the Department of Environmental Protection and follow up with them to raise the pressure on the agency to take action.
  • Create a videos examining the state of abandoned and active mines in the area on and around Coal River Mountain, and describe the tactics that can be used to hold the industry accountable.

People Involved:

Fellows working on this project:

Partners and Collaborators: - Coal River Mountain Watch


Interested in following along in the project? Subscribe to the tag below to get updates when we post new material.

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Project Outputs: Learn about observable permit violations for coal mining with the materials below

Ground Violations

Read more about common ground related violations here

Water Violations

Read more about common water related violations here

Air Violations

Our most recent posts and videos on this project:

Title Author Updated Likes Comments
White Oak 6/14/22 @junior_walk1337 about 2 years ago 0
Edwight to Edwight 6/5/22 @junior_walk1337 about 2 years ago 0
Racine 6/1/22 @junior_walk1337 about 2 years ago 0
Edwight 5/24/22 @junior_walk1337 about 2 years ago 0
Want to Share Your Perspective on Sustainability and the Future of Coal? @kassidy219s about 2 years ago 0
Marfork 5/15/22 @junior_walk1337 about 2 years ago 1
Edwight 5/11/22 @junior_walk1337 about 2 years ago 0
Hazy 4/2/22 @junior_walk1337 over 2 years ago 1
Air: Common Permit Violations @ekpeterman over 2 years ago 0
Hazy 3/28/22 @junior_walk1337 over 2 years ago 0
Eunice 3/23/22 @junior_walk1337 over 2 years ago 0
Middle Ridge 3/22/22 @junior_walk1337 over 2 years ago 0
Naoma 3/18/22 @junior_walk1337 over 2 years ago 0
Clear Fork 3/17/22 @junior_walk1337 over 2 years ago 0
Hazy 3/15/22 @junior_walk1337 over 2 years ago 0
Blasting 101 with Vernon Haltom @junior_walk1337 over 2 years ago 0
Edwight and Shumate 3/4/22 @junior_walk1337 over 2 years ago 0
Middle Ridge 3/3/22 @junior_walk1337 over 2 years ago 0
Twilight from Hazy 2/26/22 @junior_walk1337 over 2 years ago 4
Sycamore 2/21/22 @junior_walk1337 over 2 years ago 0
Montcoal 2/20/22 @junior_walk1337 over 2 years ago 0
Ground violations 101 with Vernon Haltom @junior_walk1337 over 2 years ago 1
Ground: Common Permit Violations @ekpeterman over 2 years ago 1
Pettus/Packsville 2/10/22 @junior_walk1337 over 2 years ago 1


Activities we’ve done in our project

Purpose Category Status Author Time Difficulty Replications
Nothing yet on the topic "MMMP" -- be the first to post something!

Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.