Coal is a
combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock
strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams.
forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of
later exposure to elevated temperature and
Coal is composed primarily of
carbon, along with
variable quantities of other elements, chiefly
hydrogen, oxygen, and
fuel, coal forms when dead plant matter is converted into peat, which in
turn is converted into lignite,
then sub-bituminous coal, after that bituminous coal, and lastly anthracite.
This involves biological and geological processes that take place over
The ore-bearing rock series that exhibits a typical coal - bauxite -
iron structure is divided into three segments from the bottom upward,
namely, an iron layer, a bauxite layer, and a coal layer.
ores primarily comprise diaspore, boehmite, kaolinite, illite, and hematite
with minor zircon, pyrite,
rutile, and feldspar.
1968 November 20 Farmington Mine Disaster happens at the
Consol No. 9 coal mine near Farmington, West Virginia.
Laws previously enacted have largely been
abandoned by the new leaner and meaner mine
owners of the 21st century.
1976 15 miners go
missing after an explosion rocked the coal mine.
Two days later, there
is a second explosion where 11 more men are unaccounted for.
Investigators conclude the explosion was caused by a build-up of
methane gas due to inadequate
In total, 26 miners died.
2001 Thirteen coal miners die as the result of two gas
explosions September 23 at the Jim Walter Resources Blue Creek No. 5 Mine in
2005 Pennsylvania Department
of Environmental Protection announces it will take up to 60 years and $15
billion to clean up 250,000 acres of land and over 2100 miles of
by abandoned coal mines in
2006 On January 2 in the Sago Mine
in Sago, West Virginia a blast and ensuing aftermath trapped thirteen miners
for nearly two days.
Only one miner survived.
Coal Group was the non-union coal operator of the Sago Mine.
On May 20
five miners at the non-union Kentucky Darby Mine No. 1 in Harlan County, state
of Kentucky, died after a methane explosion inside a shaft.
On May 24,
2006 a miner underground at International Coal Group's Sycamore II Mine near
Jarvisville, state of West Virginia, died when he was struck in the head by a
heavy wooden object.
2007 On Jan 13 two members
of a coal mining crew removing support pillars in a coal mine near Cucumber
died when a portion of the tunnel collapsed and the men were buried in
debris deep underground.
The crew was working on a process called retreat mining, a practice
that involves cutting away support pillars to extract the last coal deposits by
working back toward the entrance while allowing the ceiling to fall
When Robert Murray acquired a 50% ownership in the Crandall Canyon
coal mine in August, 2006, his incorporation repeatedly petitioned the Mine
Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to allow coal to be extracted from the
north and south barriers - thick walls of coal that ran on both sides of the
main tunnels left by design to hold up the ceilings.
Documents on file
with the Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining show Andalex, the prior owner, had
previously decided not to mine those barriers, determining it posed a risk to
In February and March, they engaged in retreat mining in
the north barrier.
Work in the north barrier progressed until March,
when the coal mine suffered a collapse - the tunnel roof fell in, the tunnel
floors heaved and coal exploded from the support pillars due to the pressure of
the mountain bearing down.
The collapse damaged tunnels over a span of
more than 700 feet, and prompted coal mine operators to abandon retreat mining
in the northern barrier.
On June 15 the incorporation received approval
from the Mine Safety and Health Administration to begin
cutting away the support
pillars of the south barrier.
On August 6 six miners - Kerry
Allred, Don Erickson, Luis Hernandez, Juan Carlos Payan, Brandon Phillips and
Manuel Sanchez - were retreat mining in that south barrier when a 69 acre
On August 16 Dale Ray Black, Brandon Kimber and Gary
Jensen were killed in another collapse while attempting a rescue.
According to 1400 pages of government and
congressional records the
Crandall Canyon coal mine was
Ken Ward Jr. of The Charleston Gazette (W.Va.)
analyzed government reports and data and found that 9 out of every 10 coal
mining deaths nationwide over the last 10 years could have been avoided if
existing safety rules had been followed.
Seth Borenstein, Linda J.
Johnson and Lee Mueller of Knight Ridder Newspapers used federal data to
find that "since the Bush administration took office in 2001, it has been more
lenient toward mining companies facing serious safety violations, issuing fewer
and smaller major fines and collecting less than half of the money that
"It is a sign of progress that America is
beginning to face the coal-hard truth about burning black "chunks of solid
carbon" to meet our insatiable hunger for electricity.
ravenous coal-fired power plant requires stripping huge swaths of land each and
To feed our energy appetites, we flatten mountains, wrench
soil-stabilizing trees from the ground, devour purple mountains majesty and
bury streams under toxic tons of rubble." - Linda Nicholas
across the country are deciding that coal's multiple bad effects are real,
cumulative, permanent and largely ignored in Washington.
Coal is the
main reason the US is the world's largest source of greenhouse gases.
The ready availability and relatively low cost (to the power
generator), and the fact that we have always done it this way, gave coal a safe
place in the market for 125 years and forged a large body of well-financed
special-interest groups." - Robert Siebert
front group the Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security
debutes in the summer as a product
of the Adfero Group, a public relation corporation working for Koch Industries
and the Chamber of
Coal dust explosion at Massey
Energy's Upper Big Branch coal mine kills twenty-nine out of thirty-one miners
at the site.
The CEO of Massey Energy at the time of the disaster, Don
Blankenship, is convicted in 2015 of conspiring to willfully violate safety
standards but was found not guilty of charges of
securities fraud and making
strip mining morphs into mountaintop removal
1992 to 2002
Strip mining was just the
In Appalachia they do not just strip the Earth for coal
seams lying a few feet under the surface they take the entire tops off
mountains and dump them in streams!
A rule change allowed strip mining
waste to be reclassified as 'fill'. Twelve hundred miles (1200) of stream bed
"Mountaintop removal is not only ignorant, as the habitat
of wildlife is destroyed in the name of profit and
greed, it is immoral and shortsighted." -
The pillage of Appalachia by the coal industry is being made
possible by officials who view public
service as an opportunity for wholesale plunder.
2004 Federal judge revokes 11 permits issued by the Army
Corps of Engineers under the Nationwide Permit 21 process which allowed
2005 In November the
US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rules that mountaintop removal and
streambed filling complied with the Clean Water Act.
permitting' for mountaintop removal and streambed filling is
"I've been regulating mining since 1966 and this is the
most lawless administration I have encountered.
They have no regard for
protecting miners or the people in mining
They are without scruples.
The corruption and
lawlessness goes all the way to the top." - Jack Spadaro, former superintendent
of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration
2007 Federal judges decision supports environmentalists'
claims that the Army Corps of Engineers has improperly issued permits for
mountaintop coal mining in Appalachia.
In the flurry of rule changes
that take place on George Walker Bush's exit many environmental regulations are
The rule on mountaintop removal and stream filling is changed
to circumvent government
The rule gives coal corporations a legal right to do
what required special permission previously.
"The EPA's own scientists
have concluded that dumping mining waste into streams
devastates downstream water quality. By
signing off on this rule, the agency has abdicated its responsibility."
- Edward C. Hopkins
"This is unmistakably a fire sale of epic size for
coal and the entire fossil fuel industry,
with flagrant disregard for human health, the environment and the
rule of law." - Vickie Patton
2009 February 13 the US Court of Appeals for the
Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Virginia, overturn the previous decision to stop
mountaintop coal mining.
"Clean coal" companies will be able allowed to
continue blasting the tops off mountains and dumping the leftover rock in
valleys, burying streams forever.
"The scientific evidence of the severe
environmental and human impacts from mountaintop mining is strong and
irrefutable." - Margaret Palmer
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