Thursday, April 30, 2015

Appalachian towns near mountaintop mines have higher rates of poverty, population loss

Mountaintop removal in Central Appalachia is occurring closer to human population than it was 15 years ago, and communities located near mountaintop removal have higher rates of population loss and poverty than communities not located near mining sites, says a study by environmental group Appalachian Voices. The average mine in 2014 was located 1.5 miles from the nearest community.

The study said that despite a 50 percent drop in Appalachian coal production since 2008 and a nearly 60 percent drop in coal mined through mountaintop removal, "communities where surface mine encroachment is increasing suffer higher rates of poverty and are losing population more than twice as fast as nearby rural communities with no mining in the immediate vicinity," Tim Marema reports for the Daily Yonder.

"The study used a Google 'geospatial analysis tool' to map the spread of mountaintop removal mining from 30 years of satellite images of Central Appalachia," Marema writes. "That information was combined with data from the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to determine whether mining had moved closer or farther from human settlements."

The study included the top 50 at-risk communities, with almost all of them located in Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia. No. 1 was Krypton, Ky., in Perry County, followed by: Bishop, W.Va; Roaring Fork, Va.; Wainville, W.Va.; Decota, W.Va.; Red Warrior, W.Va; Busy, Ky.; Lindytown, W.Va.; Tipton, Ky.; and Yolyn, W.Va. (Appalachian Voices map)

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