What is mountaintop removal?
Mountaintop removal refers to the process of mining at the surface of a mountain top or a mountain ridge.
Mountaintop removal refers to the process of mining at the surface of a mountain top or a mountain ridge. Any trees or plants are first removed, explosives are used to blow apart the earth and reach materials below the surface, and these materials (often coal) are then collected.
The process is controversial because it greatly transforms the environment. This process often results in an increase in minerals in the water, which affects fish and other aquatic species, the process can change the flow of streams and rivers below the mountain, forests are fragmented and may be very slow to regrow after mining is completed, and so forth. The image below shows the landscape before mining and after.
The EPA provides diagrams of the process on this page.