Coal Tattoo

Does mountaintop removal make flooding worse?

With all of the flooding hitting Southern West Virginia, some of the discussion will certainly turn to whether mountaintop removal coal-mining makes flooding worse.

I thought I would post a couple of resources to help people as they think about such issues.

Now, it’s difficult without a lot more site-specific information to say that a particular flood was made worse by mountaintop removal. But in general, there’s little question that such large-scale land disturbance makes flooding more likely and makes floods that do occur worse. (Of course, other large-scale land disturbance does the same — but this is a blog about coal mining, so we’ll talk about that here).

After the big floods in 2001, I did a couple of stories that might be interesting to read in coming days.

First, this one,  which detailed the findings of government studies of the question of how mountaintop removal impacts flooding. You can read the actual studies I based the story on by going to the EPA mountaintop removal site here, and looking for Appendix H.

I also did this story, about how the state Department of Environmental Protection had  resisted efforts to force coal operators to do more detailed reviews that would help pinpoint the potential flood impacts of strip mining.