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Argument: Explosives/machines in mountaintop removal replace jobs

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Extended argument

Historically in the U.S. the prevalent method of coal acquisition was underground mining which is very labor-intensive. In MTR, through the use of explosives and large machinery, more than two and a half times as much coal can be extracted per worker per hour than in traditional underground mines, thus greatly reducing the need for workers. In Kentucky, for example, the number of workers has declined over 60% from 1979 to 2006 (from 47,190 to 17,959 workers). The industry overall lost approximately 10,000 jobs from 1990 to 1997, as MTR and other more mechanized underground mining methods became more widely used. The coal industry asserts that surface mining techniques, such as mountaintop removal, are safer for miners than sending miners underground. from Wikipedia

Supporting quotations

I Love Mountains.org: "Coal and debris is removed by using this piece of machinery, called a dragline. A dragline stands 22 stories high and can hold 24 compact cars in its bucket. These machines can cost up to $100 million, but are favored by coal companies because they displace the need for hundreds of jobs."


Ashley Judd. "Stop mountain top removal coal mining." The Hill. July 14th, 2010: "Coal companies say Appalachia needs mining for jobs. Again, false. Coal mining jobs in Appalachia have decreased by 60 percent as MTR is highly mechanized. Explosives, machines such as 20 story draglines and bulldozers have replaced more than 100,000 jobs. Those working MTR jobs have little to no social protections and often work in a climate of bullying and fear. Many sites lack regulation, oversight and enforcement, as recent tragedies make sadly clear. The specious argument that Appalachia must choose between jobs and people, jobs and ancient mountains, honoring our coal mining past and having a strong future, must be retired."

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