The Appalachian mountains are the oldest mountain range in the world [which is why they're not as outwardly impressive as younger, taller mountains] and as a result, they are also home to some of the most richly biodiverse ecosystems in the world.
Mountaintop removal mining first started during the mid nineties as a way to technically comply with the Clean Air Act, in which regulations on sulfur emissions drove coal companies to look for ever more efficient means to extract the deepest pockets of low sulphur [bituminous] coal which would comply with the regulations. Ironically, it's a perfect example of that old cliche "cutting off one's nose to save one's face" - or rather, destroying the land, water, culture, AND air.. to reduce one single carcinogen [out of hundreds!]
The results are nothing less than disastrous, from cradle to grave:
Please feel free to copy and paste this post, and don't forget to check out the following websites for groups which organize around the resistance to the leveling of Appalachia.