State Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford County) has introduced legislation that would outlaw importation of coal that was extracted using mountaintop-removal, a destructive form of strip mining that levels mountains with dynamite to expose a coal seam. Mountaintop-removal sites are concentrated in eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee, southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia.
About 60 percent of North Carolina’s electricity is derived from burning coal. Progress Energy and Duke Energy — the state’s largest utility companies — import nearly all their coal from Appalachian mines, and about half of it is extracted using mountaintop-removal.
Utilities reacted to the proposal by warning that it would drive up rates, according to an article in Raleigh’s News and Observer. Coal, which is in growing demand worldwide, is also getting more expensive.
Pictured is a satellite image, found on ilovemountains.org, depicting where coal for Progress Energy’s Skyland facility is sourced. (The mining tools represent the mine sites — in our case, they are located in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. The orange power plant represents Asheville’s Skyland plant, and the grayscale plants are other facilities in Progress Energy’s system that burn mountaintop-removal coal.)
— Rebecca Bowe, contributing editor