The Keeper of the Mountains

Keeper of the Mountains

The group, Keeper of the Mountains, is working towards a healthier and more sustainable environment for tomorrow. Coming to speak to Gettysburg College from West Virginia, they explained how their home state is being destroyed by coal mining.

Coal mining has always been a necessary evil, but in the past few decades, the mining companies have changed practices for the worse. Instead of physically mining their way into mountains, companies began surface mining. Essentially, explosives would blow a whole in the side of a mountain and then mine the coal.

These explosions were a chain reaction. They destroyed the mountain ecosystems, exposed dormant chemicals. Exposed chemicals would infiltrate the land, air and rivers, effectively poisoning all the communities below. For these small communities, mining was wrecking havoc on their physical well-being as well as their economical standing. With the movement to surface mining, hundreds of men were out of work.

The other negative effect of mining is their method of cleaning coal. Power plants used to clean coal create a residue that is harmful to the environment and illegal to dump. With nowhere to put the residue, the companies create dams, which are unlined and man-made. These dams hold back six to ten billion gallons of sludge. Communities close to these dams experience an increase in cancer, asthma, and other physical ailments.

Keeper of the Mountains continues their quest to clean up mountaintop mining, and help these small communities build a better life for tomorrow. For more information on the cause, please visit: 

This speaker was brought to campus by an Eisenhower Fellow, Sarah Hecklau ’12.