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Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness --- Radical Strip Mining and the Devastation of Appalachia Hardcover – 2 Feb 2006


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Sometimes when sitting idly at my computer, I'll go to the federal Office of Surface Mining website and click on "Statistics." Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 16 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Wow 12 Feb 2006
By Terri L. Likens - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Reece never falters as, chapter by chapter, he pulls together the staggering case against the coal industry's highly destructive mountaintop removal mining practices.

He takes us to Lost Mountain in Perry County, Ky., and spends a year watching as the mountain is steadily leveled. He captures the voices of all parties involved and makes clear what is at stake. He shows us what is wrong in the system and even offers sound ideas for fixes.

Reece pulls no punches along the way, using government records to expose a pattern of lies and false promises. He also knows his way around the decidious forest, sharing with his readers the shy ways of creatures like cerulean warblers and flying squirrels. (One note, though, Erik: On page 83, you erroneously link the blooming of the redbud and the dogwood in March. What you were seeing with the redbud actually was the serviceberry, or sarvis tree. It's a common mistake.)

The deaths of Harry Caudill and Edward Abbey left voids that have not been filled -- until now.

Reece bursts onto the scene with the power to move mountains -- or maybe save them.

This is a must read.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Thinking Like a Dead Mountain 21 May 2006
By doomsdayer520 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The Appalachians have long been abused by the rest of America as a veritable internal colony, as coal and other resources are extracted ruthlessly and the money ends up elsewhere, leaving the resource-rich people mired in every other possible type of poverty. In a business that has been brutal for generations, the extractive industries have now introduced their most insidious practice yet – mountaintop removal mining. Instead of utilizing mineshafts, or even terribly destructive strip mining, the companies are now forcibly removing entire mountaintops to get at relatively scant quantities of coal. Forested peaks become flat rocky mesas, while rivers and valleys are buried under the resulting slagheaps. In addition to the obvious environmental devastation, this cataclysmic new process continues to inflict terrible human costs on local residents. In this book, Erik Reece reports on his multi-year observations at the tragically named Lost Mountain in Eastern Kentucky, which suffered the ugly fate of mountaintop removal mining.

Reece made monthly visits to Lost Mountain, and offers a melancholy journal of the death of this once vibrant forested hill, as coal operators transformed a lush environment into a literal rubble heap. Reece also investigated the travails of the region's people. Coal companies are still harassing citizens who complain about their operations, while pocketed politicians turn a blind eye and give perennial false arguments about job creation and economic development. Meanwhile, the companies cut and run after their destruction is complete, taking their profits elsewhere while the locals suffer from toxic illnesses, flooding, mudslides, contaminated water, and the deepest poverty in America. The human hardship uncovered by Reece is both heartbreaking and maddening, and this book is a powerhouse look into issues of social justice, environmental protection, economics, and the exploitation of all of the above by unscrupulous operators for quick profits. The only problem with this book is the disappointingly weak conclusion, in which Reece attempts a general environmentalist philosophy that not only has been done a billion times, but is also far too diffuse to apply to the very specific Appalachian issues he covers in the rest of the book. But otherwise, this is one of the most important conservationist books of the year. [~doomsdayer520~]
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Important Primer on Coal Removal Politics and the crimes committed against Nature and People 13 Feb 2006
By serious reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It was sad to see this "crime" is still going on in Kentucky and that little or nothing has been done about it over the course of my lifetime and that it has only gotten worse. I have lived in California for the last 20 years, having felt the need to leave Kentucky upon college graduation. I was active as a student at U of KY in 1971 and spent quite a number of weekends in Pike County trying to help the poor people while learning all I could about strip mining as it existed then. It was sad to read nothing has really changed and and the land, its resources, the wildlife, the Appalachia Mountain area is being systematically destroyed, the creeks, streams, roadways, bridges, and homes and communities also being destroyed while out of state Coal Company owners get minimal fines, slaps on the wrist and the State and the People of Kentucky get little or nothing. This would be bad if jobs were at least being created, but they aren't. This would be bad if the State of Kentucky was at least getting a fair price for the coal but it isn't even getting that. The damage caused to the roads, bridges, river, creeks, streams, land, wildlife, scenic beauty, communities of mountain people, the heritage is all being systematically destroyed without even a fair and/or just compensation. The Coal Company owners and the Politicians who fix things nice for them in DC are getting rich but Kentucky is being raped forever by this ecological travisty. Young people need to read this if only to learn how State Leaders act once they get to D.C. and legislate against the interests of the States they represent and the people who voted them in office. Anyone who has read Kennedy's Crimes Against Nature will want to read this one.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
What is the Real Cost of "Cheap" Energy? 1 Aug 2006
By P. E. Garrett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Point Google Earth® to the area around Harlan, KY and you will see a landscape of verdant slopes dotted with scab-like wounds that were mountains once stood. Strip mining is alive and well and is savagely destroying the mountains of eastern Kentucky. In Lost Mountain, Fist-time author Erik Reece has penned an account of this ecological savagery that goes on under reported and therefore unnoticed by most people who don't live in the immediate area. This fact is brought home by Reece's report of a toxic spill 30 times the size of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. This spill occurred near Coldwater Creek, KY only six years ago. While Exxon Valdez has become household word, few have heard of Coldwater Creek
Eric Reece Chronicles the demise of one peak, Lost Mountain, so-called because of the lush vegetation that clung to its slopes, causing visitors to become disoriented, often losing their way. Those slopes are gone now, replaced with a tableland of gravel and dust, as the mountaintop was blown apart and shoved into the adjacent hollow for the sake of the coal that lay below. He uses this episode as a jumping-off point to explore the larger question of how much ecological and economic destruction are we willing to endure for the sake of cheap energy.
Cataloging the endangered wildlife; the human suffering; and the damage to the mountain ecosystem by aggressive strip mining, he paints a grim picture of the "extraction economy" of the Appalachian coal fields. The mining companies, in what must be the most Orwellian statement of the young century, claim that by destroying the mountain, they are actually improving the terrain, prompting one resident to contemplate putting a sign in his yard saying, "God was wrong. Support mountaintop removal."
This is yet another installment a chicken-little anthology of environmental activism. It's not light reading, and is often quite depressing, especially when most of the solutions Reece comes up with, such as building a bunch of furniture factories where the coal used to be, fall way short of anything feasible. It seems the biggest obstacle to change is the local populace, most of whom, dependent on coal jobs, are reluctant to take action against, or even criticize the activity.
Yet the story needs to be told. For those of us who thought that strip mining was a thing of the past, to find out that this most aggressive form of the activity is running roughshod over the once verdant peaks of some of the oldest mountains on earth, is shocking to say the least.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A compelling account 3 May 2006
By Taylor Hayden - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If you read this book and don't feel compelled to make a difference than Reece's point has been lost on you. I am a student at Western Kentucky University and recently traveled to Eastern Kentucky and fell in love with the people, the culture and the mountains of Appalachia. The more I learn about mountain top removal the more it angers me that nothing is being done. Reece really puts the corruption of the coal industry into perspective. The people he spoke to and the research he did makes you think about the actual cost of cheap coal.
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