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Removing Mountains

Mountains really can be moved. Or removed, at least. In one type of surface mining, entire mountaintops are razed to extract coal, and the byproducts are dumped into nearby water sources. This method is particularly associated with the Appalachian mining industry, and has had a devastating impact on mountainous ecosystems. Last week, however, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its plan to review coal miners' permits, which could potentially reduce the practice. Read the related NPR story here.

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In the summer of 2007, photographer Daniel Shea set out to cover the coal industry of Appalachia. As he puts it:
"What began as an interest in the modern coal mining process known as mountaintop removal quickly evolved into an extensive survey of the social, political and, perhaps most importantly, cultural implications of extracting coal from the Appalachian Mountains. What I found over the course of the trip was that these coal-mining processes had quickly developed into one of the most destructive and pervasive forms of modern industry in the world." Ultimately, he says, "I consider this body of work to be art about a political issue, not political art."

To read more about the project in the artist's own words, check out his site.

Images (c) Daniel Shea.