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Survey Shows Growing Concern over Mountaintop Removal

October 12, 2009

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A random survey of Kentuckians' awareness of environmental issues indicates increasing concern over the coal mining process that involves mountaintop removal.

In the survey of more than 600 Kentuckians conducted for the Kentucky Environmental Education Council, water and air pollution were cited as Kentucky's leading environmental problems. But mining coal using the mountaintop-removal method, which didn't make the top rankings in 1999 and 2004 surveys, came in third this time.

Jason Bailey, research and policy director for the Mountain Association for Community and Economic Development (MACED), says it's a step in the right direction when more people are aware of the environmental damage caused by mountaintop removal.

"The problems associated with this form of mining are such that there is a growing belief and determination, on many people's parts, I think, that we need to do something about it."

The Kentucky coal industry says coal keeps the nation's electricity rates low and provides level land for economic and agricultural development, as well as jobs in East Kentucky.

Bailey says MACED wants to promote protecting the environment and grow the economy with jobs that are much needed in Appalachia.

"We think that there are ways to sort of turn this around, and not have to choose between the land and people's livelihoods, but to actually use the land in ways that provide livelihoods."

The survey also reported that 28 percent of respondents correctly listed runoff from fields, pavements and lawns as the leading source of water pollution in Kentucky.

The survey seeks to improve environmental education in the commonwealth.

Bill Goodman, Public News Service - KY