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Fighting King CoalThe Challenges to Micromobilization in Central Appalachia$
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Shannon Elizabeth Bell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034340

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034340.001.0001

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Contextualizing the Case: Central Appalachia1

Contextualizing the Case: Central Appalachia1

Chapter:
(p.15) 1 Contextualizing the Case: Central Appalachia1
Source:
Fighting King Coal
Author(s):

Shannon Elizabeth Bell

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262034340.003.0002

Chapter 1 begins with a description of the historical roots of exploitation in Central Appalachia, revealing how the economic, political, and social structures of the region have long been influenced by its ties with the coal industry. An overview of the declining coal economy and the rise and fall of the union is then discussed, followed by an account of the earliest attempts to end surface mining in the 1960s and 70s. The next section details the myriad environmental injustices that face the coalfield region today, including mountaintop removal mining, flooding, coal waste impoundment breaches, water contamination, coal dust air pollution, and high rates of a number of chronic health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, respiratory conditions, and depression. The final section of this chapter describes the present-day environmental justice movement that is fighting to hold the coal industry accountable for the harms it has brought to the Central Appalachian region. The chapter closes with a reminder of the puzzle that frames this book: given the enormity of the coal industry’s deleterious effects on local communities, why are there such low rates of movement participation at the local level?

Keywords:   Exploitation, Central Appalachia, Coal industry, Surface mining, Mountaintop removal mining, Contamination, Environmental justice movement, Health, Coal dust, Union

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