CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A nonprofit environmental group has released a mapping tool it says shows mountaintop coal mining has been expanding closer to communities in central Appalachia in recent years, with nearly half of the 50 areas most at risk in West Virginia.
Appalachian Voices released the map Tuesday in consultation with SkyTruth, a nonprofit group that uses satellite images to study environmental changes.
The map uses federal geological data, satellite imagery, mine permit databases and an online mapping tool.
It identified 50 communities in 23 counties most at risk from mountaintop mining, including 22 in West Virginia, 18 in eastern Kentucky and 10 in southwest Virginia.
Appalachian Voices says since 1999, surface mining has grown closer to West Virginia communities even as production from those mines has declined.
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