The Analysis of Coal Mining Impacts on West Virginia’s Environment

Aims: The paper analyzes the impacts of coal mining activities on West Virginia’s environment using GIS.

Study Design:  Adopted a  mixscale appoach.

Methodology: The aproach is applied to GIS and primary data connected to descriptive statistics by analyzing the impacts of mining with data collected at the state, county and watershed level.

Place and Duration of Study: The coal producing counties of West Virginia May 2010-December 2012.

Results: The study shows changes in coal production, and widespread degradation resulting in land loss and  open space, impacts on mountain ecosystem and water quality decline in the head waters and human casualities.The spatial analysis revealed the dispersion of mining activities onto senstive environments comprising of streams and mountain ecosystems.

Conclusions: The assessment of these trends and the capability of GIS in pinpointing them enhanced our research and understanding of ecosystem vulnerability in the face of recurrent degradation induced by mining. GIS also provided a framework for assessing ecosystem decline. To remedy the problems, the paper offered suggestions ranging from corporate code of ethics to improved data infrastructure and more use of GIS in environmental decision making.

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