Did you know that the US coal industry has flattened over 500 mountains in the Appalachians during the past 2 decades.
Despite living among the richest coal reserves and one of the most ecologically biodiverse regions in the world, the people in Central Appalachia, including those near my home in the southern West Virginia coalfields, are among the poorest people in the United States. Poverty rates here are at least twice that of the rest of the country.
The people are mainly a rural, white population whose families have lived in Appalachia for generations, dating back to before the exploitation of the coal seams. People often ask, how could this happen? How could one of the most minerally rich places be populated by some of the poorest people? It happens because the economy here has revolved around the concentrated ownership of one resource—coal—for more than a hundred years.
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