The central argument as to why mountaintop removal mining is OK in the end is that the coal companies are required to return the mountains to their original form once they're done, or turn it into some economic development area. Anybody who's been paying attention in West Virginia knows that the coal companies aren't upholding they're part of the bargain:
Coal operators in Southern West Virginia are not restoring large strip-mining sites to their "approximate original contour," despite a state policy change meant to require such reclamation, according to a previously unpublished federal government report.I've never been completely convinced that you can return the earth to its previous form once you've blown the fuck out of it, but shouldn't they at least give it a shot? You know, when that's what the law requires? Dare we to hope that some enforcement might follow? I shan't hold my breath.
U.S. Office of Surface Mining investigators found that reclaimed mining sites were left much lower in elevation than required to meet the approximate original contour formula spelled out in their approved permit applications.