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A mountain to climb

The coal industry is trying to reinvent itself by capturing and burying carbon emissions deep underground. But it’s proving a struggle

By Damian Kahya   November 2009

ABOVE: over 470 Appalachian mountains have been decapitated in the hunt for coal

They don’t appear to like mountains in the “mountain state” of West Virginia. Yeager airport in Charleston, the state’s capital, sits atop what was once a peak and is now more of a plateau. Since the airport was built in 1947, more than 470 mountains have been decapitated in Appalachia, mostly in West Virginia and Kentucky. Here, geology never stood a chance against enterprise.

The mountains were disfigured in the hunt for coal, which is still used to generate almost half of America’s power. In the…

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