October 30, 1998
Poll: Most oppose mountaintop removal

More West Virginians are aware of the mountaintop removal technique of surface mining than five months ago, and a majority believe regulators should curtail the practice in some form, according to the West Virginia Poll released Thursday.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said they had heard some news or a lot about mountaintop removal, compared with 35 percent in a similar poll in May.

Despite the increased knowledge, opposition to the practice remains about the same.

The poll found that 53 percent of respondents opposed mountain removal mining, 29 percent favored it, and 18 percent did not know or had no opinion. That compares to 52 percent opposed, 32 percent in favor and 16 percent with no opinion in the May poll.

The poll interviewed 406 adults by telephone between Oct. 19 and 21 for the Charleston Daily Mail and WSAZ-TV of Huntington. It was conducted by Ryan-McGinn-Samples Research Inc. of Charleston and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. When asked about the mountaintop removal permitting process, the poll found 38 percent of respondents said state regulators should reduce the number of mountaintop removal permits, 28 percent said regulators should ban the mining technique, 20 percent said the practice should be allowed to continue as it is now, and 13 percent were undecided.

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In West Virginia, mining companies are literally moving mountains to uncover valuable, low sulfur coal reserves. Mountaintop removal has become the dominant form of surface mining in the state. Coal operators are blasting off hilltops, and dumping leftover rock and dirt into nearby valleys. An untold amount of the state has been flattened, and hundreds of miles of streams have been buried. Find out more in this Special Report.
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