Environment: Defeat for the Strippers

For the U.S., coal will be one of the saving alternatives to oil as an energy source, and the easiest way to meet the nation's rising coal needs is to strip-mine. But strip mining — ripping off a top layer of earth to get at the coal underground — has done so much damage in the past that it is a prime target for environmentalists.

Half of U.S. coal output already comes from surface mines, and energy companies have taken leases on large chunks of the huge unexploited coal reserves of the West, where low-sulfur coal lies close to the surface. But...

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