Mining: Controlling the Strippers

Strip coal mining has provoked a heap of feudin' and fightin' lately in the poverty-pocked Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky. Behind the legal protection of mineral-rights grants dating from the last century, companies have let mine debris bury trees, pollute streams with fish-killing acids, even damage homes with boulders and shale cascading down mountainsides. One woman watched in horror as a bulldozer uprooted the coffin of her infant son, sent it tumbling down the hill behind her house. Since last summer, sporadic gunfire has erupted between the angry mountaineers and the armed guards of the mine operators.

Last week Kentucky's legislature...

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