Environment: Why Does the Gem Cross the Road?

THE Gem of Egypt, which looks something like a cross between a lobster and a skyscraper, stands 20 stories high and weighs 7,000 tons. Tearing up earth at a rate of 200 tons per bite, the Hanna Coal Co.'s Gem (actually an acronym for Giant Earth Mover) has stripped the top 80 ft. of soil off the area around Hendrysburg, Ohio, so that other machines can gouge out the underlying coal. Now the Gem wants to move across Interstate Highway 70 and chew its way toward Barnesville (pop. 4,300), ten miles to the south.

Back in 1964 the Hanna Co. persuaded federal...

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