More affluent communities might have stopped them, but not Appalachia, "a land unto itself, cut off by" mountains East and West, its people too poor, isolated and cowed by generations of King Coal dominance to stop the destruction of their communities, homes and lives.
Moreover, few Americans elsewhere know it or even care. They're oblivious to "three million (daily) pounds of explosives" destroying a mountain culture, producing the most toxic fossil fuel used to supply more than half of the nation's electricity, as well as power for manufacturers of paper, chemicals, metal products, plastics, ceramics, fertilizers, tar, and high carbon coke used for steel industry metal processing.
In addition, other coal-derived compounds and residues are used in many other manufacturing processes for synthetic rubber, fiber, insecticides, paints, medicines and solvents.
A 2010 Environmental Integrity Project/Sierra Club/EarthJustice study, however, found that ash produced by coal-fired power plants contaminated ground water and air with dangerous toxins, including arsenic, benzene, mercury and lead. They're linked to cancer, congestive heart failure, nervous system damage, respiratory diseases, asthma, other health related problems, and lower life expectancies.
Moreover, the Union of Concerned Scientists calls coal burning "a leading cause of smog, acid rain, global warming, and air toxins," saying each year a typical coal plant generates:
-- "3,700,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2)," the equivalent of "cutting down 161 million trees;
-- 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2)," causing acid rain damaging forests, lakes, and physical structures, as well as harmful airborne particles able to penetrate deeply into lungs;
-- "500 tons of small airborne particles, (responsible for) chronic bronchitis, aggravated asthma, and premature death, as well as haze obstructing visibility;"