The energy transition to coal in Appalachia came with great social and environmental costs, so the region is often described as a sacrifice zone. The region’s mineral wealth powered a nation only through an increasing scale and violence of mining, culminating in the radical strip-mining of the twenty-first century. This article takes a vantage point after the peak of coal in Appalachia and surveys not only this record of damage but also the power and insights of multiple generations of writers, musicians, and artists, from Harry Caudill and Jean Ritchie to Ann Pancake and Erik Reece. Articulating this longer-term cultural response is important if we are to imagine the next energy transition for Appalachia as one more promising for the area’s residents and ecology.


Additional Information

pp. 72-91
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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