To the Virginia Department of Energy and Virginia Regulatory Town Hall,
My name is Jamie Montoya and I’m a Criminal Justice student at Montgomery College in the neighboring state of Maryland. In my studies at MC, I have had the opportunity to receive a course in Environmental Science per requirements of my degree. In this class, I have come to learn the importance and the gravity that humanity’s influence has on our environment, especially regarding ecological studies, environmentalism, and how our actions can have drastic impacts on the ecosystems around us.
Gold mining is certainly one of many destructive examples of how human activity has the potential of destroying habitats, contaminating life-sustaining water sources with toxic substances, and displacing communities of people who live in surrounding areas where gold mining is prevalent. I write this comment urging you to reconsider the idea of gold mining in the Commonwealth state of Virginia.
According to Clean Earth Technologies, gold mining has been identified as one of the human activities that may negatively impact the quality of the environment. As a process that removes soil and vegetation and produces burial beneath waste disposal sites, mining destroys natural ecosystems. Mining sites where the extraction of gold occurs is contaminated with all sorts of chemicals and heavy metals, if not extracted properly, which is what happens in the majority of these sites, these “heavy metals can be released into the environmental media, especially water, sediment and soil.” They also go on to say that tandem with changes in the physical and chemical properties in the Lithosphere, heavy metals in tailings can be transported to, dispersed to, and accumulated in plants and animals. They can also be passed up the food chain to human beings as the final consumers. If you were to believe that the mining of gold would not affect people, that would be a grave and erroneous conclusion. As this not only affects the food chain and the environment, but the gathering of miners and people willing to work in such conditions of those in the gold mines would mean risking their lives as well. There have been countless accounts of miners in the nation and out of the nation that have died while working in these mines, either from respiratory illnesses from breathing in the toxic air in these mines or from mines collapsing above them while they work for the gold they are pushed to find. Along with the repercussions to people, the environment is ultimately paying the price for the effects of gold mining. As we are all interconnected with the planet and the environment, what affects one affects all. Gold mining should have never existed nor should it continue to go on for the sake of the planet and those whom inhabit in it.