For the past 20 years, coal operators have been removing the tops off peaks and ridges and plugging up streams in the Appalachian Mountains, one of the world’s oldest ranges, allowing them to mine more coal with fewer people than they can with traditional mining. Today, the Bush Administration is issuing new rules for a practice that can change the landscape of southwestern Virginia, southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, and wreak havoc on fish, wildlife—and people. The old rules said mine operators had to prove they would not damage water supplies. The new ones say it’s alright, as long as they plan to make repairs later. We consider how the drive for cheap energy and oil independence impacts the environment and public health.