Among the various indecent things America does to get energy, mountaintop removal mining—a process by which mountains are literally flattened for coal, creating rivers of toxic sludge and clouds of pollution as byproducts—is one of the worst.
There are lots of ways to illustrate the evils of mountaintop removal mining with words. Ben Jervey did a great job in this post. But here's an illustration with pictures. The animation below, created with satellite images recently released by NASA, shows the destruction wrought by the West Virginia Hobet coal mine from 1984 to 2010.
NASA has more information about this particular mine, and about mountaintop removal mining in general. It's not just hippie bloggers that don't like this practice:
In February 2010, a team of scientists published a review of research on mountaintop mining and valley fills in the journal Science. The scientists concluded that the impacts on stream and groundwater quality, biodiversity, and forest productivity were "pervasive and irreversible" and that current strategies for mitigation and restoration were not compensating for the degradation.
You can see larger, higher quality versions of the images here.