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Charlie Branham, a former coal miner, poses with his wife Donna outside their home in Lenore, West Virginia. Donna Branham shaved her head on the steps of the West Virginia Capitol with a group of women in protest to mountaintop-removal mining. The shaving of their heads was symbolic of the mountains that have been stripped of all of the living things on them. It was also symbolic of the many people who are sick or dying as the result of Mountaintop Removal. Mountaintop Removal is a method of surface mining that literally removes the tops of mountains to get to the coal seams beneath. It is the most profitable mining technique available because it is performed quickly, cheaply and comes with hefty economic benefits for the mining companies, most of which are located out of state. It is the most profitable mining technique available because it is performed quickly, cheaply and comes with hefty economic benefits for the mining companies, most of which are located out of state. Many argue that they have brought wage-paying jobs and modern amenities to Appalachia, but others say they have only demolished an estimated 1.4 million acres of forested hills, buried an estimated 2,000 miles of streams, poisoned drinking water, and wiped whole towns from the map. "People don't know how hard it is on the Appalachian people," Branham said of mountaintop-removal mining. "They have no idea. And they don't want to know. As long as they don't have to look at it, they can ignore it."