Born in Louisville, KY.
University of Kentucky, Lexington, teacher of English and writing.
Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness: Radical Strip Mining and the Devastation of Appalachia,Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including Harper's and Oxford American.
Erik Reece is the author of Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness: Radical Strip Mining and the Devastation of Appalachia.His book examines the consequences of the extreme strip-mining methods frequently used by the coal-mining industry. For a year, Reece hiked around the sides of Lost Mountain, in eastern Kentucky, which had been home to one of the oldest and most diverse forest ecosystems in North America. He watched as the top of the mountain was literally removed, by a process of blasting and bulldozing, until only a denuded and level landscape remained. Valleys around the mountain were filled in with the rubble that remained after the blasting and excavating took place. Laws dictate that the affected landscape be "reclaimed," but the letter of the law is able to be fulfilled simply by planting native grasses. Unlike the multiple species that formerly populated the land, these grasses allow toxic minerals to leach into streams and groundwater, leading to massive contamination in mining areas. Promises that mining would lead to economic improvement for the Appalachian region have not come to fruition, and large energy companies routinely utilize questionable business practices to minimize their investment and losses in their mining ventures. Despite the widespread and lasting damage done by strip-mining and mountaintop removal, Reece states that the issue fails to attract the attention of other environmental causes, such as drilling for oil in the Arctic.
Reviewing Lost Mountain in OnEarth, Fenton Johnson noted that it "portrays the complicity and duplicity of both the energy companies and the government in this destruction," but also places blame with the average consumer: "Electricity consumption in the United States has risen seventy percent in the past twenty years, as our desire for electric-powered gadgets has soared and suburbs filled with inefficiently powered homes have continued to sprawl." A Kirkus Reviewswriter found that Lost Mountain tells the story of strip mining "in anxious chapters written with an eye for abiding, catastrophic imagery." Reece's book is powerful, an "excoriating expose," according to Booklistreviewer Carol Haggas, who called for "resounding kudos" for the author in response to his work in "vividly bringing this critical story to light."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 2006, Carol Haggas, review ofLost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness: Radical Strip Mining and the Devastation of Appalachia, p. 14.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2005, review of Lost Mountain, p. 1314.
Library Journal, February 1, 2006, Nancy Moeckel, review of Lost Mountain, p. 102.
Mother Jones, March-April, 2006, Marc Herman, review of Lost Mountain, p. 84.
OnEarth, spring, 2006, Fenton Johnson, review ofLost Mountain, p. 38.
Publishers Weekly, December 5, 2005, review of Lost Mountain, p. 45.