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Story | Jun 23, 2011 | 4:30 AMIn a typical year, more than one-half of the electricity generated within Maryland comes from coal-fired plants. Most of these plants burn coal shipped from West Virginia and Pennsylvania. In communities all throughout the Appalachian Mountains, the coal industry has dominated political, social and economic life for the past 120 years. Practices such as strip mining and, more recently, mountain top removal, have been used by coal companies for more than 60 years to break the once-powerful labor unions and cut jobs. These practices involve using explosives to blow the tops off mountains to extract the coal below. They lead to the destruction of beautiful mountains, biodiversity, and the pollution of air and water.