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Friday, January 14, 2011

EPA Vetoes Massive Mountaintop Removal Coal Mine

By JW Randolph, originally posted at Appalachian Voices

EPA announced Thursday that they will be vetoing the largest mountaintop removal permit in WV history.

Appalachian Voices is thrilled to hear that EPA will be vetoing this permit in order to protect human health and aquatic ecosystems in central Appalachia. EPA's own science has shown that mountaintop removal has permanent negative impacts on Appalachia, and we hope they will continue to stand strong in stopping mine permits that will have a negative impact on the well-being of the central Appalachian land and people.

EPA's Peter Silva hit the nail on the head:

The proposed Spruce No. 1 Mine would use destructive and unsustainable mining practices that jeopardize the health of Appalachian communities and clean water on which they depend. Coal and coal mining are part of our nation’s energy future, and EPA has worked with companies to design mining operations that adequately protect our nation’s water. We have responsibility under the law to protect water quality and safeguard the people who rely on clean water.
The bottom line is that we don't need to poison our streams and our communities in order to mine coal in the central Appalachian region. Three cheers to EPA for doing what is right, even though they faced tremendous political pressure to let this harmful and toxic mine just slide by.

Congress can make these protections permanent, while adding stability and clarity to the process by passing popular bipartisan legislation such as the Clean Water Protection Act (House) and Appalachia Restoration Act (Senate). Recently, 50 members of Congress sent a letter to EPA thanking them for doing the right thing by taking steps to end mountaintop removal. Congressman Rahall (D-WV) also said that legislation to end the practice had more than 400 votes in the House, but that he was the only person blocking the bill. Its time that Representatives like Congressman Rahall and Senator Manchin start protecting their constituents and stop wasting their time and political capital defending a destructive, toxic, and unnecessary practice like mountaintop removal. Its time that our elected officials start thinking less about appeasing the coal lobby and more about protecting Appalachian citizens who live in communities where coal is mined.

In one of his last public statements, Senator Robert C. Byrd said:
It is also a reality that the practice of mountaintop removal mining has a diminishing constituency in Washington. It is not a widespread method of mining, with its use confined to only three states. Most members of Congress, like most Americans, oppose the practice, and we may not yet fully understand the effects of mountaintop removal mining on the health of our citizens.
Ken Ward has more at Coal Tattoo and Jeff Biggers has a beautiful piece at HuffPo called EPA Vetoes Largest Mountaintop Removal Permit: New Era of Civility in the Coalfields? .

Congratulations to every single person who helped make this possible.

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