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House Democrats Speak Out Against Mountain Top Removal

House Democrats Speak Out Against Mountain Top Removal

Fifty House Democrats have joined together to support of new mining regulations that rein in mountain top removal mining.

The letter was sent to EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson just days after the State of West Virginia filed a lawsuit against the agency and the Army Corp of Engineers.

West Virginia’s Gov. Joe Manchin (D) accused the government of purposefully delaying 23 pending mountain top removal mining permits and harming the state’s economy in the process.

Although the Democrats didn’t mention Manchin or the lawsuit directly in the letter, it is believed that their timing was intentional.

“When scientific research shows that surface mining routinely violates downstream water quality standards,” the Democrats wrote, “it is critical for EPA to ensure that states and mining companies are aware of the pollution levels that cause harm, that discharge permits incorporate adequate safeguards, and that the permits are enforced.”

In April, the EPA announced a set of actions to further clarify and strengthen environmental permitting requirements for Appalachian mountaintop removal and other surface coal mining projects.

“The ultimate success of the new guidance depends upon effective implementation by EPA and its regional offices,” the letter continued. “Mining companies and some state agencies may reject this guidance, but we strongly urge the EPA to carry it out aggressively.”

Mountaintop removal is a form of surface coal mining in which explosives are used to access coal seams, generating large volumes of waste that bury adjacent streams. The resulting waste that then fills valleys and streams can significantly compromise water quality, often causing permanent damage to ecosystems and rendering streams unfit for swimming, fishing and drinking.

It is estimated that almost 2,000 miles of Appalachian headwater streams have been buried by mountaintop removal coal mining.

Among those endorsing the letter were Reps. Frank Pallone (N.J.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Henry Waxman (Calif.), Pete Stark (Calif.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.).

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82 comments

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10:52AM PDT on Apr 16, 2013

Go Democrats in Congress- stop these companies from completing the destruction of Appalachia and our country.

The people living and trying to work in Appalachia need real jobs and education, not having their beautiful environment turn into dust and their water and futures destroyed!!

The W. Virginia Gov. is short sited and in the pocket of the mining companies.
Getting these corrupt politician's exposed and $$ out of out political system is another goal.

4:55PM PDT on Jun 12, 2011

I just learned of this recently and am appalled at the environmental destruction that has been allowed to go on. A damn TRAGEDY!!! It has to stop

1:28PM PDT on May 20, 2011

Would be nice to have an update on this also.

6:22AM PDT on May 20, 2011

I live in West Virginia and we have battled Massey for what seems like forever. We have the finest state government Massey could buy. Massey never ever pays their fines or corrects anything. All Massey cares about is how much money they can make. They have all but destroyed our beautiful state and ruined the health of so many people. They need to be put out of business and our so called governor needs to be in jail right next to the Massey owners. They should be forced to rebuild the mountains and clean up the mess they made of so many lives.

6:50AM PDT on Apr 6, 2011

Manchin's only motivation is the money he gets paid by the mining companies for allowing them to blow up and destroy the mountains of West Virginia. MTR mining only employs a few people and profits the mining companies immensly. It's a shame the people of West Virginia have such a dirty scumbag for a governor.

9:02AM PST on Nov 9, 2010

Manchin's primary argument centers around jobs. What is neglected is the fact that surface mining results in fewer jobs. In the years that surface mining has been used the number of coal jobs has declined by somewhere around 65%. But guess what, coal profits are maximized. So, coal makes more money, the environment goes to hell, and the people get poorer and have more health problems. Most environmentalists recognize the need for coal for a few more years, but insist that surface mining and mountaintop mining does too much irreparable damage to the forests, mountains, streams, and people of Appalachia. At this time few of us are demanding the end of deep mining, but we all demand an end to surface mining, especially mountaintop removal.

1:47PM PDT on Oct 19, 2010

I guess that W.VA's governor didn't get the message (or care if he did) about the UN meeting concerning the lack of biodiversity killing off the human race. Evidently he's in the pocket of the mining companies.

12:22PM PDT on Oct 19, 2010

Although I'm from Belgium without any mines anymore, I dislike this kind of brutal mining (explosives with zerosurfacemining).
Not only for coal but for other minerals, too.

11:04AM PDT on Oct 19, 2010

"23 pending mountain top removal permits pending." Imagine the devistation if they're permitted to do this, there's gotta be a better way...

6:51AM PDT on Oct 19, 2010

Thank you

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Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
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