On the heels of a recent decision to deny 79 of its almost 200 mountaintop removal mining permits, the Environmental Protection Agency is planning to launch an in-depth study of the coal mining practice and the negative impact of its “valley-fill” procedure.
In an article published by the Charleston Gazette of West Virginia, an area of the Appalachian Mountains particularly affected by mountaintop removal mining, it was reported that “the Obama administration has quietly put together plans for a major scientific review of the environmental impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining.”
According to a notice published by EPA officials in the federal register,”the EPA is seeking nominations to form an ad hoc panel, under the auspices of the agency’s Science Advisory Board, to provide expert advice to EPA ‘on a draft assessment of the ecological impacts associated with a surface coal mine technique known as mountaintop mining and valley-fill where mining overburden is placed in adjacent valleys.’” In a strange turn of events, the EPA is actually open to your nominations for members of the completed panel.
This is an encouraging development, especially considering that environmental activists and citizens opposed to mountaintop removal were disheartened when the EPA approved a handful of MTR permits earlier this year.
According to the e360 Digest, published by Yale University, “the study, announced without fanfare in the Federal Register, will also examine whether coal mining companies are meeting their obligations to restore Appalachian streams where millions of tons of mining debris have been dumped.”
However, as was noted by Ken Ward Jr., author of the Charleston Gazette piece, “cultural, aesthetic and human health impacts that may be associated with this mining technique are not part of the scope of this current assessment.”
Maybe someday they’ll be brave enough to really face the negative impact mountaintop removal coal mining has on the air and water we all share, but this is a good first step.
For those that are ready to face it right now, the Sierra Club is helping people to organize grassroots events to show that they demand a clean energy future now, not in a hundred years from now.
Image Credit: mountainaction.org