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EPA Denies New Mining Permits and Takes a Hard Look At Mountaintop Removal

EPA Denies New Mining Permits and Takes a Hard Look At Mountaintop Removal

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.

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9:06AM PDT on Oct 4, 2009 nice photo essay of West Virginia Community

8:17AM PDT on Oct 4, 2009

If something doesn't happen really soon the world as we know it today will be gone.

Thank God the EPA is stepping up to the plate TODAY!!!

7:26AM PDT on Oct 4, 2009

EPA is remiss in its responsibilities. Look only at what they are allowing in the nation's largest Superfund site and at a National Historic Monument. Recent EPA comments have set back the work of the area's only grassroots organization 20+ years.
Silver Valley Action and Stop Toxic Pollution in the Silver Valley on facebook
And please sign the petition here
Sierra Club has done nothing to support the work of SVCRC on the issues here, inlcuding required testing for heavy metals and lead.
Arsenic is in the water in W VA from the coal mining so they face many of the same concerns.

11:07AM PDT on Oct 3, 2009

Trouble is, the first jurisdiction for approving or denying a permit is the responsibility of the State and regional regulatory bodies Strip Mine Reclamation Act (SMCRA). The Obama administration has just confirmed a staunch strip mine, MTR supporter to the main position in that department. The EPA can do a lot to put it down through water and air pollution regulations but it is too early to cheer that it is finally under control or stopped.

10:04AM PDT on Oct 2, 2009

The MYTH of "clean coal" needs to be debunked. I worked for a company that was trying to develop what they called a nucoalizer and it never came to fruition.

9:55AM PDT on Oct 2, 2009

Yay for the EPA!

9:40AM PDT on Oct 2, 2009

Janis, unfortunately there is such a thing as protocol. The EPA has to conduct an investigation and record it's findings. Everything has to be recorded so that it can be referred to in the future. The EPA, during the Bush years, had little choice as to what they could do. Bush deregulated Everything and basically limited them! LOL How Backward is That? Now the EPA is back to doing what it is Supposed to be doing (for the most part) and I, for one, am Glad of it! The new Climate Bill introduced is a big step in the right direction. Let's hope the EPA does the right thing after the completion of the investigation but 79 is a good start.

9:20AM PDT on Oct 2, 2009

Why not subsidize the poor people of appalachia with the money now used for oil and farm factories? Bush and the Republican party does not care about the environment and never have Just rape all for greed. Thank goodness The National Parks are saved by Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, they our the peoples. And I used to be a Republican***.

8:30AM PDT on Oct 2, 2009

I'm very uninformed on this topic but I like what I've read thus far. I'll definitely be looking into this further. Seems like a good first step indeed.

7:44AM PDT on Oct 2, 2009

Quite unbelievable. Why does the government need a study to see whether mountain top removal is destructive and harmful to the environment? Have they no common sense? Obviously not it seems, or they would not be spending tax payers money on something so utterly nonsensical.

To destroy any mountain top and then dump the debris from it into the surrounding valleys is just plain crazy. But doing this when no one should be mining for coal or any other fossil fuel at all anywhere, and especially in America, is totally bonkers.

We have good alternatives to coal and oil now, and unless we make the switch completely very soon we will destroy more than our mountain tops. Just what will it take to shake this country into realizing that we are killing our own planet. This isn't a maybe, this is a proven fact. We know how many species we have already made extinct, and the list is now growing at an alarming rate. We are not immune from becoming extinct, but what a shame that we are taking the whole planet and everything else on it with us.

Talk about stupid, start thinking and acting, not setting up more panels to see if something so obviously and proven destructive might be! Our environment and all the species that depend on it cannot wait any longer. There is a very clear choice to be made, lose the coal, oil and factory farming or kiss goodbye to the earth as we know it.

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