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EPA Making Molehill Out of Mountaintop Removal?

Rob Perks

Posted March 24, 2009

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A few hours ago I applauded EPA's move today to revisit two pending mining permits at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would allow mountaintop removal in Kentucky and West Virginia.  Like many others, I held out hope that EPA's action would lead to an immediate freeze on the hundreds of pending MTR permits, based on concerns about environmental impacts on Appalachian streams.

Now I'm disappointed and more than a little confused by EPA's "clarifying" statement issued this evening.  Based on this, it appears that EPA is taking a positive step forward -- but it's a more of a baby step.  To wit:

EPA Statement on Mining Permit Applications

Contact: Adora Andy, 202-564-2715 /

Following reports that mischaracterize actions taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agency press secretary Adora Andy today issued a statement regarding mining permit applications:
The Environmental Protection Agency is not halting, holding or placing a moratorium on any of the mining permit applications. Plain and simple. EPA has issued comments on two pending permit applications to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expressing serious concerns about the need to reduce the potential harmful impacts on water quality. EPA will take a close look at other permits that have been held back because of the 4th Circuit litigation.  We fully anticipate that the bulk of these pending permit applications will not raise environmental concerns.  In cases where a permit does raise environmental concerns, we will work expeditiously with the Army Corps of Engineers to determine how these concerns can be addressed. EPA's submission of comments to the Corps on draft permits is a well-established procedure under the Clean Water Act to assure that environmental considerations are addressed in the permitting process.

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Scott BakerMar 25 2009 05:10 PM

It's a black day...again.
You know, it would be a whole lot simpler if we just let the coal companies keep all their profits, but taxed the heck out of them for their resource use (coal really belongs to all of us and the community should be paid directly for every ton that gets dug up), their pollution and their land, water and air use. If we based these taxes on science, I doubt many coal companies could survive, even if they got to keep all their profits. This type of geonomic solution - tax the resource, not the fruits of labor and production - should be their last chance. If they still can't clean up their act, we need to shut these mines down and move to clean renewables (who would come out WAY ahead under a Geonomic incentives plan).

Em TurnerMar 25 2009 10:49 PM

The coal companies and their hired legal hands do not care if the entire Appalachian region is depopulated--and flattened--so long as they get their coal.
We need to move to clean renewables in any case.

Joan from VirginiaMar 26 2009 11:02 AM

This is a slap in the face of those who suffer in the Appalachian mountains due to mountaintop removal coal mining. Did the coal lobbyists and their "in their pocket" politicians get to the EPA? Sad day.

Rachel BargeMar 26 2009 12:49 PM

How can ANY mountaintop removal permit NOT "raise environmental concerns"? It's one of the most environmentally devastating practices there is! How can blowing up ancient forest and mountaintops, dumping millions of pounds of toxic waste debris into pristine streams, and then operating huge diesel machines to dig out the most dirty fossil fuel source NOT be considered environmentally damaging? I feel like this is a throwback to our Orwellian Bush days...

Tim MullinsMar 27 2009 01:11 AM

Appalachia is being bombed, blasted and bulldozed right into 3rd world America, we can't stand anymore of the prosperity.

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