The Skywriter

EPA Authority Tackles Big Coal and MTR

19
Oct

EPA Authority Tackles Big Coal and MTR

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Just two weeks ago, many groups like 1Sky joined the Appalachia Rising! rally in Washington, D.C. to call for an end to mountaintop removal mining. Last week, a big announcement related to mountaintop removal mining in coal country showed again why we need EPA authority to protect our air, land, and water in the absence of real clean energy legislation from Congress.

The EPA announced that the agency recommended a withdrawal of the Clean Water Act permit for the Spruce Fork No. 1 mine in Logan County, West Virginia. The agency's press release stated,

The Spruce mine is one of the largest mountaintop removal mines ever proposed in Central Appalachia, and would result in the destruction of 2,278 acres of temperate rainforest and the burying of 7.5 miles of streams in the Spruce Fork sub-watershed."

The EPA also says of the mine on its website:

The EPA has reason to believe that the Spruce No. 1 Mine, as currently authorized, could result in unacceptable adverse effects to fish and wildlife resources."

Mountaintop removal opponents like the ILoveMountains coalition praised last week's recommendation, but also called on their supporters to ask their senators to sponsor the Appalachia Restoration Act (S. 696), an important bill to sharply reduce mountaintop removal coal mining and protect clean drinking water:

While this news is great for the communities adjacent to the mine, there are hundreds of similar communities being polluted and poisoned every day by other mountaintop removal mining operations.

It's just one step, but a welcome one. We're amazed to see so much coming out of the EPA this year, but it's happened in the absence of new, comprehensive legislation to tackle these issues. Without these kinds of EPA rulings and recommendations under the authority of laws like the Clean Air Act or Clean Water Act, there are few laws we have in place to stop Dirty Coal and protect our families and resources.

But coal has a lot of resources to fight back. The recent attacks on the Clean Air Act in the Senate and House make it too obvious that coal is out to end any regulation that stops their dirty energy practices and it shows how much money they funnel towards Congress to keep them up. Last week's announcement was another step in the right direction from the EPA, one we're hoping Congress will follow.

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