09 Sep 2009:
EPA Seeks Revocation
Of Largest Mountaintop Coal Mine Permit
The Obama administration, which promised to take “unprecedented steps” to rein in the environmentally destructive practice of mountaintop coal mining, is attempting to revoke the permit for the largest mountaintop removal project in West Virginia
. Citing the potential of the Spruce Mine “to
degrade downstream water quality” and do other environmental damage, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw a previously issued permit. The EPA said the mine project would violate the Clean Water Act by blasting off the top of a mountain and then burying eight miles of streams in debris from the 2,300-acre mine. The EPA cited “new information” and data showing that the mine owners could never replace the environmental functions performed by the affected streams and that other so-called “valley fills
” in Appalachia had seriously harmed stream ecology. The Spruce Mine project has been delayed by litigation, and the corps has asked a federal judge for time to study the EPA’s objections. Mountaintop coal mining has buried
roughly 800 miles of Appalachian streams and destroyed hundreds of square miles of woodlands.
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