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06 Jan 2010: Mountaintop Mining Project
Will Proceed Under Obama EPA Plan

A major mountaintop removal mining project in West Virginia will proceed in slightly scaled-back form under a compromise worked out between the Obama administration and the Patriot Coal company. Under the plan, the company has agreed to reduce the number of miles of stream buried under mining debris from six to three at the so-called Hobet 45 mine, and to take “avoidance and minimization measures” to reduce stream pollution. The decision angered environmental groups, which accused the Obama administration of retreating from its pledge to crack down on mountaintop mining, the highly destructive practice in which mining companies blast off the tops of mountains to get at the coal seams below. To date, roughly 2,000 miles of Appalachian streams have been buried under mining debris and hundreds of square miles of forest have been destroyed. The Obama administration is reviewing dozens of mountaintop removal projects, most of which, according to environmental groups, should be canceled because they violate the Clean Water Act. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it allowed the Hobet 45 project to proceed after Patriot agreed to soften the mine’s environmental impact. The 600-acre mine is one of the few in Appalachia where members of the United Mine Workers will be employed, and union officials and the state’s senior U.S. senator, Robert C. Byrd, praised the compromise agreement.
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