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08 Jan 2010: Scientists Call for an End
To Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

Mountaintop removal coal mining is causing “pervasive and irreversible damage” to Appalachian forests and streams and the federal government should stop issuing permits for new mines, according to a report issued by 12 environmental scientists. The report, published in the journal Science, reviewed

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NASA

NASA
Growth of the Hobet-21 mine in West Virginia
recent studies of the damage caused by mountaintop removal mining and found that the practice releases large amounts of toxic chemicals into streams, harming fish and birds and contaminating human drinking water supplies. The scientists said state and federal regulators have been paying surprisingly little attention to the damage caused by mountaintop removal mining, which involves blasting the tops off mountains to mine coal seams below, then dumping mining debris into streams. To date, 2,040 square miles of forested land have been destroyed and 2,000 miles of streams buried under mining debris. “Regulators should no longer ignore rigorous science,” the scientists wrote in their report. They recommended that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stop issuing new permits for mountaintop removal mines “unless new methods can be subjected to rigorous peer review and shown to remedy these problems.” The study’s lead author, Margaret Palmer of the University of Maryland, said, “The reason we’re willing to make a policy recommendation is that the evidence is so clear-cut.”
Watch an e360 video on mountaintop mining

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