For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Tierra Curry, (503) 283-5474

Statement on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ Decision to Allow Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining to Proceed Without Review

PORTLAND, Oregon - The Center for Biological Diversity is disappointed by the decision issued on
Friday, February 13th, by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia,
allowing mountaintop removal coal mining to proceed without full consideration
of the environmental impacts. Mountaintop removal is a radical form of coal
mining in which the peaks of mountains are blasted off with explosives and the
waste materials are dumped directly into streams, causing irreversible
ecological damage.

removal coal mining is devastating to mountains, streams and people in Appalachia," said Tierra Curry, conservation
biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "The devastation
caused by mountaintop removal in combination with the millions of tons of
pollutants, including greenhouse gases, released by burning coal clearly demonstrates
that there is no such thing as clean coal."

Circuit Court ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has the authority to
issue Clean Water Act permits for mountaintop removal coal mines without
extensive environmental review. The ruling overturned a decision issued in
March 2007 by U.S. District Judge Chuck Chambers that required full
consideration of the environmental effects of mountaintop removal and slowed
the issuing of new permits. Friday's decision will allow up to 90 more
mountain peaks to be annihilated by mountaintop removal mines.

December 2008 the Bush administration repealed a rule requiring buffers around
streams, where wastes from mountaintop removal could not be dumped.  With
repeal of the rule, coal companies will be able to dump tons of mining waste
directly into streams without violating the Clean Water Act.

Congress or the Obama administration need to reinstate the Stream Buffer Zone
rule and to pass the Clean Water Protection Act," said Curry. "But
better yet, mountaintop removal should be prohibited and the burning of coal immediately
phased out to save the planet from dangerous climate change."

mountaintop removal coal mining began in 1970, an estimated 1.5 million acres
of hardwood forest have been lost, over 470 mountaintops have been permanently
destroyed, and 1,200 miles of streams have been buried.

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