For Immediate Release
Nichols, WildEarth Guardians, (303) 573-4898 x 1303
Kassie Siegel, Center for Biological Diversity, (760) 366-2232 x 302,
Ginny Cramer, Sierra Club, (804) 225-9113 x 102
Ted Zukoski, Earthjustice, (303) 996-9622
EPA Called on to Set National Limits on Air Pollution From U.S. Coal Mines
Mines Endanger Public Health, Safety and the Climate
WASHINGTON - A
coalition of environmental groups today called on the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency to put public health and safety first, and to
the first time ever, limits on air pollution from coal mines throughout
to finally hold coal mines accountable to our health, safety and
said Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth
Guardians. “With mines spewing methane, dust, toxic orange clouds and
dangerous gases, we need a national response that puts clean air before
petition to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Earthjustice, WildEarth
the Center for Biological Diversity, the Environmental Integrity Project
Sierra Club called for the agency to exercise its authority under the
Act to both list coal mines as a source of harmful air pollution and
best systems of emission reduction are used to keep this pollution in
Such standards have been adopted for gravel mines, coal-fired power
coal-processing plants and dozens of other sources, but currently no
limits exist on air pollution from coal mines.
have gotten a free pass for far too long,” said Kassie Siegel with the
for Biological Diversity. “It’s essential to establish these
to reduce air pollution from coal mines — including closed mines no
producing coal — while we transition as rapidly as possible away from
on dirty, dangerous, coal-fired power.”
comes as attention increasingly focuses on methane emissions from coal
Methane is major a safety hazard, contributing to a number of mine
over the years, including the most recent Upper Big Branch Mine disaster
Virginia. Methane is also a potent greenhouse gas. The EPA has
methane, with more than 20 times the heat-trapping ability of carbon
dioxide, endangers public health
and welfare. It also contributes to ground-level ozone pollution, the
ingredient of smog. Nationally, coal mines are responsible for 10
percent of all
human-caused methane emissions, yet no standards exist to control these
the EPA has established national limits on methane emissions from
solid waste landfills, and the agency’s own reports show methane
coal mines can be exceptionally cost effective. Overall, the EPA
than 85 percent of all U.S. coal-mine methane emissions can be
eliminated at a
cost of $15/ton; with health benefits factored in, the payback could be
as $240/ton of methane reduced.
is a dangerous gas, but it’s probably the most cost effective to
Aaron Isherwood with the Sierra Club. “The health, safety and climate
of reducing methane from coal mines are simply too important to
petition also calls on the EPA administrator to adopt strict limits on
dangerous air pollutants released from coal mines, including particulate
nitrogen oxide gases and volatile organic compounds — all toxic air
under the Clean Air Act.
oxides are an especially visible example of the problem. Blasting at
mines, such as those in the Powder River Basin of northeastern Wyoming,
dense, orange clouds of nitrogen oxides. No standards currently limit
pollution from coal mines. Instead, signs posted along public highways
orange clouds, advising people to “Avoid Contact.”
industries are already required to do their part to protect the air we
said Ted Zukoski, a staff attorney with Earthjustice. “It’s time for the
hold the coal industry accountable for its air pollution
are asking the EPA to respond to the petition within 180 days.
To read the
petition, click here.
of methane venting at the West Elk Coal Mine in Western
Colorado, see http://picasaweb.google.com/
images of orange clouds and warning signs in the Powder River Basin of
Guardians is a Western U.S.-based nonprofit dedicated to protecting and
restoring the wildlife, wild places, and wild rivers of the American
The Center for
Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more
255,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of
species and wild places.
Integrity Project combines research, reporting, media outreach, and the
litigation to ensure that environmental laws are enforced, are
inform and empower the public.
Club is a national nonprofit organization of approximately 1.3 million
and supporters dedicated to exploring, enjoying, and protecting the wild
of the earth; to practicing and promoting the responsible use of the
ecosystems and resources; to educating and enlisting humanity to protect
restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to using
lawful means to carry out these objectives.
is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the
places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending
right of all people to a healthy environment.
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