EPA Quietly Approves New Mountaintop Removal Permit in Appalachia

For Immediate Release

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Tierra Curry,
(928) 522-3681

EPA Quietly Approves New Mountaintop Removal Permit in Appalachia

HUNTINGTON, W.V. - With the nation’s eyes on
the Gulf of Mexico disaster, the Environmental Protection Agency,
without publicly announcing the action, has approved a major new
mountaintop-removal coal mining permit in Logan County, West
Virginia. The permit approves the destruction of nearly three miles
of currently clean stream and 760 acres of forest, in a county where
at least 13 percent of the land has already been permitted for
surface coal mining. This is the first permit decision the EPA has
issued under its new mountaintop removal guidelines, which promised
“unprecedented steps” to reduce the negative impacts of surface coal
mining on water quality, aquatic life and human health in
Appalachia.

“After very publicly stating in April that ‘no or
very few’ new valley fills would be permitted, the EPA quietly
permitted three new valley fills,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist
with the Center for Biological Diversity. “By approving this permit
EPA is willfully ignoring the science showing that mountaintop
removal causes irreversible damage to both people and wildlife in
Appalachia.”

Pollution from mountaintop removal mining has been
found to cause deformities and reproductive failure in downstream
wildlife and has been associated with cancer clusters in human
communities exposed to high levels of coal-mining activity. Human
health impacts result from contact with polluted water and from
exposure to airborne toxins and dust. Mountaintop removal also
causes widespread damage of private property. Earlier this month a
state of emergency was declared in southern West Virginia after
flooding ravaged the area; a recent study has found that mountaintop
removal and valley fill operations lead to increased risk of
flooding.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

“The available science clearly demonstrates that the
Obama administration should ban mountaintop-removal coal mining and
fund the development of an alternative green economy in Appalachia,”
said Curry.

Mountaintop-removal coal mining has already
destroyed more than 500 mountains, more than 1 million acres of
hardwood forest, and more than 2,000 miles of streams in Appalachia.
A study in the journal Science found that the damage caused
to the environment by mountaintop removal is irreversible and cannot
be repaired with mitigation.

 

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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