The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681

EPA Vetoes Permit for Largest Mountaintop-Removal Mine Ever Proposed in Appalachia


The Environmental Protection Agency today denied a crucial Clean Water Act permit for the largest-ever proposed mountaintop-removal coal
mine in Appalachia. The agency's veto of the permit for the
controversial Spruce Mine in Logan County, W.V., is the first-ever
retroactive denial of a mining permit. The permit had already been
approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but the EPA had authority
to overrule that decision. Its permit denial means the mine cannot go
forward as planned.

"We applaud the EPA for following the law and the science
and acting to protect the nation's wildlife and the citizens of
Appalachia from the devastation of mountaintop removal," said Tierra
Curry, Appalachia native and a biologist at the Center for Biological
Diversity. "Mountaintop-removal coal mining must end, and today the
agency took a historic step in the right direction."

The proposed coal mine would have destroyed 2,300 acres
of forest and buried nearly seven miles of streams. The EPA reviewed
more than 50,000 public comments on the proposed mine. Its veto is
based on water-pollution impacts, including downstream fish kills.
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 communities exposed to high
levels of coal-mining activity. In some counties in Kentucky and West
Virginia, nearly a quarter of the total land area has been permitted
for surface coal mining. Coal-field residents have been fighting the
Spruce Mine proposal since 1998.

"It is time for surface coal mining in Appalachia to end.
Forty years of surface mining have kept the region locked in poverty
and devastated the health of people and the environment. The Obama
administration must ban mountaintop removal and fund the creation of a
green economy in this beautiful region," 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.

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.

(520) 623-5252