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Finally, Washington Frowns on Mountaintop Removal Mining

When the EPA revoked a permit for decapitating West Virginia's mountains, some politicians decided the sky was falling.

Jim Hightower

At last, a small spark of sanity from Washington. After making a full scientific assessment of environmental impacts, the EPA has revoked the permit for the largest mountaintop removal project ever to assault the natural resources and the people of Appalachia.

Unfortunately, this spark of sanity set off an explosion of babbling madness by the coal mining giants. Arch Coal, the permit's holder, said the company was "shocked and dismayed" that the Environmental Protection Agency would dare revoke it, shrieking that this was an "onslaught" by an "overreaching" agency that "will have a chilling effect on future U.S. investments."

Then came West Virginia's corporate-hugging senator, Joe Manchin III. "It goes without saying," he began, before proceeding to say what didn't need saying. Parroting Arch Coal's script, the conservative Democrat called the revocation "a shocking display of overreach" that "will have a chilling effect on investments." A cabal of non-mining corporate interests followed suit with a frantic Chicken Little imitation. The implications of pulling this one permit, they screeched, will be "staggering" to the whole U.S. economy.

Get a grip, people. This permit should never have been issued in the first place. It was carelessly handed out by the Bush regime, which was infested with industry operatives. Now, the EPA has merely done the responsible environmental assessment that the Bushites refused to do. Talk about an "onslaught" that would be "shocking," "chilling," and "staggering"--Bush's permit would have let Arch Coal decapitate all the mountains in a 2,300-acre stretch of Appalachia, shove the toxic rubble and waste into the valleys, bury the streams, kill the wildlife, and pollute the water supply of people downstream.

Mountaintop removal is a brutal, totally destructive abomination done solely to make quick profits for a handful of coal executives and rich absentee investors. It's about time these companies were told to stop it.

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Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He's also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

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