EPA Makes Two Major Announcements Worth Celebrating

Posted: April 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

In the past week and a half we’ve had two very exciting announcements from the EPA!

First, on March 26, the EPA announced that it was vetoing Arch Coal Co.’s permit for the Spruce No.1 mine in Logan County, West Virginia. The Spruce No.1 site is one of the largest surface mining operations ever authorized in Appalachia, and the largest in West Virginia. For over a decade, Arch Coal and the federal government have been in court on and off over the fate of the mine. In 2007, the company was given the go ahead and Arch Coal began strip mining.

The EPA reviews permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that they comply with the Clean Water Act. The EPA has used it’s authority to veto only 12 times since 1972, when the Clean Water Act was passed. It has never vetoed an already permitted mine like Spruce No. 1.

This is an unprecedented move by the EPA. In our correspondence with Jeff Lapp and Shawn Garvin, we have pressured them about the Spruce No.1 permit. It seems that our efforts were effective. This is a huge victory!

For more information about the Spruce No. 1 Permit veto, check out solveclimate.com’s article.

Second, on April 1, in a move so amazing it almost felt like an April Fools joke, the EPA issued new guidelines for reviewing MTR permits! Probably the most exciting of these is the end of valley fills. Valley fills are just what they sound like – all the waste from mining is dumped into a valley, where toxins can leak downstream into water. In their announcement, the EPA said that from now on they will allow “no or very few” valley fills. Kate Rooth from Rainforest Action Network has a good take-down of the guidelines. You can read the EPA’s news release and guideline summary, “Comprehensive Guidance to Protect Appalachian Communities From Harmful Environmental Impacts of Mountaintop Mining”, here. The full statement can be read here.

These are HUGE victories for the campaign! Thank you so much to all of you who have helped pressure the EPA to make this happen!


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