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Mountain mining site
05.30.03
Science and Health:
The Impact of Mountaintop Mining
More on This Story:
In August 2002, NOW reported on the effects of mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virginia, and the controversy surrounding this method.

On May 29, 2003, a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was released by the Bush administration assessing the environmental and social impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining. The study confirmed that mountaintop removal coal mining has affected forest areas and streams in negative ways, and identifies proposed actions that government agencies might take to minimize the adverse effects of mountaintop mining operations and excess spoil valley fills.

Despite these findings, the Bush administration is expected to call for an easing of existing environmental restrictions on this mining method. The "Preferred" Action Alternative offered in the report recommends that "The agencies would developed enhanced coordination of regulatory actions, while maintaining independent review and decision making by each agency." According to Earthjustice, these changes include "getting rid of the surface mining law's buffer zone rule that prohibits mining activities to disturb within 100 feet of larger streams, eliminating the current limit on using nationwide permits to approve valley fills in West Virginia that are larger than 250 acres, and giving the Office of Surface Mining a greater role in Clean Water Act permitting."

The public comment period on the draft EIS extends through August 29, 2003.




Mountaintop Coal Mining Resources:

Appalachian Voices: Mountaintop Removal
A non-profit, environmental organization, Appalachian Voices' Web site provides information on the impact of Mountaintop coal mining practices on the environment and the community. Other features include a photo gallery of Mountaintop removal sites and a scholarly essay on mountaintop removal practices in the Appalachian Mountains. Related links are also included.

Arch Coal, Inc.
Arch Coal, Inc. is the nation's second largest coal producer and uses mountaintop mining methods in West Virginia. Its Web site supplies information on the company, the coal industry, and the company's financial situation for investors.

Bush Administration Approves Most Damaging Change to Clean Water Act in Decades
This press release from the Sierra Club decries the recent Bush Administration/EPA decision to allow the disposal of waste into the nation's waters. According to a senior counsel for Earth Justice, this decision is "the biggest threat to our nation's waters in decades."

CHARLESTON GAZETTE - Mountaintop Mining Series
Since early 1998, THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE and SUNDAY GAZETTE-MAIL have provided comprehensive coverage of the mountaintop mining controversy. A series of investigative articles by reporter Ken Ward Jr. from 1998 to date are collected here. They document the mining process, the legal challenges to mountaintop mining, the West Virginia mining industry and mountaintop mining's effect on those who live below. Editorials by Dan Radmacher have called for reforms in mountaintop mining practices.

Corps and EPA Clarify Clean Water Act Definition; New Environment Improvements Also to be Made in Appalachian Mining Rules
The Environmental Protection Agency's press release announcing the new coordinate and regulatory strategy to protect our nation's wetlands and streams. The EPA extols this new clarification of the Clean Water Act, stating, "the regulation will not only remove ambiguity from Clean Water Act's regulations, but also enhance environmental protection of our wetlands and streams by prohibiting the dumping of trash or garbage in them."

Earth Justice
Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the environment by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws. Earthjustice is currently endorsing legislation to stop the Bush Administration's revision of the Clean Water Act in the interest of mountaintop removal practices, calling it "both wrong and illegal."

Massey Energy Company
A low-cost producer of Appalachian coal, Massey Energy Company's Web site features detailed information about the company's operations, coal sales, industry issues, and investor relations.

Mountaintop Mining Alert Fact Sheet
From the United Mine Workers of America, this 1999 alert informs mine workers of the recent decision of a West Virginia judge that effectively banned mountaintop mining rather than merely regulating the practice.

Mountaintop Mining Site
This Web site from the Pennsylvanian EPA provides a brief history of the Mountaintop mining site in Rush Township, Centre County. Another feature is a labeled diagram of a Mountaintop mining site.

National Mining Association
The NMA's Web site provides the latest news and information on the mining industry, its technology, relevant statistics, and key legislative and regulatory policies.

OVEC - Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
OVEC is an environmental group focusing on Mountaintop removal / valley fill strip mining, coal waste impoundments, energy policy, coal-fired power plant pollution, and a host of other coal-related issues in the Ohio Valley area. The site contains news archives, photos, and background information about mining and the environment.

OVEC - Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
OVEC is an environmental group focusing on Mountaintop removal / valley fill strip mining, coal waste impoundments, energy policy, coal-fired power plant pollution, and a host of other coal-related issues in the Ohio Valley area. The site contains news archives, photos, and background information about mining and the environment.

South Wings
"A non-profit, conservation minded aviation," South Wings documents ecological damage from the sky. One of the many harmful environmental practices documented by South Wings is Mountaintop mining.

This is Mining
From the U.S. Bureau of Mines, this publication details the various mining methods for extracting mineral wealth from the U.S. subsoil.

Trial Lawyers for Public Justice
Trial Lawyers for Public Justice is the Washington D.C.-based public interest law firm that filed the first case challenging the legality of mountaintop removal mining on behalf of ten coalfield residents. They argued that the dumping of the debris into the valleys below was destroying streams, in violation of federal mining laws and the Clean Water Act. Through the Freedom of Information Act they have obtained an Environmental Protection Agency multimedia presentation which was prepared for a March 5, 2002, briefing on mountaintop removal mining Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), to senior agency officials from the EPA Office of Water, Office of Federal Activities and the Office of the General Counsel. You can download the presentation from the site.

West Virginia Coal Association (WVCA)
A non-profit trade association, WVCA's Web site provides information on the coal industry and associated publications.



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