Mountaintop removal update: EPA responds to Rahall

May 15, 2009 by Ken Ward Jr.


Photo by Vivian Stockman

EPA has finally decided to respond to Congressman Rahall’s announcement about the agency clearing dozens of mountaintop removal permits for approval by the U.S.  Army Corps of Engineers.

Here’s the statement from  Adora Andy, the press secretary for EPA administrator Lisa Jackson:

“EPA continues to conduct a detailed and rigorous review of all pending Clean Water Act permits for mines in the Appalachian coalfields.  We have concluded, under the law, that six projects of an initial 48 permits EPA reviewed,  will not proceed unless adverse environmental impacts are further reduced. We will continue to follow the law and use the best science as we quickly and thoroughly evaluate over 150 pending applications to reduce harmful environmental impacts.”

“EPA decided not to provide additional comments on the remaining 42 permits after consideration of the nature and extent of project impacts. 28 of the projects have two or fewer valley fills.  Eleven have no valley fills at all.  None have more than six.  EPA’s understanding is that none of the projects would permanently impact high value streams that flow year round.  By contrast, EPA has opposed six permits because they all would result in significant adverse impacts to high value streams, involve large numbers of valley fills, and impact watersheds with extensive previous mining impacts.”

The statement also included this list of the six permits that EPA has objected to:

Alex Energy, Republic No. 1
Central Appalachian Mining, Big Branch
Jeffco Resources, North Barnesville
Kimble Clay & Limestone, Hunt
CONSOL of Ky, Peg Fork
Highland Mining, Reylas

Where I have them, I have included a link to the EPA objection letter …  if you happen to have any of the other letters, drop me an e-mail with them attached, and I’ll post them as well.

Much more on this coming next week, folks — along with some more reporting on the issue West Virginia political leaders really don’t want to talk about: Whether mountaintop removal contributes to flooding.

11 Responses to “Mountaintop removal update: EPA responds to Rahall”

  1. Brad says:

    Thanks for the continued updates and good reporting.

  2. Mike says:

    Excellent reporting and thanks for the updates.

  3. Well, there ya go. Change we can believe in!

  4. Bo Webb says:

    Is this what he really meant? Note: The commas are used so you can better hear our Presidents speech pattern.
    Now,…. we shouldn’t have to blow up the Appalachian Mountains to extract coal,.. but what the heck,… let’s do it anyway,… because if we can send a man to the moon,…. then certainly we can make coal clean. So,… let’s give the coal industry a 10 billion dollar welfare check,… from the taxpayer,… so they can use it to lobby congress,… in the name of clean coal,… so they can destroy more of America,… in the name of profit.

  5. Dianne says:

    I’m often accused of being an unrealistic optimist, and like so many others I’m kick-in-the-gut stunned, but i still wonder whether Obama really knows / understands what’s going on with these 42 permits that EPA says are OK.

  6. fred says:

    excellent reporting, but very sad news. Not the change I voted for and I hope this destruction of our state can be reviewed by a higher level in DC. WV needs to tax our precious coal. We don’t need to be among the poorest states!

  7. […] along came a Mountaintop Removal update by the EPA — more weak and disturbing excuses, about “high-value” streams versus streams […]

  8. deb says:

    Sad that the West Virginia of John Denver’s song “Take me home Country roads” is extinct. All for the all-mighty dollar. Local folks will not have potable water or clean air…but that is o.k. I guess as long as others can use electric power like it is has no environmental cost to THEM. Maybe the cost of a kilowatt should be increased to pay for the environmental damage done by mountain top removal mining?

  9. Joseph vance says:

    I’m a coal miner and the people who live above Charleston have no right to talk about coal the way they do. Coal tax pave the roads they drive on and pay the teachers that teach, and the checks they wait on every month. The north of the state is very pretty but they have very few high paying jobs. Boone Co. pay a week $850 a week. Wirt Co. $350 ya stop coal send us a check too!

  10. bo webb says:

    Mr. Vance, I live in southern WV beneath a mountaintop removal site. I am forced to breathe silica dust everyday because of the blasting that is taking place right above me. Fly rock has landed in my garden. A boulder the size of a car hood came off there and stopped just short of my garden. The sediment catch ditches are full, again. The middle of the hollow is sliding in. The beautiful creek where I used to catch fish bait; and along its sides dig ramps, mushrooms, and ging sein is buried with rock, dirt and knocked down trees. The spring that we used to love to get water from is buried. The well water is sunken and muddy. My house and my nerves rattle each day around 4 O’clock when Massey sets off yet another series of blast. My family was here long before Massey. We’ve been on this mountain since around 1830. We’ve been invaded; it’s as simple as that. I don’t begrudge you a good paying job, but I’m sorry, nothing, absolutely nothing justifies what ya’ll are doing to our mountains and communities. We are human beings, just as you. We are American citizens, just as you. You have a right to work and I will fight for your right to work, but I and my family and my community have a God given right to live in peace, and to breathe air that is not contaminated with silica dust, diesel fuel and ammonium nitrate, and to have potable water. These are basic human rights. Your job does not justify denying us those rights. I’m sorry that our state government has not encouraged a diverse economy so other types of jobs would be available. I find myself saying I’m sorry to strip miners a lot these days, but a thought occurred to me just the other day that no one involved in mountaintop removal operations has ever told me they are sorry for what they are doing to my family and my community. I hope you will think about this and think hard, because destroying our mountains is destroying everything that we and your children need. CEO’s of coal companies don’t need our water and our air because most of them live in penthouses in NY City and other place around the world. They are making a killing off you and me.

  11. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    Mr. Vance,

    I appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment on Coal Tattoo. You are certainly entitled to your opinion.

    But there’s one thing you said that just isn’t acceptable here on Coal Tattoo … that is, your belief that only certain people have a right to take part in this discussion. That goes against what this blog stands for.

    Everyone should get their say, and have a chance to be a part of the discussion — no matter where they happen to live.


Leave a Reply