Go tell it on the mountain!
Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking unprecedented action to bring to an end the saga of the infamous Spruce Mine, jamming a stake in the heart of what would have been the largest mountaintop removal project in the history of West Virginia.
This is the first time since Congress enacted the Clean Water Act in 1972 that the EPA has used its authority to review a previously permitted project. The agency intends to revoke the mining permit due to the massive water quality impacts expected to result from a series of mega-valley fills. As the agency said in its just-released statement:
EPA is taking this action because it is concerned about the magnitude, scale, and severity of the direct, indirect, and cumulative adverse environmental and water quality impacts associated with this project . The Spruce Mine as currently configured would bury more than seven miles of streams.
Ken Ward, Jr., who has extensively covered the contentious legal battle surrounding this mine project for the Charleston Gazette, has the scoop on his Coal Tatto blog. He covers the history of this fight, analyzes the legal angles, lays out the paper trail, provides charts and graphs, and explains the significance of this victory as only he can. His post today is a must-read.
Suffice it to say I'm going to make my way to the closest bar or church and offer up a toast or prayer accordingly. Three cheers for EPA for exercising its veto authority over mining permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers -- and for the Obama administration for taking a stand with the Appalachian citizens who are fighting the good fight in the coalfields. Hip, hip, hooray!
(Photo by J. Henry Fair)