Bush Admin Loves Coal Mining, Hates Mountains

The moonscape below is a former fully-functioning ecosystem -- now devoid of forests, wildlife, wetlands and waterways that are characteristic of a mountain.  

This is so-called mountaintop removal coal mining -- the most destructive strip mining practice on earth -- which is ravaging Appalachia.  To date, coal companies have leveled nearly 500 mountaintops throughout the region.  They have the Bush administration to thank for that.

Here is an excellent New York Times editorial, and a Washington Post story about the issue.

This environmental tragedy is a national travesty, although most people outside West Virginia don't even know that mountaintop mining is happening.  This has to change, especially since the Interior Department last week proposed relaxing rules to permit the dumping of mining waste in the valleys, burying the rivers and streams below. 

The sad fact is that mining companies routinely do this without fear of enforcement from state and federal environmental agencies.  But now the Bush administration wants to legalize this appalling activity as a parting gift to its Big Coal benefactors.

The proposed rule would rewrite a regulation enacted 25 years ago that bars mining companies from dumping tons of rock, debris and other waste within 100 feet of any intermittent or perennial stream if the disposal affects water quality or quantity.  Despite the 100-foot buffer requirement, over a thousand miles of streams have already been polluted or buried due to lax enforcement over the past eight years. 

Obviously, the Bush administration wants to codify this illegal activity before a new administration takes office.  The public has 30 days to comment before the rule is finalized. 

NRDC is committed to fighting mountaintop removal.  You can help by submitting your comments.