Court Ruling Could Open Floodgates for More Mountaintop Mining

Earlier this month -- on Friday the 13th -- a federal appeals court in Richmond, VA dealt a devastating blow to the environment by overturning a 2007 lower court decision curtailing mountaintop removal, the world's most destructive coal mining technique.  I blogged this bad news.

Clearly, the coal industry has reason to cheer their court victory.  The implications for Appalachia could be devastating.  In fact, an analysis by the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment reveals that mining permits pending at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could result in the burial of more than 218 miles of streams in Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky.  The damage would be done by more than 100 permits, covering more than 63,000 acres -- nearly 100 square miles -- and including 441 valley fills.  Just what Appalachia needs, more mountains converted to moonscapes like the mining operation below.

This legal setback doesn't have to be the end of the story.  Congress has the power to put a stop to mountaintop removal by passing legislation -- the Clean Water Protection Act -- that would prevent companies from continuing to dump mining waste into valley streams.  Soon this bill will be introduced in the new Congress and nearly 100 members of the House of Representatives are ready to co-sponsor it. 

You can help.  First, click here to find out if your representative is one of the co-sponsors.  If your representative isn't on the list, please take a moment to send an email urging them stand against mountaintop removal coal mining by supporting the Clean Water Protection Act.

Another sure-fire way to curtail mountaintop mining is to persuade the Obama administration to reverse the Bush EPA's regulatory change last year that makes it even easier for coal companies to bury valley streams under tons of rock, rubble and other mining debris.  NRDC and our allies hope to sit down soon with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to discuss how her agency can address this problem. 

Although the courts remain a problem, mountaintop removal is a loser in the court of public opinion.  With your help, we can finally bring an end to this travesty.