EPA's Lisa Jackson on Mountaintop Removal

U.S. News & World Report conducted an in-depth interview with Lisa Jackson, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  When asked point-blank about EPA's scrutiny of mountaintop removal, she gave this encouraging -- and courageous -- response:

Q. The EPA recently announced it was going to conduct more diligent reviews of permits for mountaintop coal mining operations. Some accused you of trying to halt such projects. What's happening here?

EPA has a job to do when it comes to those permits, which is to review the permits specifically with an eye towards tracking down and identifying any significant impact on water and water quality.  EPA will review permits.  It will identify those permits that have the potential to significantly impact water quality.  It will comment on those permits.  It will do that in a very open and transparent manner.  And in those cases where our comments aren't heeded, we won't hesitate to elevate or take whatever other actions are necessary.  The statute actually allows us to elevate and then, if necessary, even object to permits being issued.  It's a scientifically based, permit-by-permit job.  We were saying nothing more, and we continue to say nothing more, other than that we will do our job.  It is a very important job.

After the past eight years of lax federal oversight and environmental enforcement on mountaintop removal, we welcome the change that Lisa "Action" Jackson is bringing to EPA.