Obama Administration to Act Soon on Mountaintop Removal?

"We're tearing up the Appalachian Mountains because of our dependence on fossil fuel."   -- Barack Obama

At a campaign stop in Kentucky last fall, then-candidate Barack Obama denounced mountaintop removal coal mining.  It remains to be seen whether President Obama will follow through by ending the most destructive strip mining on earth.

But maybe there is reason to hope that change will come soon.  On his excellent Coal Tattoo blog, Ken Ward, Jr. suggests that a decision is expected shortly, based on testimony by one of Obama's environmental officials.  Ken writes:

President Barack Obama's top aides will be making a decision "very soon" about what they will do about mountaintop removal, according to congressional testimony today from Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Sutley told lawmakers her staff have been meeting with EPA, the Corps of Engineers, the Department of Justice and the Office of Surface Mining, discussing the issue, reviewing the February decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and examining a flood of pending permits at the corps office in Huntington.

"We're trying to get a handle on what's out there and what we may be able to do about it," Sutley told the  House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies.

As I've noted, in the wake of last month's devastating federal court ruling in Richmond, the floodgates are opening on a large number of mountaintop mining permits that had been halted by the lower courts.  All the more reason for the Obama administration to quickly step in and stop the insanity of massive mining that already has leveled nearly 500 Appalachian peaks. 

Meantime, you can help by urging your members of Congress to support legislation that would help end mountaintop removal.  It only takes a moment to help save mountains, so click here.

(Photo by Vivian Stockman, Ohio Valley Environmental Council)