Perhaps not content with EPA's mixed message on mountaintop removal, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) today teamed up to introduce legislation that would end the dumping of mining waste into streams.
Senator Cardin, Chairman of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee of the Committee on Environment and Public Works stated:
"My goal is to put a stop to one of the most destructive mining practices that has already destroyed some of America's most beautiful and ecologically significant regions. This legislation will put a stop to the smothering of our nation's streams and water systems and will restore the Clean Water Act to its original intent."
Senator Alexander, a member of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee of the Committee on Environment and Public Works which has jurisdiction over this issue, added:
"Coal is an essential part of our energy future, but it is not necessary to destroy our mountaintops in order to have enough coal. Millions of tourists spend tens of millions of dollars in Tennessee every year to enjoy the natural beauty of our mountains -- a beauty that, for me, and I believe for most Tennesseans, makes us proud to live here."
Although the bi-partisan bill would not apply to other methods of coal mining, the Appalachian Restoration Act would effectively ban mountaintop removal. Like the bi-partisan Clean Water Protection Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, the bill would reverse the "fill" rule by the Bush administration that has allowed mining waste and debris to be dumped into valley streams.
Mountaintop mining produces less than five percent of the coal mined in the United States.
From the Smokies to the Blue Ridge, from the Cumberland Plateau to the Appalachian range, let's hear it for Sens. Alexander and Cardin!