The EPA made a historic decision today to prevent the most massive mountaintop-removal mine ever proposed for Appalachia from going forward.
The Army Corps of Engineers had already approved the permit, but for the first time, the EPA exercised its mining-permit veto power. The EPA revoked the permit because the mine would cause unacceptable damage to rivers, wildlife and communities in West Virginia.
Entire tops of mountains are blasted off to access coal deposits, after which toxic mining waste is dumped into surrounding waterways. The Spruce mine would have destroyed 2,300 acres of forest and buried nearly seven miles of streams depended on by countless wildlife species — not to mention local human communities. Residents have been fighting the Spruce mine in West Virginia since 1998.
Mountaintop-removal coal mining has destroyed over 500 mountains, a million acres of forest and 2,000 miles of streams in Appalachia.
Pollution from mountaintop-removal mining has been found to cause deformities and reproductive failure in downstream wildlife and has been associated with cancer clusters in nearby communities.
The EPA reviewed over 50,000 public comments on the proposed mine.
The Bush administration issued a permit for the mine in 2007. The Obama administration moved last year to rescind the permit, prompting lawsuits by West Virginia and the coal company.
Fresh lawsuits are bound to result from the EPA’s action from West Virginia politicians, the coal industry and other businesses that view the action as economically damaging regulatory overreach. Arch Coal plans to challenge the federal action in court.