Court Throws Out Bush Adminstration Rule on Mountaintop Coal Mining

It’s amazing how quickly bad policy can be eliminated if a judge rules in your favor, and that’s exactly what happened last week regarding mountaintop coal mining. 

The Washington DC federal district court threw out President GW Bush’s rule, which repealed the 1983 requirement that coal companies must leave a 100-foot buffer between mining operations and waterways.

Repealing the long-standing rule allowed coal miners to dump the enormous amounts of debris from mountaintop mining directly into streams and rivers in Appalachia.

When the Obama Administration took over, the Department of Interior went to court to re-instate the 1983 rule, but was unsuccessful.

But because it didn’t consider the impacts on endangered species, last week the court declared the rule invalid, says the Southern Environmental Law Center, which filed the suit on behalf of the National Parks Conservation Association. And the court re-instated the 1983 law that requires buffers between mining operations and waterways.

"Now that this destructive rule is history, we are hopeful that we can begin a more meaningful and science-based examination of the devastating effects of mountaintop removal and stream destruction in the Appalachian mountains," says Don Barger, southeast regional director of National Parks Conservation Association.

Mountaintop removal mining has buried an estimated 2,400 miles of Appalachian streams and polluted many more miles of waterways.

Mountaintop Removal Mining

"Coal River Mountain Watch is pleased that the court struck down the Bush rule intended to make mountaintop removal more expedient. Unfortunately, we are still stuck with regulators who refuse to enforce the previous rule, who refuse to take citizens’ complaints seriously, and who refuse to acknowledge the growing scientific evidence that mountaintop removal harms human health. We need federal takeover of the West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection’s failed mining division, and we need to pass the Appalachian Community Health Emergency (ACHE) Act, H.R. 526," says Vernon Haltom, executive director of the organization. 

Not so fast, say coal advocates in the House of Representatives. They plan to vote on HR 2824, which would not only revive the rules, but would apply them in every state.

This and the coal ash, coal slurry and chemical spills in West Virginia and North Carolina prove the importance of strong regulations. Without them, the public is at the mercy of coal companies who certainly don’t have their interests in mind.

Since the Obama administration took over, it’s been criticized for not taking a tough enough stance against mountaintop removal coal mining, but the EPA issued water quality rules and did veto what would have been the biggest, most destructive mine ever (in West Virginia).

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Comments on “Court Throws Out Bush Adminstration Rule on Mountaintop Coal Mining”

  1. MOT

    I am amazed at the stupidity of people.
    Reasonable people call these so called “streams” ditches!
    Throwing out the “Bush Rule” is just another strike from Obama’s War on Coal.
    Does it equally apply to road construction and every other type of construction in Appalachia?
    Why not just shut down Appalachia & move everybody to Obama’s Welfare State, you can’t work here except for Walmart or fast food, but wait, they were built on mountaintop removal sites.
    What the area needs is more mountaintop removal & more valley fills to create flat land that can be utilized for industry and other development. It is stupid to rebuild the mountain so all it is good for is growing trees. Environmentalists are the biggest hypocrites. Why don’t you get real jobs and let the rest of us make an honest living. We can’t survive on minimum wage jobs at Walmart & McDonalds.

  2. Open Your Eyes

    Read a book and stop repeating things you hear on Fox news. Here’s a fact for you: the Obama administration is the ONLY one that’s seen an increase in Coal jobs since Jimmy Carter. The Bushes sold your jobs to China so stop whining and get a job installing solar panels or go tell your kids they deserve a 3rd World life expectancy rate. Your boy W is responsible for the lowest number of coal jobs in the state since 1893. War on Coal? The Bush family has had a War on Jobs since HW was VP. Get with the picture before we’re out of resources to support each other. Also, look up the word hypocrite in the dictionary. Your honest living is killing my family and yours.


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