Citing “irreversible damage,” EPA nears veto of mountaintop removal permit.

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed its first Clean Water Act veto ever for a previously permitted mountaintop removal project, “the largest mountaintop-removal permit in West Virginia history.”  Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has the story in this repost.

The veto would reverse a permit granted in 2007 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Arch Coal to dig a 2,278-acre coal stripmine and fill six valleys and 43,000 linear feet of streams with the toxic debris. Based on the “unequivocal” evidence that the damage from mountaintop mining is irreversible, the EPA is finally enforcing the Clean Water Act to protect West Virginia’s residents:

Coal, and coal mining, is part of our nation’s energy future, and for that reason EPA has made repeated efforts to foster dialogue and find a responsible path forward. But we must prevent the significant and irreversible damage that comes from mining pollution “” and the damage from this project would be irreversible. This recommendation is consistent with our broader Clean Water Act efforts in Central Appalachia. EPA has a duty under the law to protect water quality and safeguard the people who rely on these waters for drinking, fishing and swimming.

The EPA began the process to halt this permit more than a year ago. Although this veto will be finalized after a sixty-day comment period, many other projects continue. Coalfield residents are putting their lives on the line to stop mountaintop removal projects in Appalachia, which Barack Obama called an “environmental disaster.”

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9 Responses to Citing “irreversible damage,” EPA nears veto of mountaintop removal permit.

  1. PeterW says:

    Well it’s about @#$@#$# time, maybe now they can start enforcing the law for the existing mountain top removal sites.

  2. Kelly says:

    I agree. It is really time to start enforcing the law for the existing mountain top removal sites. Our environment needs to be preserve and protected as much as possible.

  3. catman306 says:


    On a related note:

    OSHA is starting to perform it’s mandate. A bowling center was using crime-scene detox spray as rental shoe spray. After being made aware of this health hazzard, OSHA made a surprise visit the very next morning and ordered the business to stop using this powerful pesticide. The excitement is about the speed of the their action.
    Imagine, a government regulatory agency performing its duties in real time! But it’s too late for all those mountains in WV. Yes, “it’s about @#$@#$# time”.

  4. BillD says:

    It’s not just the removal of the mountain tops–it’s the filling in of the valleys and streams with the ruble. I can’t believe that it has taken this long to stop the destruction.

  5. Richard Whiteford says:

    It has also destroyed towns, people’s lives, wildlife habitat, and water quality. Not only that, humans are pumping 90 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every 24 hours. In the last 100 years CO2 levels have risen from 280 parts per million to 387 PPM. That’s 105 parts per million higher than any time since human’s have existed and CO2 levels keep rising by around 2 1/2 PPM per year. This is a measured fact.

  6. Will Greene says:

    Agreed, about fricken time.

  7. Wit's End says:

    Yay! More please.

  8. johna says:

    Country Roads parody video

    Almost level, West Virginia
    Flattened mountains
    Coal filth in our rivers
    Life is cheap there, cheaper by the ton
    We lose more by law here, than if they used a gun

    Strip mine roads, ruin my home
    All the places, I belong
    West Virginia, stripped of mama,
    Where’s my home? My country road?

    [JR: Nice. I’ll repost.]

  9. adrian says:

    Some actual good news! Now about those other projects…