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EPA Clarifies: We Are Not Halting Mountaintop Mining « The Washington Independent

OK, so maybe elections don’t matter so much.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which yesterday proclaimed the likelihood that several mountaintop mining projects in Kentucky and West Virginia would ruin local streams in defiance of the Clean Water Act, clarified last night that its plans to scrutinize those operations should not be confused with plans to halt them.

The Environmental Protection Agency is not halting, holding or placing a moratorium on any of the mining permit applications. Plain and simple. EPA has issued comments on two pending permit applications to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expressing serious concerns about the need to reduce the potential harmful impacts on water quality.

EPA also clarified that it “will take a close look at other permits” that have been the subject of lawsuits brought by environmental groups. But those environmentalists might not want to hold their breath for the Obama administration to side with them over the fate of mountain streams.

We fully anticipate that the bulk of these pending permit applications will not raise environmental concerns. In cases where a permit does raise environmental concerns, we will work expeditiously with the Army Corps of Engineers to determine how these concerns can be addressed.

The EPA’s first statement announced that the Kentucky and West Virginia mines “would likely cause water quality problems in streams below the mines, would cause significant degradation to streams buried by mining activities, and that proposed steps to offset these impacts are inadequate.”

Which begs the question: Why, then, is the White House not taking steps to halt them?

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