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EPA Puts Brakes on Surface Mining in Appalachia

The EPA just issued a statement announcing that they have extended the review period for 79 surface mining permit applications in Appalachia. This means that the permits will not be streamlined for approval, and is in accordance with the Obama administration’s memorandum issued in June to subject coal-mining permits to greater scrutiny.

“The administration pledged earlier this year to improve review of mining projects that risked harming water quality. Release of this preliminary list is the first step in a process to assure that the environmental concerns raised by the 79 permit applications are addressed and that permits issued are protective of water quality and affected ecosystems,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We look forward to working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers, with the involvement of the mining companies, to achieve a resolution of EPA’s concerns that avoids harmful environmental impacts and meets our energy and economic needs.”

The EPA is also planning to review a longer list of proposed projects over the next 15 days. There will be a 60-day review process for each permit.

Activists organizing against surface mining projects like mountain-top removal, a method that blasts mountains to extract coal reserves, were pleased by the development. “By recommending these permits not be approved, the EPA and the Army Corps has demonstrated their intention to fulfill a promise to provide science-based oversight which will limit the devastating environmental impacts of mountaintop removal mining,” said Willa Mays, executive director for Appalachian Voices, in a statement.

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