After months of research a debate, an application the largest mountaintop coal removal mining permit in history has been quashed by the EPA. The decision on the 2,300 acre Spruce No. 1 Mine in West Virginia concluded that the mine would have an “unacceptable adverse effect on municipal water supplies, shellfish beds and fishery areas, wildlife, or recreational areas.”
In the decision, the EPA said that the mine would bury 6.6 miles of some of the most wildlife-rich streams in West Virginia, which perform critical hydrological and biological functions and contain clean water for citizens of the state.
This sets a new precedent for the EPA’s enforcement of both the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, and we can only hope it signal’s the demise of unsustainable mountaintop removal mining.
The decision will of course be challenged by Republican leaders who are in bed with Big Coal. Last week, the Governor of West Virginia reiterated his support for the state’s lawsuit against the EPA for the tightening of regulations on mountaintop removal permits.
As it stands, the EPA decision is a victory for the environmental health of the country. Whether it triggers conservative coal proponents to start entertaining renewable alternatives remains to be seen.
(via Huff Post)
Photo: Central Appalachia Mining’s Big Branch project in Pike County, KY. (via Law and the Environment)