For Immediate Release, July 14, 2009
Contact: Tierra Curry, (503) 989-2148
Center for Biological Diversity Statement on the Army Corps of Engineer's Proposal to
Suspend Nationwide Permits for Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining in Appalachia
PORTLAND, Oreg.— The Center for Biological Diversity supports the Obama administration’s proposal to end the use of nationwide permits to allow mountaintop removal coal mining, but is disappointed by the administration’s lack of leadership in enforcing existing law to prevent this destructive practice.
“Ending the use of streamlined permits is another baby step in the right direction, but for the mountain that gets blown up, and the community whose drinking water gets destroyed, it doesn’t make a difference what type of permit was issued or how closely it was scrutinized,” said Tierra Curry, biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity.
The proposal by the Army Corps of Engineers to suspend the use of nationwide Clean Water Act permits for surface coal mining in Appalachia will require that permits be issued on an individual basis. Earlier this spring the administration announced it would scrutinize individual mining permits in order to protect the environment, but then approved 42 of 48 new mountaintop removal permits.
Because roughly one-third of mountaintop removal projects are permitted under nationwide permits, this proposal doesn’t affect the majority of permits and doesn’t even suspend the issuance of nationwide permits until a final decision is issued.
“This decision is the administration putting yet another Band-Aid on the gaping wound that is mountaintop removal coal mining, without actually doing anything to prevent the injury,” said Curry.
Since mountaintop removal began in 1970, more than 1,200 miles of streams have been buried, 1.5 million acres of hardwood forest have been lost, and more than 470 mountaintops have been permanently destroyed.
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