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Mountaintop Removal Goes to Washington

The saga of mountaintop removal continues, and this time it's headed to Congress. Two proposed bills—one in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives—could curtail mountaintop removal mining by banning certain activities related to this destructive mining practice.

The Appalachia Restoration Act, a bill in the U.S. Senate, would prohibit dumping "excess spoil" resulting from mountaintop removal into streams and headwaters. A similar bill in the House of Representatives—the Clean Water Protection Act—would put even tighter restrictions on dumping this pollution into Appalachian streams.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced the Appalachia Restoration Act earlier this year, and according to a statement from Cardin, are planning to hold a hearing on mountaintop removal next week. This is the first Congressional hearing on mountaintop removal since 2002. Earthjustice senior counsel Joan Mulhern testified at that hearing, along with former Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson (BTW, if the last time Congress held a hearing on something a Backstreet Boy testified, you know it's been a long time!)

Unfortunately, while Congress is moving to act, mountaintops are still being blown up all over Appalachia. In a bit of disheartening news, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers announced plans last week that would, "[secure] access to clean streams and safe drinking water, and [honor] our clean water laws."

But, as we expressed in a statement about this news, "Until the White House announces that it will stop the blowing up of mountains and burying of streams, we cannot support their policies, regardless of what process is used to review the mines on a case by case basis."

Tags:  coal, water

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