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Biggest Mountaintop Removal Mine Vetoed - A Win for Appalachia

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13 January 2011, 12:07 PM
Coal mine finally stopped as EPA rejects Spruce No. 1 Mine
Site of the proposed Spruce mine (green valley to right). Photo by Vivian Stockman of OVEC, Flyover courtesy SouthWings.

Today, after a generation of blasting its way virtually unhindered across Appalachia, the coal industry has been defused. The EPA announced its veto of what would have been the largest mountaintop removal operation in West Virginia -- Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 Mine.

The EPA's unprecedented action spares the land, protects those in the area of the proposed mine, and must be seen as a huge victory for communities across Appalachia. They have hope at last that this most destructive form of coal mining is finally being reined in. It is a huge victory for them and for all Americans joined in the struggle to protect our air and water from industrial pollution.

The impacts of this decision are profound:

The law of the land stands strong today. The Obama administration and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson are finally wielding the authority granted by the Clean Water Act. By vetoing the permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers, they have saved nearly seven miles of vital streams and more than 2,000 mountain acres in an important part of Appalachia, Logan County, West Virginia.

Justice comes to Appalachia. Today's decision means that people in Appalachia are finally receiving protections of the law. This is a part of the country where profits are continually prioritized over public health, where streams are buried and water supplies are poisoned and mountains and ecosystems are laid to waste, and where the people rank among the poorest despite the coal companies' wealth and power. The EPA is finally acknowledging the environmental injustice and doing something about it.

Our voices make a difference. If ever you thought that your one little voice, your one little action, your one little e-mail or letter or phone call to the federal government didn't make a bit of difference, take heart today. More than 50,000 people wrote the EPA about this permit, and the EPA wrote that these public outcries were taken into account. Earthjustice supporters alone sent nearly 38,000 letters and comments to EPA! Let's remember today's victory next time we have doubts about whether our voices can be heard.

The public prevails over corporate special interests and their friends in Congress. This decision rebuffs extreme scare tactics by those seeking to take away or block public health protections. It is a disappointment to see those in Congress who are supposed to represent our future, health and well-being instead represent corporate special interests. Today's decision should send the message to those members of Congress that need to start caring more about the health of people and the survival of our precious waters and mountains than the profit margin of any one mining company. We know we're going to have to continue confronting this betrayal over and over again in Congress. With today's victory, we know we can win.

Read what Earthjustice and our partners in the coalfields had to say about today's victory over Arch Coal's Spruce mine (full press release here):

Yeah, according to Lee, people have lost jobs, that they didn't even have yet, or before. Yet if Lee had bothered to read the article, the people in these areas are amoung the poorest of the country, despite the Coal Industries power in being able to do whatever they have wanted, and all the "jobs" they have been providing. Hey Lee, I have a somewhat solution for you. Why don't you move you and your family, to live near one of these places? You know, with all the poisonous air, water, and land all nearby you, along with the total destuction of it. I'm sure the Coal Industry owners, will be real concerned, about you and your family's health and welfare.

Mr. Cannon has obviously not lived in Appalachia or read about the toxins (and dam bursts) that have damaged people's lives and property in the region. It's a bit brainless to say "why don't you move your and your family,[sic: obviously punctuation is not a skill known to Mr. Cannon] to live near one of these places?" Jobs have always been a problem in Appalachia, which is why the inhabitants have always been exploited with dirty and/or ill-paying jobs. One could just as easily and stupidly say these jobless people had plenty of opportunity when the economy was strong to move away from Appalachia, as have many before them, but evidently they feel a deep tie to the place and the way of life, as do many of us who ever lived there, however briefly. Interestingly, Mr. Cannon's sarcasm in the badly punctuated last sentence sums up the issue as though it were written by those whose views he opposes: obviously the coal industry owners don't care about anyone's health and welfare.

This is great news! I was born in Logan, West Va. and am so glad to hear that the mountains there will be spared. The Appalachian Mountains are so old and beautiful. They should not be treated with such disrespect.

I dont believe it.

It's refreshing to read such good environmental news for once! Mountaintop removal is incredibly devastating to the Earth, waterways and wildlife (and humans) living around it - I'm amazed the coal industry has been able to continue mining unabated for this long. Money talks in this country I suppose. Let's make sure to keep the EPA strong and supported so sound environmental policies like this can continue!

What a great victory.
Don`t even worry about the people that lost their jobs because of it. They`ll feed their families somehow. Maybe they can even be trained for some non-existent green job!

They could feed their families if they gardened and farmed. Donate some McDonald's seeds...and, how does anybody "lose a job", that hasn't been created yet?

Good. I'm so glad you feel that way. Of course they'll be able to "feed their families somehow" by opening their minds (just like you, right?) and allowing themselves to retrain for an EXISTENT Green Job.

Are we still subsidizing the buggy-whip manufacturers? Would you like to do that? Times change, Lee -- move with them. Smashing the Earth to bits in order to take your 9 kids to McDoo's is no longer an option. Grow up.

I was so excited to see that we might no longer treat our resources as if we were a third world country. West Virginia is so lovely; mountain-top blasting shouldn't ever even be an option.

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