With about fifteen months left in office, the Obama administration is facing big decisions in what is likely to be one of its last major initiatives on coal mining, clean water and climate—the Stream Protection Rule. The rule is an overhaul and update of the environmental standards for coal mining, including mountaintop removal mining, an extremely destructive practice that is flattening Appalachia. Global coal prices are low, so the pace is somewhat slower than usual, but the destruction continues.
When you think about sources of toxic air pollution, one of the first things you might picture is a large power plant with huge smoke stacks belching black clouds into the sky. But the truth is that smaller power plants collectively contribute more to the cancer risk faced by Americans every day.
Earthjustice and its partners—Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Sierra Club, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, and the Appalachian Citizens Law Center—just won a small victory with potentially big implications.
Associate Attorney Neil Gormley took a trip to West Virginia to visit partners and clients and to see the effects of mountaintop removal mining first-hand. As he explains, his visit prompted questions about the relationship between this destructive practice and regional poverty.