Photo credit: Jennifer Chavez
Waste from mountaintop removal mining operations is often dumped into nearby valleys, burying streams and polluting drinking water.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has suspended fast-track permitting of mountaintop removal mining operations in the Appalachian region of six states. This announcement comes more than a year after a U.S. district court decision ruled these permits illegal.
The nationwide permits, created in 1982, gave blanket authorization to mountaintop removal coal mines to dump their mining waste in streams and waterways. The district court ruled that this overly generalized permitting process could not guarantee compliance with the Clean Water Act and that mining companies must apply for individual permits to be allowed to fill streams with mining waste.
"Using nationwide permits to rubber stamp the destruction of hundreds of miles of streams across Appalachia is an abomination,” said Earthjustice senior legislative counsel Joan Mulhern. "We are relieved that the Obama administration is finally taking this general permit off the Corps’ books, but what the Corps and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency really need to do is to take immediate steps to ensure that our streams and waterways are no longer used as dumping grounds for mining waste.”