Mountaintop removal mining is one of the most environmentally destructive forms of mining. Entire mountaintops are blown off in order to reach thin seams of coal buried hundreds of feet below. Already, more than 1,200 miles of streams and headwaters have been permanently buried, and more than 400,000 acres of pristine Appalachian mountains have been razed. Earthjustice and the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment on behalf of Coal River Mountain Watch, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last year in federal court, challenging its decision to issue mining permits that violate the Clean Water Act.
The Aug. 23 order from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia also set a trial date for Oct. 3 to address the environmental groups' legal claims.