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EPA Strongly Defends Its Veto of One of Largest Mountaintop Removal Mines Ever Proposed

Agency files appeal to persevere in protection of Appalachian waters, communities
May 14, 2012
Washington, D.C. — 

On Friday afternoon, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a notice that it is appealing the U.S. District Court decision that overturned the agency’s veto under the Clean Water Act of the extremely destructive Spruce No. 1 mine, one of the nation’s largest proposed mountaintop removal coal mines. The appeal will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The green valley to the right was the site of the proposed Spruce No. 1 mine.  (Vivian Stockman of OVEC. Flyover courtesy of SouthWings.)
The green valley to the right was the site of the proposed Spruce No. 1 mine. (Vivian Stockman of OVEC. Flyover courtesy of SouthWings.)

On March 23, in a case brought against the EPA by the Mingo Logan Coal Company, the operator of the proposed Spruce No. 1 Mine, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the coal company’s attack on EPA’s science-based veto decision. Earthjustice and several Appalachian client groups vowed to persist in their fight for clean water, healthy communities, and protections from the most extreme form of energy extraction in this nation. After this court decision, more than 32,000 Earthjustice activists sent messages to the EPA in support of its veto, urging it to continue exercising and defending its full authority to protect Appalachian citizens from this extremely harmful mining practice.

The following is a statement from Earthjustice, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal River Mountain Watch, and Sierra Club—all of whom are amici curiae (or “friends of the court”) in support of EPA’s veto:

“We are heartened to see the Environmental Protection Agency press forward in its commitment to enforce the 40-year-old Clean Water Act and to ensure that the full protections of that law are finally brought to Appalachia, where they’ve been ignored for too long. As EPA’s Spruce veto determination recognized, sound science shows that it is unacceptable for a coal company to destroy more than 2,000 mountain acres and fill over six miles of vital streams with mining waste pollution, and we will continue standing behind EPA’s decision to prevent the irreversible devastation to waterways and communities that the Spruce No. 1 mine would bring.

“The fundamental right of all Americans to safe and clean water was established 40 years ago with the passage of the Clean Water Act. No one in Appalachia or beyond should be forced to live with the water pollution and wholesale environmental destruction that coal companies are wreaking through mountaintop removal mining. We’re glad to see the EPA’s decision to stand up to the coal industry and continue defending the basic right of everyday Appalachian families to clean water.”


Contact:
Liz Judge, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500 ext. 237, cell (970) 710-9002
Joe Lovett, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, (304) 645-9006
Cindy Rank, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, (304) 924-5802
Debbie Jarrell, Coal River Mountain Watch, (304) 854-2182
Janet Keating, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, (304) 522-0246
Sean Sarah, Sierra Club, (330) 338-3740