Appalachian Streams, Valley Destruction to Continue under Bush Rules

Environmental Impact Statement doesn't respond to thousands of public comments on mountaintop removal coal mining


Joan Mulhern, Earthjustice (202) 667-4500

In yet another show of indifference to the people of West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, the Bush administration today released the final version of its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on mountaintop removal coal mining. The final report endorses the destructive practice of mountaintop removal, a coal mining method that has already obliterated thousands of square miles of mountains and streams and rivers.

The following is a statement from Earthjustice Senior Legislative Counsel Joan Mulhern:

“This EIS utterly fails to respond to the tens of thousands of public comments submitted by citizens of Appalachia and around the country who asked the Bush administration to rein in the worse abuses of mountaintop removal coal mining. The EIS’s studies demonstrate that the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining has caused widespread and irreversible damage in Appalachia and that, unless new limits are imposed, by the end of this decade the region destroyed will be over 2200 square miles in size – an area larger than the state of Delaware. Yet the administration’s preferred alternative is, essentially, to do nothing about this other than making it even easier for the coal companies to continue this abominable practice.”

“This EIS is the bureaucratic equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The Bush administration is well aware of the harm being done to the people and the region of Appalachia, but nothing they propose will do anything except make the ship sink faster.”

“The residents of Appalachia deserve better. Their historic and cultural ties to their land are rapidly withering away with each explosion and as each valley is filled. While this destruction continues, the Army Corps just keeps churning out permits for more mines. They recently permitted – illegally – a huge new mine next to Blair Mountain, the site of a historic battle in the 1920’s between coal executives and miners who were seeking unionized wages and safer working conditions. This mine alone would destroy over 3 miles of streams and desecrate this historic site. Earthjustice, the Appalachian Center for the Environment and the Economy and Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, in representing the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and Coal River Mountain Watch, have challenged this permit in federal on the grounds that valley fills from this mine violate the Clean Water Act and that the Corps’ permitting action also violates the National Environmental Policy Act.”

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