EPA Issues Proposal to Veto West Virginia's Largest Mountaintop Removal Mine

Agency finds stream destruction would cause unacceptable harm


Liz Judge, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 237

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it is taking the next steps to veto an Army Corps of Engineers permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine in West Virginia, the largest mountaintop removal mine ever authorized in Appalachia. The EPA’s action comes on the basis of scientific studies that have determined that, if developed, the mine would have severe health impacts on the people, waters, and ecosystems of the surrounding area.

The following statement is from Earthjustice senior legislative counsel Joan Mulhern:

“We are encouraged to see the EPA take this critical step in the Clean Water Act’s veto process, taking the health of Appalachian communities and their environment seriously. This is the job Congress gave EPA when it passed the Clean Water Act almost 40 years ago. The law requires EPA to protect public health and guarantee safe streams, rivers, and drinking water in America, so we expect to see the EPA follow through on this proposal to veto this destructive mine, which would severely harm the local environment and surrounding communities.

“Scientific consensus tells us that mountaintop removal mining destroys streams, rivers, and drinking-water supplies. In Appalachia especially, it is ravaging ecosystems, wreaking havoc on wildlife, sickening people, and devastating whole communities.

“We hope the EPA begins to reverse policies put in place by the Bush administration that allow waste dumping from mountaintop removal mining to permanently destroy this nation’s waterways. Mountaintop removal mining must be recognized as what it is: a reckless and barbaric form of mining that rips apart mountains, buries streams and waterways with hazardous waste, contaminates drinking-water supplies, and poisons people and wildlife.”

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