EPA Moving Forward to Save Waters and Protect Local Community From Harm

Agency recommends veto of one of largest ever proposed mountaintop removal mines in Appalachia


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

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regional administrator recommended vetoing a permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine, one of the largest mountaintop removal mines ever proposed in Appalachia. This regional recommendation begins the final stage of the EPA’s process to veto the permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine.

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

“We applaud the EPA and Regional Administrator Garvin for taking this important step toward a final veto.  Congress gave EPA oversight of these permits for a reason: it is the agency’s job to make sure waters are protected to the full extent of the law.  This step honors that legal – and we believe moral – responsibility.  We hope Administrator Jackson will follow this recommendation and veto the unacceptable permit for the Spruce Mine.

“There is no worse crime against the environment and against the people of Appalachia, their health, and their future than mountaintop removal mining. The EPA and the Corps of Engineers must end this devastating practice and restore protection under the law to the people of Appalachia once again, beginning with fully vetoing the permit for the proposed Spruce No. 1 mine.

“All of the science that we have alerts us that this mining practice is killing life and that it is harmful to communities. The law, the 40-year-old Clean Water Act, exists to protect Americans from exactly this type of harm and to prevent the nation’s waters from being used as garbage dumps for big, powerful industries and corporations.

“For too long, mountaintop removal mining has made Appalachia into a national sacrifice zone for the polluting dirty energy industry. That this practice –  which obliterates mountains, buries streams, and harms water supplies – continues, goes against both science and the law. This national sacrifice of Appalachia must end. The Spruce No. 1 Mine permit must be fully vetoed, and the EPA must follow that with a strong policy that honors the Clean Water Act and finally ends mountaintop removal mining.”


In late March, the EPA released a proposal to veto the Spruce No. 1 mine’s permit based on scientific and legal analysis showing that the mine does not adhere to Clean Water Act standards. This summer the EPA considered public comments received on the proposal. Today’s news makes public the recommendation that the regional administrator sent internally to EPA headquarters on September 24. The decision process has now entered the final stage. EPA is scheduled to decide the fate of the waters that would be buried by this mine’s permit within a few months.

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