Mountaintop Removal Mining Should Be Abolished

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On April 1, Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, announced strong new guidance on mountaintop removal permits, which, if applied rigorously, could prohibit most MTR operations and the resulting toxic dumping into streams and valleys.

However, two weeks ago Lisa Jackson’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave the Army Corps of Engineers a green light for the Pine Creek mine permit, a mountaintop removal (MTR) mining site in Logan County, W.Va. This is the first permit decision the EPA has issued under the new mountaintop mining guidelines, which came out last April and were anticipated to provide tougher oversight of mountaintop removal coal mining.

The new MTR guidelines were understood to provide greater protection for headwater streams by curbing the practice of dumping waste in neighboring valleys to create what is known as valley fills. The Pine Creek permit is the first test of these guidelines, and green lights three new valley fills (each over 40 acres large). It was anticipated that these guidelines, by requiring mining operators to control levels of toxins in nearby streams, would significantly reduce the dumping of mining waste in valleys, which the EPA said was scientifically proven to contaminate drinking water and wreck ecosystems.

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3 thoughts on “Mountaintop Removal Mining Should Be Abolished

  1. “When I die let my ashes flow down the Green River,
    let my soul roll on up to the Rochester Dam.
    I’ll be halfway to heaven with Paradise waiting
    Just five miles away from wherever I am.”

    Things haven’t changed all that much since 1971. Mr. Peabody’s coal train is still haulin’ it away.

  2. What I don’t understand is why we don’t go for remote mining, the equipment is operated from the surface. If the ROVs on the gulf spill can do it why not in a coal mine where the environment is less hostile. (Of course the money involved is to small to pay for it, lives are cheaper).

  3. @Lyle: Water absorbs pretty much all radio waves over moderately short distances; those remote control toys operate on very long cables. Now the earth typically kills any radio signals even quicker; robotic mining is not so simple. Having said that, robots are used at the coalface and there is ongoing work to develop more mining robots. Some people are claiming that mining can be performed with less shoring up of the shafts – obviously humans cannot legally work in such conditions in many countries so that’s the hype they’re using to sell their robot miner ideas. Moving a mountain is a much quicker and cheaper option though and has been used for as long as I can remember (‘open cut’ mines).

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