Kentucky Environmental Groups Battle Bush Administration's Midnight Rulemaking


Some mountaintops removed for mining, photo courtesy of the NY Times

You've got to love all these "Midnight Rules" that keep popping up—whether it's the lifting of poultry farm regulations, or the latest egregious legislation: a repealing of the stream buffer zone rule, which has prevented surface coal mining from taking place a scant 100 feet from flowing streams since 1983. Yes, as we reported earlier, the EPA overturned this vital law, acting against the advice of some of its own scientists. The rule's elimination will likely lead to serious environmental hazards like more mountaintop removal mining.

But the environmental organizations in Kentucky—including Kentucky Waterways Alliance, the Sierra Club, and Earthjustice—won't let this midnight rule go quietly into the night.
No, the groups have instead readied themselves for battle. Their army? A fearsome fleet of lawyers. Their weapon? A well-timed (and hopefully well-publicized) legal challenge.

According to the Kentucky Waterways Alliance,

"Attorneys with Earthjustice, Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, Appalachian Citizens Law Center, Sierra Club, and Waterkeeper Alliance filed the legal challenge today in federal district court in Washington, DC on behalf of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Tennessee-based Save Our Cumberland Mountains, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, and two other West Virginia-based groups: Coal River Mountain Watch and Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition."

That's some serious eco-firepower for a case that could seriously use some—if the law stands, it will pave the way for even more mountaintop removal mining and widespread stream destruction. And remember, a majority of Americans oppose mountaintop removal mining--not just us TreeHuggers.

There may be a way out, even if the attorneys lose the case—there's some little known legislation from the Clinton era that might be the key to overturning all theses "midnight regulations."

Here's a copy of the legal complaint filed by the groups' attorneys.

More on the EPA and Midnight Rulemaking:
Bush Administration Takes Another Last Minute Poke at the Environment
Serious Potential for Accidents? No Problem, Says EPA

Tags: Conservation | EPA | Pollution