photo: Vivian Stock/Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
In a move which really deflates hopes that the EPA would reign in mountaintop removal coal mining, 42 of 48 pending project permits have been approved by the Army Corps of Engineers. That's the word coming from The Charleston Gazette (via Yale Environment 360):In its approval of these permits the EPA said,
EPA's understanding is that none of the projects would permanently impact high value streams that flow year-round. By contrast, EPA has opposed six permits because they would all result in significant adverse impacts to high value streams, involve large numbers of valley fills, and impact watersheds with extensive previous mining impacts.
Past these initial 48 permits already reviewed, the EPA has a further 150 permits to peruse, in their words, "to reduce harmful environmental impacts."
EPA Appeared (Briefly) to Have Chutzpah
A short while back, the EPA announced that it would be reviewing permits for some of these coal mining projects--a signal widely seen as indicating that the EPA would start to curtail the practice--and then announced that even more permits would be receiving further scrutiny. In the original letters to the Corps, the EPA said that stream and wetland protections of the projects in question were inadequate.
Disposing of Mining Waste in Streams Incompatible with Environmental Protection
Considering that there really is probably no good middle ground on this issue--I can't see any way you can call disposing of coal mining waste in streams, created by destroying the tops of some of the nation's oldest mountains, to be an environmentally acceptable practice, under circumstances--it appears that this EPA has had its (to put it bluntly) first major wimp-out.
More: EPA - Mid-Atlantic Mountaintop Mining
Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining
EPA Acts on Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining: Stream and Wetland Protections Inadequate
It's On! EPA Objects to Permits For Three More Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Operations
Removing Mountaintops to Get Coal is Bad, Dumping Fill in the Valleys is Even Worse