Mountaintop removal mine in Kentucky, photo: iLoveMountains.org via flickr.
One more item that probably would've made more headlines had there not been a gigantic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (I know I missed it until now): As Solve Climate reports, the EPA has given approval to the first mountaintop removal coal mine since it established more stringent guidelines a few months ago. The mine in question is the Pine Creek Surface Mine and was give the go ahead over two weeks ago now via EPA letter:
The letter outlines changes that Coal-Mac Inc., the applying company and a subsidiary of coal mine giant Arch Coal, "needs to make in order to fall under the principles laid out in the [EPA's] April 1 guidance on surface mining," according to a statement the EPA issued to SolveClimate. "A final decision on this project has not been made and EPA is waiting for a response from the Corps and the mining company regarding our comments."
TreeHugger has covered MTR mining so many times that I'm not going to rehash all the negatives about it, overwhelming as they are, but will point out that the consensus among ecologists is that no amount of remediation would ever be enough to offset the damage to streams (extending far away from the mine itself too), the damage to the ecosystem around the mine. Some estimates say it would take at least one thousand years before the area repairs itself.
Considering that, the fact that an agency with the words 'environmental' and 'protection' in it could ever greenlight an MTR project (ever) boggles my mind. Even with the best laid plans by the companies involved to attempt to mediate the damage, MTR is the exact opposite of protecting the environment.
More on Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining:
Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Stream Damage Could Take 1,000 Years to Fix
EPA to Regulate Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining More Stringently EPA Date Shows Streams Near Mountaintop Removal Coal Mines Toxic (Duh)