CHANGE: Obama Halts Mountain Top Removal Mining

WASHINGTON INDEPENDENT: Yes, elections do matter. Putting a quick halt to an Orwellian Bush administration rule allowing mining companies to kill mountain streams, the Environmental Protection Agency this afternoon announced that it will delay hundreds of mining permits while it takes a closer look at how the operations will affect local waterways. “EPA will use the best science and follow the letter of the law in ensuring we are protecting our environment,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement. Of all the methods used to extract coal, none is so destructive to ecosystems as mountaintop mining — a process in which the tops of mountains are literally blasted away to access the coal seams beneath. A 25-year-old Interior Department regulation prohibits mining companies from dumping debris into valley streams, but in December the Bush administration eased the rule to allow such dumping if the companies can make a case that it’s unavoidable. Complicating the picture, a Virginia-based federal appeals court last month ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers has the authority to grant mining permits. With the EPA’s announcement today, the agency has indicated that the Army Corps won’t have the final say. MORE

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