PHILADELPHIA— As part of a growing movement against the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining, dozens staged a rally today at Philadelphia’s EPA Region 3 building. Those in attendance were asking the EPA to take immediate action to veto new Mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining permits, which Region 3 is largely responsible for. The participants successfully met with EPA representative, Jeffrey Lapp, and delivered a letter to Shawn Garvin, the EPA’s regional administrator.
In recent months, the EPA has wavered in their position on mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR); in particular with the recent approval of the high profile Hobet 45 Mine permit. Philadelphia’s EPA has oversight of MTR permits for Virginia and West Virginia, which includes the Hobet 45 Mine. Philadelphia’s Region 3 EPA is considering 16 upcoming MTR permits and is responsible for the enforcement of the Clean Water Protection Act at existing MTR sites, which makes it a critical agent in ending the mining practice.
"As the body responsible for mine permits in Virginia and West Virginia, the Philadelphia EPA has a leadership role to play in ensuring the end of this outdated and egregious practice of blowing up whole mountains and contaminating drinking water for a very tiny amount of coal,” said Annie Sartor of the Rainforest Action Network, which organized the rally.
An increasing number of Americans oppose the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining, including a majority of Appalachians. Called the worst of the worst strip mining, the practice blows the tops off of whole mountains to scoop out the small seams of coal that lie beneath.
“With resounding scientific consensus against the practice, hundreds of mountains destroyed and thousands of miles of streams contaminated, the EPA can and must end mountaintop removal coal mining,” said Robin Markle, who helped organize today’s rally.
A paper released by a dozen leading scientists last month in the journal Science, concluded that mountaintop coal mining is so destructive that the government should stop giving out new permits to do it. "The science is so overwhelming that the only conclusion that one can reach is that mountaintop mining needs to be stopped," said Margaret Palmer, a professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences and the study's lead author.
Mining companies are clear-cutting thousands of acres of some of the world's most biologically diverse forests, burying crucial headwaters streams and contaminating groundwater with toxic levels of heavy metals. According to the EPA, this destructive practice has damaged or destroyed nearly 2,000 miles of streams and threatens to destroy 1.4 million acres of forest by 2020.
Today’s rally was organized by Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Philly Against Coal and concerned Philadelphia residents. In conjunction with the rally in Philadelphia, RAN also organized a sit-in at the Atlanta Region 4 EPA offices.
Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org