Appalachian Mountains Deserve a Break

posted by scott parkin

by Dana Clark, RAN’s Corporate Accountibility Director

On this anniversary of the signing of the Surface Mining Reclamation and Control Act, a flawed piece of legislation that was signed by Jimmy Carter 32 years ago, RAN has written to Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the EPA, to call on her to implement a moratorium on any new mountaintop removal coal mining permits. As we noted in our letter, the EPA’s recent announcement that it would more rigorously enforce existing laws was not enough.


The Administration’s commitment to more rigorously enforce existing laws is a welcome change in approach – clearly, the lawlessness that has characterized MTR mining activities must be reigned in and stopped. However, we also recognize that the existing laws are themselves flawed and distorted. The Bush Administration’s manipulation of the Clean Water Act, including the changed interpretation of the “fill” rule that allows the dumping of mining wastes into waterways, should not be allowed to stand or to further distort decision-making.

In support of the call for a moratorium on new permits, we noted that there has been no meaningful examination of the cumulative impacts of MTR mining operations and permits, nor has there been rigorous analysis of the claims that post-mining reclamation has worked – in fact, the opposite appears to be true. We also called for a public health assessment of the numerous impacts on local residents – including contamination of the air and well water, and the dangerous state of coal sludge dams, some of which are positioned dangerously above schools and homes. And we called for a commitment to develop the green energy economy in Appalachia:

We call for the development of a clean energy and safe jobs task force for the region, so that communities that have sacrificed to feed a national grid that is overly dependent on coal can be first in line to be trained and provided economic opportunities in the new, green energy economy. There are alternatives in Appalachia, and there are local organizations that are committed to helping forge a more sustainable path forward. They urgently need your leadership if they are to have any hope for a meaningful future.

Please help us keep the pressure on the EPA to do the right thing by signing our online petition to Lisa Jackson – we will deliver the signatures to her at a strategically appropriate time in the future.

For the mountains, Dana