Obama Presidency

Obama Suspends New Coal Mining Permits

| by Sierra Club

The Obama Administration just made a major announcement
– they have directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to not issue any
new mining permits until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has
a chance to take a hard look at well over 100 pending permits to bury
streams with mining waste, an essential part of the mountaintop removal
coal mining process.

Beginning with EPA’s recommendation today to
deny a permit to bury a stream in West Virginia, this review, using the
best available science, will likely halt the flood of permits that was
unleashed by the 4th Circuit court decision last month.

federal court of appeals decision left it up to the Army Corps of
Engineers – and several companies had already utilized their permits to
start blasting away. These dozens of permits would have obliterated
huge swaths of Appalachia—all to continue our dependence on outdated
and dirty energy.

Today’s announcement is huge progress after eight long years of
lawlessness in Appalachia. It signals a departure from the policies of
the Bush Administration and reflects President Obama’s commitment to
science and justice in government. In a statement announcing the
decision about the West Virginia permits, EPA Administrator Lisa
Jackson said,

“I have directed the
agency to review other mining permit requests. EPA will use the best
science and follow the letter of the law in ensuring we are protecting
our environment.”

Already close to 2,000 miles of
irreplaceable streams have been contaminated or destroyed by
mountaintop removal coal mining, and communities throughout the
Appalachian region suffer daily from contaminated drinking water,
increased flooding, and a decimated landscape.

But today’s
decisive and timely action by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
sets the stage to protect Appalachian communities and end destructive
mining. This sends a clear signal that it is time to move beyond coal
and toward clean energy solutions that will create good, green jobs
here in Appalachia and across America.

This decision also comes
on the heels of two recent major pushes to end mountaintop removal coal
mining. First, we teamed up with Ashley Judd and Kentuckians For The Commonwealth to bring attention to the travesty of this type of mining.

last week more than 150 clean energy activists from Appalachia and
around the U.S. came to Washington, DC, to meet with their
Congressional representatives and various agency officials to call for
an end to mountaintop removal coal mining and the passage of the Clean
Water Protection Act.

We applaud EPA Administrator Jackson’s and
President Obama’s continued commitment to science and environmental
justice. We thank the community activists who have fought long and hard
to protect our mountains and to ensure a sustainable future for
Appalachia. Today’s announcement underscores that grassroots organizing
and fighting for justice can and will prevail when we all work together.