Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mountaintop Removal

Mountaintop removal coal mining is essentially strip mining on a massive scale that does exactly what its name implies. The peaks of mountains are blasted away to expose the coal below, and the waste is dumped into adjoining river valleys. Filling in these rivers has major effects downstream, polluting water supplies and endangering local residents, as well as wreaking havoc on the extremely diverse Appalachian ecosystem. To date, some 500 peaks have been leveled.

While it may seem obvious, especially with coal companies completely burying streams and routinely poisoning drinking water supplies, an article in the scientific journal Science shows clear scientific evidence that mountaintop removal mining destroys streams and poisons communities. The Los Angeles Times today reported on the magazine article, picking up on the urgent conclusion by scientists to halt this mining practice immediately.

This is no surprise to anyone who's heard of mountaintop removal, but what is exciting about it is that some of the nation's leading stream and health scientists are making a strong stand in the article for stronger federal oversight of this devastating practice.

Despite scientific evidence that mountaintop removal is causing permanent damage to sensitive ecosystems, just this week the EPA announced it was going to greenlight one of the biggest mountaintop removal mining sites in West Virginia.

The article in Science sends a clear message that current efforts to regulate mountaintop removal mining are woefully inadequate. It's a message environmentalists, local activists and coal field residents have been shouting for years. But now, with the scientists clearly on board, the EPA and the Obama administration must practice what they preach and base their decisions on other pending mountaintop removal permits on science, not politics.

More information:
Mountaintop Removal FAQ
EPA & West Virginia's Spruce Mine Testimony
Music Saves Mountains

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