Ricky Handshoe lives in Floyd County, KY, where his family has lived for generations. Raccoon Creek near his house used to have more fish than anywhere else for a stream its size. Now five years later, the EPA says everything is dead.
Ricky's home is surrounded on three sides by mountaintop removal operations. Heavy metals and other pollutants have made the conductivity of the water over 11 times what the EPA says is safe for aquatic life. The water 15 feet from his daughter's bedroom window is an environmental and safety hazard.
After years of scientific study, the EPA issued a guidance on acceptable levels of conductivity in stream water. Unfortunately, last week a court sided with the coal industry and threw out the EPA's mountaintop removal guidance saying it wasn't an official rule.
Urge the EPA to appeal the court's decision, and tell them to make the conductivity guidance an official rule so that we can protect our water.
Subject: Protect Appalachia's Water from Mountaintop Removal Mining
EPA Administrator Jackson,
I appreciate the leading role that the Environmental Protection Agency has played to limit mountaintop removal surface mining in Appalachia, one of the most environmentally destructive activities taking place in the entire nation. Your agency has adopted policies based on the latest scientific evidence and acted to protect impoverished and disadvantaged communities affected by mountaintop removal. Unfortunately, court decisions have overturned many of the EPA's initiatives, including the veto of the Spruce mine permit and, most recently, new policies to ensure protection of water pollution from mining.
I hope that the EPA will appeal the court decision blocking its water pollution policies, as it did the Spruce mine decision. At the same time, I urge the EPA to take steps to make these policies more legally defensible and durable by beginning a formal rule-making process to establish water quality standards to protect streams from mountaintop removal. Strong water quality standards are the EPA's best tool to stop the devastating effects of mountaintop removal. Thank you for your leadership at the EPA and your commitment to protect Appalachia.
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