Stop Mountaintop Removal Mining!

  • by: Earthjustice
  • recipient: Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley
Big Coal is blowing up mountains, burying streams, and contaminating waters--forever altering our nation's landscape and contaminating drinking water. Coal companies and their lobbyists are pushing more than 100 new mountaintop removal mining permits, seeking permission to blow more mountains up and destroy more mountain streams in even more communities.

The health impacts of this radically destructive form of mining are staggering. Scientific research shows that people living near mountaintop removal mines face greater threats to their lives. Cancer rates are two times higher in areas of mountaintop removal mining; babies born near mountaintop removal mining are 26% more likely to be born with birth defects. The stakes could not be higher.

Please tell the Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency to stop these permits, to stand up for justice for local families, and to resist political pressure from coal company lobbyists.
Dear EPA Administrator Jackson, Army Corps Assistant Secretary Darcy, and CEQ Chair Sutley,

I'm writing to ask for your continued commitment in keeping up the fight for what is right regarding the Spruce Mine as well as other mountaintop removal operations that destroy waters and threaten communities.

[Your comments will be inserted here.]

The EPA showed a strong commitment to the law, science, and the health of waters and communities who depend on a safe environment by vetoing the permit for one of the largest mountaintop removal mines ever proposed, the Spruce No. 1 Mine in West Virginia.
I believe that this permit should have never been issued under the Clean Water Act in the first place by the Army Corps of Engineers, and I support the EPA's decision to veto the Spruce mine's permit.

I urge the Obama administration to instruct all of its agencies to enforce and follow the Clean Water Act and take the health and waters of Appalachian communities seriously. The White House must stand by the EPA's continuing enforcement of the Clean Water Act in Appalachia, and it must also instruct the Army Corps of Engineers to revoke the unlawful permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine.

I also urge the EPA to continue doing its job, as commanded by Congress 40 years ago, to bring all American waterways under the law's full protection. I am counting on EPA to do everything within its power to prevent the Spruce No. 1 Mine from destroying more of our life-giving streams. And I expect to see the EPA prohibit other destructive mountaintop removal mines, which severely harm Appalachian waterways and communities.

And finally, I write to urge the Army Corps of Engineers to revoke the permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine, which I believe is unlawful due to the scientifically-demonstrated unacceptable adverse effect it will have on vital headwater streams and downstream waterways. I also urge the Corps to cease permitting of mountaintop removal coal mines. It's time for the Corps to fulfill its legal duty under the Clean Water Act, too.

The Obama administration's unified leadership and action on this issue are imperative. Today, coal companies are pushing for more than 100 new mountaintop removal mining permits, seeking permission to blow more mountains up and destroy more mountain streams in even more communities. When so many local communities are facing this devastation, we need all federal agencies to follow EPA's lead and hold firm to the foundational laws and people of this land by preventing more irresponsible mining operations like the proposed Buffalo Mountain Mine in West Virginia, the Ison Rock Ridge Mine in Virginia, and the Stacy's Branch Mine proposed in Kentucky, and others like them.

Furthermore, I strongly urge you to recognize that the only way to meet the safeguards of the Clean Water Act and protect communities is to stop valley fills and mountaintop removal all together. Efforts that just try to manage the problem around the edges by allowing a few valley fills at a time (called "sequencing") or through mitigation that has proven to be unsuccessful are contrary to the law, science and common sense.

Please take these actions to follow the law and protect the people and waters of Appalachia--all of us are depending on you.
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