The mountains of West Virginia are being blown up by the coal industry -- and the state has utterly failed to take action to protect human health and endangered species from mining devastation.
The federal government currently delegates oversight of mining to the state, but the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has cowered to mining industry pressure and permitted irreparable harm to the state's mountains and streams.
The Center for Biological Diversity and other groups, as a part of a new initiative called the Citizen Action for Real Enforcement Campaign, filed a formal petition asking the feds to take mining oversight away from the state. But now we need your help.
Please take action today: Urge Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Director Joe Pizarchik to withdraw approval of West Virginia's mining program and protect endangered species and public health in Appalachia.
I am writing to urge the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement to take over administration of surface mining regulations in West Virginia because the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has failed to protect the state's environment from irreparable harm. In light of the damage to public health, endangered wildlife and water quality due to coal mining, mining oversight in the state should be put under federal watch.
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Mountaintop removal mining has become commonplace and West Virginia has failed to uphold the law. The state has enabled coal operators to use destructive mining practices that devastate significant areas of diverse, mountainous and productive landscape. A huge portion of southern West Virginia has been permanently scarred by inadequate mining regulation. Tens of thousands of additional acres are currently under permit, or slated for permits, that would cause widespread and significant harm to endangered species as well as human communities.
In June a coalition of 18 environmental, civic and religious organizations from across the country submitted a de-delegation petition under Part 733 of the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act. The petition urges the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement to withdraw approval of West Virginia's regulatory program for coal-mining after decades of inability to meet the minimum standards of the federal law. The petition contains evidence of chronic failures at every level -- failure to protect endangered species, lax permitting and enforcement, chronic understaffing, failure to protect water-quality and increased risk of catastrophic flooding.
I urge you to investigate the many deficiencies in West Virginia's state program and take quick action to protect the health and safety of human communities and the environment in Appalachia.