Sunday, January 17, 2010

Science: Stop Mountaintop Mining Permits

Science article cites extensive evidence of permanent environmental damage and risks to human health

A group of the nation's leading environmental scientists are calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a moratorium on all new mountaintop mining permits. In a Policy Forum article published in the journal Science (January 8, 2010), they argue that peer-reviewed research unequivocally documents irreversible environmental impacts from mountaintop mining which also exposes local residents to a higher risk of serious health problems.

In mountaintop mining, upper elevation forests are cleared and stripped of topsoil, and explosives are used to break up rocks in order to access coal buried below. Much of this rock is pushed into adjacent valleys where it buries and obliterates streams. Mountaintop mining with valley fills (MTM/VF) is widespread throughout eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, and southwestern Virginia.

The practice destroys extensive tracts of deciduous forests and buries small streams that play essential roles in the overall health of entire watersheds. Waterborne contaminants enter streams that remain below valley fills and can be transported great distances into larger bodies of water.

At the conclusion of the article in Science, the authors argue that regulators [EPA] should no longer ignore rigorous science:
Mining permits are being issued despite the preponderance of scientific evidence that impacts are pervasive and irreversible and that mitigation cannot compensate for losses. Considering environmental impacts of MTM/VF, in combination with evidence that the health of people living in surface-mining regions of the central Appalachians may be compromised by mining activities, we conclude that MTM/VF permits should not be granted unless new methods can be subjected to rigorous peer-review and shown to remedy these problems.
A press release about the Science article is here.

The Sierra Club made a Video of Kentucky native Ashley Judd speaking out against mountaintop removal. Watch The Sierra Club video below:


See also the post below for additional information on Mountaintop Removal Mining.

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