- Category: Politics
01 Aug 2012
- Published on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 10:31
- Hits (720)
The Environmental Protection Agency came out in the losing end of a lawsuit filed against it by a coal mining industry coalition regarding their setting up of water-quality criteria for coal mining operations in Appalachia.
In doing so, the E.P.A. “infringed on the authority” given to state regulators by federal clean water and surface mining acts, found U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton.
The decision is the latest setback to the current administration’s attempts to crack down mountaintop removal coal mining, according to a report from the Associated Press.
In April last year, the E.P.A. had issued revised standards guidelines on the practice of dumping waste from surface mine blasting into Appalachian valley waterways.
The E.P.A. and other critics of the practice say it is harmful to the environment but the mining industry sees it as an efficient way to produce cheap power and employ thousands in well-paying jobs, the report added.
The guidelines basically said that no discharge of dredged or fill material may be permitted if: the nation's waters would be “significantly degraded,”; it causes or contributes to violations of a state's water quality standard; or that there is a practicable alternative that is less damaging to the aquatic environment.
The decision by Mr. Walton has its supporters and its detractors.
The National Mining Association, which was involved in the suit, said the guidelines would “destroy” jobs and that Mr. Walton’s decision would help get miners back to work "by allowing the state permitting agencies to do their jobs."
Meanwhile, Cindy Rank, chair of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy's Mining Committee, told AP that the decision "continues to put us living in Appalachia in the unconscionable position of having to document our own communities' sickness, disease and other unexplained health impacts as reasons to finally stop the devastating practice of mountaintop removal coal mining."
Mr. Walton though is aware of the dilemma, and says that the court does appreciate the interests of both parties in the litigation.
"How to best strike a balance between, on the one hand, the need to preserve the verdant landscapes and natural resources of Appalachia and, on the other hand, the economic role that coal mining plays in the region is not, however, a question for the Court to decide," he told AP. – EcoSeed Staff