As we hold the mining communities affected by the recent mining tragedy in Montcoal, WV in our thoughts and prayers, let us note the following actions that hold hope for bringing change to communities that are affected by mountaintop removal coal mining.
On March 12 a coalition of 28 Christian groups sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling it to immediately end the destructive practice of mountaintop removal coal mining. The faith-based groups, which spread across many denominations, asked the EPA to close a loop hole in the Clean Water Act that allows mining waste to be dumped into streams. This practice has buried over 2,000 miles of stream to date, and over 470 mountains in Appalachia have been destroyed by mountaintop removal mining. Read the National Council of Churches press release about the letter.
From the EPA:
On April 1, the EPA announced new actions that will clarify and strengthen permitting standards for mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. Water quality near mountaintop removal sites will be held to higher standards, which is a step in the right direction. Read more details in the EPA press release. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson noted, "The people of Appalachia shouldn't have to choose between a clean, healthy environment in which to raise their families and the jobs they need to support them. That’s why EPA is providing even greater clarity on the direction the agency is taking to confront pollution from mountain top removal.”
As we greet this good news from the EPA, there is still more work to be done. Take this opportunity to send your Congressperson an email asking him or her to co-sponsor the Clean Water Protection Act, which would further restrict mountaintop removal mining.