Blog Archives

Clean Water Laws Wrestle With Coal

Erin Savage of Appalachian Voices collects a sample from Fields Creek following the 2014 slurry spill. Testing revealed high levels of contaminants including MCHM.

America’s environmental regulations have hampered the coal industry to varying degrees for decades, and though those rules can protect communities from pollution, the law alone is often not able to secure clean water. Here are some of the trouble spots.

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Another challenge facing coal: Cleaning up

Harlan Mine 4_12_13_400wFrom The Appalachian Voice Online: Yet another aspect of the financial perils facing U.S. coal companies is coming into full view. As even some of the nation’s largest coal producers run the risk of caving under their debts, regulators and analysts are voicing urgent concerns about cash-strapped companies’ ability to pay for reclamation land after mining.

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Two wrongs don’t make a right: mountaintop removal and stream protection

Palmer study image, 2014Two recent studies include more bad news regarding the impacts of mountaintop removal on streams throughout Central Appalachia. One indicates that work done to restore previously degraded streams is inadequate, while the other raises important questions about the feasibility of selenium pollution enforcement.

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Endangered Species are New Focus in Legal Case against Kentucky’s Water Quality Protections and EPA

Contact Appalachian Voices: Eric Chance, 828-262-1500, eric@appvoices.org Kentuckians For The Commonwealth: Suzanne Tallichet, 606-776-7970, stallichet1156@aol.com Center for Biological Diversity: Tierra Curry, 971-717-6402, tcurry@biologicaldiversity.org Sierra Club: Adam Beitman, (202) 675-2385, adam.beitman@gmail.com Defenders of Wildlife: Melanie Gade, (202) 772-0288, mgade@defenders.org Kentucky Waterways

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Seleni-what?

Illustration by Jack Rooney

Most people have probably never heard of selenium, but for coal operators and fish it’s a big deal. Appalachian Voices’ water quality expert takes a moment to explain the issues surrounding this mineral — necessary in small amounts but toxic to aquatic life even at very low levels — and the EPA’s controversial attempts to regulate it.

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Study Shows Steep Decline in Fish Populations Near Mountaintop Removal

Selenium has caused grotesque deformities from s-curved spines and double-headed larvae to fish with both eyes on the same side of their heads. These fish (above) were caught at Belews Lake, N.C., which is adjacent to a Duke Energy coal-fired power plant. Photo by Dr. Dennis Lemly

A study from researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey published in July provides strong new evidence that mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia is devastating downstream fish populations.

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Science vs. Mining

Over 2,000 miles of streams have been buried by Mountain Top Removal mining, and many more have been degraded. This seems like it should be illegal, but the destructive practice continues. That’s why Appalachian Voices has been working to keep the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and industry from opening up new loopholes in our environmental laws that would make it easier to poison streams.

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Take Action: Protect Appalachian Streams from Toxic Selenium

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is poised to loosen national recommended water quality standards for selenium, a toxic pollutant commonly released from mountaintop removal coal mines. You can stand up for streams in Appalachia by submitting comments urging the EPA to protect aquatic life and strengthen selenium standards.

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EPA Proposal for Toxic Coal Pollutant Won’t Protect Clean Water

Resources EPA Draft Selenium Standards Selenium in Kentucky Fact Sheet Read more about selenium on our blog Contact: Eric Chance, Water Quality Specialist, 828-262-1500, eric@appvoices.org Erin Savage, Water Quality Specialist, 828-262-1500, erin@appvoices.org Cat McCue, Communications Director, 434-293-6373, cat@appvoices.org Washington, D.C.

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Patriot Coal CEO: Ending Mountaintop Removal Mining a “Win-Win”

After emerging from bankruptcy, Patriot Coal CEO Bennett Hatfield said in an interview with SNL Energy that the 2012 settlement over selenium pollution that forced the company to begin phasing out mountaintop removal proved to be a “win-win.” Even before

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