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New National Poll: Americans Oppose New Rule to Allow More Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

APPALACHIA – A major new national poll finds that a strong majority of Americans oppose a new Bush Administration rule change easing environmental protections and expanding mountaintop removal coal mining. The survey, by the Civil Society Institute, was released in conjunction with the launch of 700mountains.org, a new website where the public can submit comments opposing the rule change.

The change to the buffer zone rule was announced by the Bush Administration in late August, and would dramatically weaken a provision of the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act that currently prohibits mining activity within 100 feet of a stream. Coal field advocates say the change will remove one of the primary legal obstacles to the unchecked expansion of mountaintop removal.

Some key results of the poll included:

– 2 out of 3 Americans (65%) stated they opposed the efforts of the Bush Administration to weaken the buffer zone rule, which prohibits mining activity within 100 feet of a stream. When respondents learned more about the level of destruction that would be caused by this rule change, half of those who were initially supportive of the rule change changed their position.
– 9 out of 10 people (88%) agreed with this statement: “Before the United States puts in place new regulations to permit more coal mining, it should first make sure that coal mines and coal mining practices are safe for miners, nearby communities and the environment.”
– 77% of Americans feel it would be better for the Bush Administration to concentrate first on energy conservation before resorting to more mountaintop removal.
– Almost half of Americans, 45%, said that they had heard of mountaintop removal unprompted.
– 71% of people said they would be opposed to mountaintop removal on a mountain within 50 miles of their home, and 50% of those surveyed said they would strongly oppose such mining.
– Women were less likely than men to support expanded mountaintop removal.
– Opposition to mountaintop removal was bipartisan among Republicans and Democrats.

The poll was conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation for the Civil Society Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

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