Sen. Alexander Sen. Cardin
Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), co-sponsors of The Appalachia Restoration Act, weighed in on the EPA’s announcement Thursday of a new policy to crack down on valley fills associated with mountaintop removal coal mining.
Both Senators expressed the usefulness of the new guidelines, but also stated that only an act of Congress—in the form of The Appalachia Restoration Act—would actually put an end to the practice of mountaintop removal mining.
“The new EPA guidelines are useful in stopping some inappropriate coal mining in Appalachia,” Senator Alexander said in a statement issued Thursday, “but Congress still needs to pass the Cardin-Alexander legislation that would effectively end mountaintop removal mining.”
Senator Cardin, Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, acknowledged the EPA’s use of verifiable science in the recent decision.
“A growing body of scientific evidence demonstrates with alarming clarity that waste from mountaintop removal mining is poisoning adjacent streams in a way we don’t have the knowledge or tools to reverse,” Cardin said in his official statement. “The new studies released today by EPA Administrator Jackson echo the commitment she made during her Senate confirmation hearing that ‘[s]cience must be the backbone of what EPA does.'”
“The guidance for approving mining permits, based on these new scientific studies, will help control the damage caused by mountaintop removal mining,” he continued. “But the science shows us that if we are to truly protect our mountains, streams and the people who depend on them, we must bring the practice of mountaintop removal mining to an end.”
“Coal is an essential part of our energy future,” Alexander said, “but it is not necessary to destroy our mountaintops in order to have enough coal to meet our needs.”
The Appalachia Restoration Act (S. 696) is a bill in the U.S. Senate which would sharply reduce mountaintop removal coal mining by making the practice of valley fills illegal. Valley fills—the dumping of waste from mountaintop removal mining into adjacent valleys and on top of headwater streams—have buried or polluted nearly 2000 miles of streams in Appalachia to date.
Here are links to more information about yesterday’s announcement: