Front Porch Blog

Spruce Mine Permit Hearing

Environmentalists and coal supporters met to debate the largest mountaintop removal mining permit to date—the Spruce No. 1 surface mine in Logan County, W.Va.—at a public hearing on May 18 in Charleston, W.Va.

EPA officials accepted comments from the public regarding the permit at what was a subdued and small gathering compared to the large, heated Army Corps of Engineer hearings held last fall.

In March, The EPA announced that it planned to significantly restrict or prohibit mountaintop removal mining at Spruce No. 1.

“Coal, and coal mining, is part of our nation’s energy future, and for that reason EPA has made repeated efforts to foster dialogue and find a responsible path forward. But we must prevent the significant and irreversible damage that comes from mining pollution — and the damage from this project would be irreversible,” said EPA Regional Administrator for the Mid-Atlantic, Shawn Garvin. “This recommendation is consistent with our broader Clean Water Act efforts in Central Appalachia. EPA has a duty under the law to protect water quality and safeguard the people who rely on these waters for drinking, fishing and swimming.”

If permitted, Arch Coal’s Spruce No. 1 mine operation would bury more than seven miles of headwater streams and impact 2,278 acres of forestland.

In a statement showing support for the EPA’s actions on mountaintop removal, Senator Robert Byrd from West Virginia said: “EPA Administrator Jackson reiterated to me that more wide-ranging guidance
is forthcoming in the near future, providing clarity relating to water quality issues and mining permits. I encouraged her to move forward as soon as possible so those seeking approval of permits can fully
understand the parameters for acceptable activity under the Clean Water Act.”

The EPA comment period on Spruce No. 1 was scheduled to end on June 4.

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