Front Porch Blog

Victory! EPA Vetoes Spruce Mine Permit.

EPA announced today that they will be vetoing the largest mountaintop removal permit in WV history.

Appalachian Voices is thrilled to hear that EPA will be vetoing this permit in order to protect human health and aquatic ecosystems in Central Appalachia. EPA’s own science has shown that mountaintop removal has permanent negative impacts on Appalachia, and we hope they will continue to stand strong in stopping mine permits that will have a negative impact on the well-being of the Central Appalachian land and people.

EPA’s Peter Silva hit the nail on the head:

The proposed Spruce No. 1 Mine would use destructive and unsustainable mining practices that jeopardize the health of Appalachian communities and clean water on which they depend. Coal and coal mining are part of our nation’s energy future, and EPA has worked with companies to design mining operations that adequately protect our nation’s water. We have responsibility under the law to protect water quality and safeguard the people who rely on clean water.

The bottom line is that we don’t need to poison our streams and our communities in order to mine coal in the central Appalachian region. Three cheers to EPA for doing what is right, even though they faced tremendous political pressure to let this harmful and toxic mine just slide by.

Congress can make these protections permanent, while adding stability and clarity to the process by passing popular bipartisan legislation such as the Clean Water Protection Act (House) and Appalachia Restoration Act (Senate). Recently, 50 members of Congress sent a letter to EPA thanking them for doing the right thing by taking steps to end mountaintop removal. Congressman Rahall (D-WV) also said that legislation to end the practice had more than 400 votes in the House, but that he was the only person blocking the bill. Its time that Representatives like Congressman Rahall and Senator Manchin start protecting their constituents and stop wasting their time and political capital defending a destructive, toxic, and unnecessary practice like mountaintop removal. Its time that our elected officials start thinking less about appeasing the coal lobby and more about protecting Appalachian citizens who live in communities where coal is mined.

In one of his last public statements, Senator Robert C. Byrd said:

It is also a reality that the practice of mountaintop removal mining has a diminishing constituency in Washington. It is not a widespread method of mining, with its use confined to only three states. Most members of Congress, like most Americans, oppose the practice, and we may not yet fully understand the effects of mountaintop removal mining on the health of our citizens.

Ken Ward has more at Coal Tattoo and Jeff Biggers has a beautiful piece at HuffPo called EPA Vetoes Largest Mountaintop Removal Permit: New Era of Civility in the Coalfields? .

Congratulations to every single person who helped make this possible.

Update: Robert F Kennedy Jr adds:

“Lisa Jackson is an American hero and the most courageous administrator in EPA history. She has been unyielding in her willingness to stand up to the bullies and polluters at big coal. I want to thank Lisa Jackson, EPA Region 3 Administrators, Appalachian Voices, and every citizen who raised their voice to bring us one step closer to ending mountaintop removal coal mining. Today we have a reason to celebrate, but we still face a difficult road ahead. The environmental and social impacts of the Spruce Mine Permit are not unique. Mountaintop removal coal mining is devastating the Appalachian regions human, environmental and economic health. It is urgent that we support the EPA and continue the fight for clean water in Appalachia.

Update 2: Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones is a fantastic journalist covering energy and environmental topics. Her latest piece on the Spruce Mine includes a quote from Appalachian Voices National Field Coordinator Kate Rooth.

“Regulatory decisions like today’s can be overturned by the next Administration, which is why it is critical now more than ever that Congress follow the bold leadership of the EPA by passing a law to make these protections permanent,” say Kate Rooth, national field coordinator at Appalachian Voices. The group has been lobbying Congress to pass the Clean Water Protection Act, which would make dumping mine waste in streams illegal.




AV Mountain border tan1

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. debbie on January 13, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you JW for hitting the nail on the head regarding our WV representatives,they will save the wild asses and get ribbons for it but turn their backs on us, their constituents when it comes to our health and clean water that is needed for all.
    I hope this is only the first step in many that the EPA will take in protecting the people in the Appalachian coalfields.

  2. Lenny Kohm on January 13, 2011 at 11:22 am

    “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
    Margaret Mead

Leave a Comment