By Brian Sewell
A federal judge acknowledged the environmental damage caused by mountaintop removal this September when she ruled to uphold a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency veto of a permit for one of the largest surface mines ever proposed in Appalachia.
Originally proposed in 1997, the Spruce No. 1 mine would have occupied more than 2,250 acres in Logan County, W.Va., and buried more than six miles of headwater streams with mining waste. Citing the irreversible nature of this damage, the EPA vetoed the site’s Clean Water Act permit in 2011. The decision comes after the Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge by Arch Coal of the EPA’s authority to veto mountaintop removal permits.