Corps Suspends Expedited Surface Coal Mine Permitting Process in Appalachia
June 25, 2010
In a big win for Sierra Club, its coalfield allies, and Appalachia’s mountains and waterways, on June 17, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced that it was suspending its streamlined permitting process for approving valley fills for surface coal mines in Central Appalachia. Surface coal mines in Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia can no longer obtain authorization under the "one-size-fits-all" Nationwide 21 permit - a Clean Water Act permit designed for projects that have only minimal adverse environmental impacts. The Corps' prior use of the nationwide permit under the Bush administration - based on absurd findings that massive surface mines would cause no environmental harm - made a mockery of the law. As a result, thousands of miles of streams have been buried and destroyed by surface mining debris in Appalachia. Under the suspension, surface coal mining projects that involve valley fills will now be subject to a more rigorous environmental review and individual permitting process under the Clean Water Act. Sierra Club and its allies continue to encourage the Obama administration to end the use of nationwide permits to authorize mining projects anywhere in the United States.
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