The US Environmental Protection Agency this week called for a halt to select mountaintop removal permits, in order to address their impact on water quality.
Two letters were sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expressing serious concerns about the need to reduce the potential harmful impacts on water quality caused by certain types of strip mining practices, particularly mountaintop removal, where the top of a mountain is blown off, showering rock and debris into valleys and stream.
The letters specifically addressed two new coal mining permits in West Virginia and Kentucky, recommending that the corps deny the West Virginia permit application and that the Kentucky application be revised to ensure the protection of streams.
Permit applications for such projects are required by the Clean Water Act.
EPA’s letters stated that the coal mines would likely cause water quality problems in streams below the mines, would cause significant degradation to streams buried by mining activities, and that proposed steps to offset these impacts are inadequate. EPA has recommended specific actions be taken to further avoid and reduce these harmful impacts and to improve mitigation.
The department also intends to review other requests for mining permits.