Obama Administration’s Disappointing Position on MTR

Written by Annie Sartor

Topics: Climate

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First thing this morning I joined journalists and other environmentalists on phone call/press conference. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of the Interior (DOI) and Army Corps of Engineers announced a coordinated effort to “reduce the environmental impacts of mountaintop coal mining.” Read the press release here.

I believe (maybe naively) that these agencies are trying hard to take a strong stance on MTR. But as I listened to the press conference all I could think was “reduce impacts of mtr?” – really? Mountaintop removal coal mining is a practice that is inherently devastating to air, quality, lifestyle, culture and landscape – there is no environmentally friendly way to blow the top off a mountain!!!!

mtr-in-charleston-wv-013-small

We will be closely watching the impacts of the Obama administration’s new MTR policies – it’s too soon to say what those impacts will be (if any.) I hope that this announcement is truly a good faith effort to take a step toward ending MTR mining. I also hope that this step can be quickly and decisively leveraged into a strong ban on the practice altogether.

You can read responses by allies in the fight against MTR here and here, and RAN’s statement on the announcement is pasted below:

June 11, 2009
CONTACT: Nell Greenberg, 510-847-9777

Press Statement on Administration’s New Plan on Mountaintop Removal Mining by Rainforest Action Network
Rainforest Action Network is disappointed about the Administration’s announcement today to reform mountaintop removal mining practices in West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

“The administration is pledging better oversight of mountain top removal mines but providing few specifics about how its oversight will change this destructive practice. This is a step in the right direction at a time when we need leaps.

“Rigorous enforcement of existing laws is of course needed and would be a welcome change, but does not in itself represent the true change that we need to transition immediately away from the destructive practice of mountaintop removal.

“The Administration’s new plan does nothing to address the fact that nearly all mountaintop mining disposes of excess rock and debris in “valley fills” that bury hundreds of miles of streams, contaminate drinking water and wreck ecosystems.

“Why is the Administration allowing massive environmental destruction of historic mountain ranges and essential drinking water for a relatively tiny amount of coal, a fraction of all the coal we use? This just doesn’t pan out in the cost-benefit analysis.

“Mountaintop removal, the world’s worst strip mining, is unacceptable. Period. We don’t believe that MTR can be made “kinder and gentler”. Blowing the tops off of mountain ranges to harvest dirty coal harms the people and places of Appalachia, destroys the economic potential of the Appalachian region for clean energy opportunities and furthers the burning of climate killing coal.

This is not a practice that needs to be reformed. It is a practice that needs to be abolished.”

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Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break America’s oil addiction, protect endangered forests and indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org

5 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Ben Zimmerman says:

    Having strongly supported Barack and campaigned for him during the election, I do realize the difficulties the Bush administration has provided him. I would hope that Barack does strengthen his commitment to the environment, including to fight mountaintop mining. I do cringe when I hear him referring to “clean coal” and must believe that he is naive about the subject. With time I do expect better things from the Obama administration concerning the environment.

  2. Andrea Pennisi says:

    MTR is simply criminal and the Obama’s administration are

    supporting a criminal activity !

  3. Diane MacInnes says:

    There is no such thing as clean fossil fuel, whether it be coal or natural gas. Natural gas extraction using horizontal hydraulic fracturing in deep shale poses serious threats to public health and safety, just as mountain top coal mining does. It is short sighted to contaminate our most precious resource, water, by continuing these outdated “fossilized” approaches. It is time to face the future squarely and change the way we use as well as create energy.

  4. Thank you RAN for keeping everyone updated.

    It’s all about $. When I hear the person I voted for say “clean coal”… my skin crawls.

    How ANYONE could look at the skeletal remains (leftover rock dumps)and NOT be broken-hearted, is beyond my comprehension.

    MTR is total ecological devastation. The coal mining corporations throw a little top-soil down, plant a few trees it’s considered restored. How can we be THAT ignorant? The trees do not even grow! The lush green forest that was so rich in biodiversity, is now a barren grassy wasteland.

    How can it be stopped?

  5. elizabeth ralston says:

    President Obama AND HIS FAMILY need to make a visit to the area-and speak with the people to see what the physical and human damage that is being done to our natural resources for the purpose of human greed.

Trackbacks For This Post

  1. The Understory » Mountaintop Removal Horror Show Moving Forward with over 80 New Permits
  2. Mountaintop Removal Horror Show Moving Forward with over 80 New Permits « It’s Getting Hot In Here

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