Lawyers representing the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and residents of Coalfield, W. Va., asked the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday to consider limiting mountaintop-removal coal mining. Instead of taking coal from mountains, mountaintop removal take the mountain from the coal by blasting away entire hilltops, which scars landscapes and fills streams with debris. A U.S. district judge ruled two years ago that the technique violates federal environmental laws. But the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision in April, after lawyers for the coal industry and state officials argued that federal courts should not consider disputes over state enforcement of mining rules. Environmental advocates hope that the Supreme Court hears their case and agrees that citizens should be able to use federal courts to force state agencies to comply with national standards.
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