The Bush administration appealed a federal court decision yesterday that would limit mountaintop-removal mining and asked the judge to clarify that the ruling “should be read as not applying nationwide or to activities other than coal mining.” On May 8, U.S. District Judge Charles H. Haden II of West Virginia ruled that coal mining valley fills, such as those produced by mountaintop removal, are not allowed under the federal Clean Water Act, and blocked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from issuing permits for new fills. In its appeal, the Department of Justice said the ruling “casts a tremendous cloud of uncertainty over all future coal mining in Appalachia” and would result in tens of thousands of layoffs in the region. It argued that Haden’s injunction was overly broad, and that he should have stuck to analyzing Corps regulations (rather than the Clean Water Act) in coming to a decision. The coal industry is expected to file a similar appeal shortly.

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