Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) rallied more than 500 miners outside the Capitol yesterday, complaining that the White House had backed off on its support for a rider that would let strip mining continue on West Virginia mountaintops. A federal judge ruled last month that the controversial “mountaintop removal” mining technique, which uses explosives to take off the tops of peaks and then dumps the resulting rubble in valleys and streams, violates the Clean Water Act and federal mining rules. Byrd responded to the ruling by drafting a rider that would let use of the mining technique continue, and he may join forces with Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), who wants to ease environmental standards on mining in the West by allowing thousands of tons of mining waste to be dumped onto federal and Indian land. Byrd and Craig hope to pass their language as part of the Interior Department spending bill, which is now being hurriedly finished in Congress.