Mountaintop removalWill the proposed Spruce Mine site ultimately escape this fate?Hot off the presses: The EPA just announced it is recommending rejecting the massive Spruce Mine in Logan County, W.Va., for the simple reason that it can’t comply with long-standing clean water protections. EPA Region 3 Administrator Shawn Garvin recommended that the permit for Spruce be withdrawn.

In short, this proposed mountaintop removal coal mine would release huge amounts of toxic pollution into the state’s waterways. That has been illegal across the country and today EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is proposing the same protections for Appalachia.

Today’s recommendation flows from President Obama’s and Jackson’s commitment to restore science and uphold our bedrock Clean Water Act. The EPA is proposing to take the radical step to ensure that the residents of Appalachia have the same clean water protections afforded other residents around the country.

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For far too long, Appalachia’s residents have been subjected to pollution from coal mining practices that would be prohibited elsewhere in the United States. There are so many local grassroots heroes who have spent more than a decade fighting this massive mountaintop removal coal mine.

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As we have worked with our members and allies in Appalachia to tell the story nationwide about the incredible destruction associated with mountaintop removal mining, the overwhelming response we hear outside of Appalachia is “How can that be allowed to happen in the United States?”

This decision is long overdue. During the Bush administration, hundreds of mines were approved, dozens of mountains were razed, and pollution killed stream after stream after stream. The Sierra Club and our allies are working to stop this pollution, and recently a federal court ordered a $45 million clean up of an existing mine, but it is far better to not approve these mines in the first place.

The next step is for Jackson to put the final nail in this destructive project and finalize her decision. This decision should then guide the agency to do what the science and public health demands — end the practice of mountaintop removal mining once and for all. We need a uniform rule that says no more mountaintop removal mining, period.

Let’s put this devastating practice behind us. Let’s put residents to work restoring the land and waters damaged by coal mining over the past decades. And let’s overcome the naysayers who oppose Appalachia sharing in the jobs and economic development that comes with building a clean, renewable energy future.

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