Four green groups and two state agencies have filed a petition with federal wildlife and mining agencies seeking to change the long-standing policy of exempting mountaintop-removal mining from specific Endangered Species Act reviews. In 1996, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided that mountaintop-removal mining wouldn’t unduly imperil threatened species if mines followed other environmental guidelines outlined in mining laws. However, the green groups disagree, citing research since the 1996 decision showing declines in aquatic species tied to mining. If the 1996 decision is not repealed, the groups have said they’ll sue to overturn it. “We’re giving the agency a chance to try to rectify this,” said Deborah Murray of the Southern Environmental Law Center. “For more than 10 years, the government has written off our most vulnerable wildlife species based on a flimsy policy without scientific or legal merit.”

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