Bush administration eases restrictions on mountaintop-removal mining

The Bush administration has given a big thumbs-up to mountaintop-removal mining, the practice of blasting the peaks off of mountains and dumping the rubble into watersheds and valleys. A proposed rule issued today will exempt mining waste from an inconsistently interpreted 1983 rule that disallows mining activity within 100 feet of streams; considering that hundreds of miles of Appalachian streams have been obliterated by MTR mining in the last 20 years, it was basically a technicality anyway. Once officially free to dump mountaintops wherever the hell they please, coal-mining companies can continue to destroy ecosystems and communities in the name of reducing dependence on foreign oil. A 60-day comment period starts today; while officials have indicated that significant changes are unlikely regardless of public input, tell them what you think anyway. Then check out dispatches sent to Grist from writer Gabriel Pacyniak and photographer Katherine Chandler, who are traveling in West Virginia to report on MTR mining.