The Obama administration announced Thursday that it has decided to “regulate” mountaintop removal mining operations, not abolish them. The administration plans to oversee and regulate more tightly, rather than eliminate, the environmentally destructive practice of mountaintop removal coal mining in the six Appalachian states where it is currently used. In mountaintop removal mining, coal companies blast the tops off mountains, fill the valleys below, and bury healthy streams under the rubble.
If the Obama administration truly wanted to “enforce” mountaintop removal regulations and protect American watersheds, drinking water, and communities from catastrophic flooding and toxic blasting, it would simply reverse a 2002 Bush and coal lobby manipulation of the Clean Water Act and restore the original definition of “fill” material to no longer include mining waste.
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