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Yarmuth Applauds EPA, CEQ for Acting to Limit Mountaintop Removal


Action follows conversation between Louisville Lawmaker and CEQ Chair

(Washington, DC) Today, a week after Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) expressed his grave reservations over the practice of mountaintop removal mining to Nancy Sutley, Chair of the President’s Council on Environmental Quality(CEQ), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in coordination with CEQ has announced that it is taking action to rein in the practice.

“I expressed my concerns to Nancy Sutley about the widespread and irreversible damage that mountaintop removal is causing in Kentucky and throughout the region, and I am pleased to see that the Administration is taking action regarding those concerns,” Congressman Yarmuth said.  “Mountaintop removal is not only robbing Kentucky of its natural beauty, it is poisoning our streams and the drinking water for many throughout the Commonwealth.  I applaud the CEQ and EPA for working to mitigate the damage caused by mountaintop removal, and I urge the Army Corps to now do its part to end this destructive practice.”

EPA sent two letters to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expressing serious concerns about the need to reduce the impacts on water quality caused by certain types of coal mining practices, including mountaintop mining.  The action halts the permits for two new surface coal mining operations in West Virginia and Kentucky and could delay or repeal as many as 250 additional permits.

EPA also requested the opportunity to meet with the Corps and the mining companies seeking the new permits to discuss alternatives that would better protect streams, wetlands and rivers.

The Corps is responsible for issuing Clean Water Act permits for proposed surface coal mining operations that impact streams, wetlands, and other waters.  EPA is required by the act to review proposed permits and provide comments to the Corps when necessary to ensure that those permits fully protect water quality.

This marks a sharp departure from the last eight years in which weakened federal regulations led to a glut in mountaintop removal.

Yarmuth is also a lead sponsor on the Clean Water Protection Act, which would redefine "fill material" as any pollutant that replaces portions of waters with dry land, forcing mining operators to find less harmful ways to dispose of the byproducts of mountaintop removal.