16 October 2009

W.Va. House members Press EPA on Mountaintop Removal Mining

House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Vice Chairman Nick Rahall, D-3rd, and member Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, used a Thursday hearing on the Clean Water Act to quiz a top Obama administration official "about her agency’s position on mountaintop removal coal mining," Public Broadcasting and others report.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said the "neither EPA nor I personally have any desire to end coal mining, have any hidden agenda or any agenda whatsoever that has to do with coal mining as an industry," the report said. "I believe that coal can be mined safely and cleanly."

The appearance follows what Rahall and Capito call frustration and concern about federal scrutiny of the mining method, as reflected at this week's public hearings in Charleston and Kentucky.

"Jackson said the 79 permits currently under review have been held up for years by litigation and had never been reviewed by the EPA," Public Broadcasting reports. "She said there are some scientific concerns about the large amounts of valley fills that have been allowed since a new stream buffer rule was developed in 2008 under the Bush administration."

Public Broadcasting offers audio, while the committee links to video and hearing details.

The Charleston Gazette has an article, as does The Register-Herald. The Beckley newspaper focuses on Rahall's remarks and also includes comments from state legislators on the topic.

The Charleston Daily Mail includes hearing details while reporting that "U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials are close to making a decision on six of the 23 West Virginia permits" under review.

MetroNews has an item on the hearing, with audio.

The West Virginia Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training reports that as of early August, about 37% of the coal produced in the state in 2009 came from surface mining, of which the mountaintop removal method is a part. The share from all surface mining has averaged 38% so far this decade, and 36% since 1996, the earlier year for agency figures.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Note that Rahall hasn't actually come out and said what the EPA did was wrong. He just wants to ask questions. Play nice.
He's tying to have it both ways.
He obviously feeling the heat from his district.