Mountaintop mining update

by Holly Doremus

May 20, 2009

This item is cross-posted by permission from Legal Planet.

In March, I wrote here about EPA’s newfound boldness on mountaintop removal mining. Under current regulations, the Corps of Engineers issues permits for that practice under Clean Water Act section 404, but EPA has the authority to veto those permits. EPA, which was entirely passive on the matter under the Bush administration, had sent objections to the Corps on a couple of permits, and announced that “it would take a close loook” at others.

It is now clear that a close look doesn’t mean blanket opposition. Nick Rahall, Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, has released a letter from EPA indicating that, of 48 permit applications the agency has reviewed, it has approved 42 and objected to only 6. Coal Tattoo (the Charleston Gazette’s blog on all things coal mining) has the story here. NRDC’s view is here.

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Holly Doremus is James H. House and Hiram H. Hurd Professor of Environmental Regulation; Faculty Co-Director, Center for Law, Energy & the Environment; and Director, Environmental Law Program at the University of California, Berkeley.

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