Friday, July 22, 2011

EPA's final guidance on surface mining.

The EPA released their final guidance on Appalachian surface coal mining on Thursday. The guidance is designed to ensure consistency, effectiveness, and review standards of surface mining under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The guidance replaces the interim-final guidance issued by EPA on April 1, 2010. The current version is based on the best-available science and incorporates input from over 60,000 comments from the public.

The final guidance enables the EPA to work with states, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, mining companies, and the public to protect communities form pollutions generated by the surface mining activities. EPA will take a case-by-case approach accounting for the best available sciences and regional specific requirements.

This final guidance incorporated tested science including proven data from the Hobet 45 permit in West Virginia where EPA worked with a company to eliminate close to 50 percent of stream impacts, reducing contaminations, and lowered mining costs. The Coal Mac-Pine Creek permit decision also provided strong evidence for the feasibilities and effectiveness of the since in this final guidance.

The final guidance is not a rule and is not binding legally or in practice.


Mountaintop mining is a form of surface coal mining in which explosives are used to access coal seams, generating large volumes of waste that bury adjacent streams. The resulting waste that then fills valleys and streams can significantly compromise water quality, often causing permanent damage to ecosystems and rendering streams unfit for drinking, fishing, and swimming. It is estimated that almost 2,000 miles of Appalachian headwater streams have been buried by mountaintop coal mining.




NASA used Boone County to show the extensive devastation of land in Appalachian coal fields in their “earth observatory webpage.“

To view a copy of EPA’s Final Conductivity Benchmark Report as well as the Science Advisory Board’s final review, click here.

1 comment:

  1. Surface mining also causes soil erosion that could lead to landslides or mudslides.

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