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For Immediate Release, January 13, 2011

Contact: Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681

EPA Vetoes Permit for Largest Mountaintop-removal Mine Ever Proposed in Appalachia

HUNTINGTON, W.V.— The Environmental Protection Agency today denied a crucial Clean Water Act permit for the largest-ever proposed mountaintop-removal coal mine in Appalachia. The agency’s veto of the permit for the controversial Spruce Mine in Logan County, W.V., is the first-ever retroactive denial of a mining permit. The permit had already been approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but the EPA had authority to overrule that decision. Its permit denial means the mine cannot go forward as planned.

“We applaud the EPA for following the law and the science and acting to protect the nation’s wildlife and the citizens of Appalachia from the devastation of mountaintop removal,” said Tierra Curry, Appalachia native and a biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Mountaintop-removal coal mining must end, and today the agency took a historic step in the right direction.”

The proposed coal mine would have destroyed 2,300 acres of forest and buried nearly seven miles of streams. The EPA reviewed more than 50,000 public comments on the proposed mine. Its veto is based on water-pollution impacts, including downstream fish kills. Pollution from mountaintop-removal mining has been found to cause deformities and reproductive failure in downstream wildlife and has been associated with cancer clusters in communities exposed to high levels of coal-mining activity. In some counties in Kentucky and West Virginia, nearly a quarter of the total land area has been permitted for surface coal mining. Coal-field residents have been fighting the Spruce Mine proposal since 1998.

“It is time for surface coal mining in Appalachia to end. Forty years of surface mining have kept the region locked in poverty and devastated the health of people and the environment. The Obama administration must ban mountaintop removal and fund the creation of a green economy in this beautiful region,” said Curry.

Mountaintop-removal coal mining has already destroyed more than 500 mountains, more than 1 million acres of hardwood forest, and more than 2,000 miles of streams in Appalachia.

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