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EPA tackles Top-Mining

March 25, 2009

southernfriedsquareReaders who’ve been with us for a while know that one of my biggest terrestrial concerns is top-mining, the removal of entire mountain tops to extract ore from inside. This incredibly destructive practice ruins not only the mountain ecosytem, but the valleys where the spoils get dumped, and anything downstream from the processing.  So I was very pleased when this report rolled into my Google Reader thuis morning: EPA takes aim at mountaintop mining

In what could be a major shift in federal policy, the Environmental Protection Agency declared today it would be taking a much closer look at the harm done to streams by mountaintop mining for coal.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced that her agency had sent letters voicing “considerable concern” about the environmental impacts of two mining projects in West Virginia and Kentucky.  And she declared that EPA would be reviewing other mining permits as well.

“EPA will use the best science and follow the letter of the law in ensuring we are protecting the environment,” she said in the press release.

Could the new administration really change our current topmining practices? I hope so.

~Southern Fried Scientist

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2009 10:34 am

    A government agency sent letters expressing concern? Stop the presses!

    I guess it’s a start, but I’m not holding my breath for this policy to change anytime soon.

  2. March 25, 2009 7:22 pm

    great site! very interesting!
    Bye, Andrea from italy!

  3. March 31, 2009 2:14 am

    I’m really hoping the new administration will mean some more freedom for EPA scientists…*crosses fingers* Lovely blog, by the way. I came upon y’all via Extroverted Scientist’s page.

  4. Zach permalink
    April 20, 2009 6:06 pm

    I really feel like the new administration will give the EPA more freedom as well. Maybe we’ll finally start to hear of some kind of benefits for the environment instead of constant bad news.

  5. Jeff permalink
    April 21, 2009 5:08 pm

    I think it is great that the EPA is actually looking into this practice. I don’t know a lot about it myself, but the idea of taking off whole mountain tops does not seem to be ecologically friendly especially when they dump all of the unwanted materials into the valley’s polluting streams and low valley habitats. I dont like the sounds of it. Oh and I’m willing to bet the new administration isn’t going to do anything for the EPA.

  6. Les permalink
    May 6, 2009 4:11 pm

    A point on terminology: “Top-mining” is easily confused with “top-slicing,” an underground mining method that has nothing to do with “mountain-top mining”. To keep the discussion clear, we need to resist the urge to shorten terms un-necessarily.

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    The Southern Fried Scientist

    Andrew is a graduate student in North Carolina studying deep sea biology. When not in the lab, he spends his time out on the water, usually swearing at his boat while simultaneously sacrificing some important tool to Poseidon in a desperate attempt to make the motor start. That is, assuming he can get his truck running long enough to actually put the boat in the water. He enjoys long walks on the beach, by necessity. Follow him on Twitter @SFriedScientist.


    David is a graduate student in South Carolina studying shark conservation. He is the author of the upcoming book “Why Sharks Matter: Using New Environmentalism to Show The Economic And Ecological Importance of Sharks, The Threats They Face, and How You Can Help”. His time is divided between educating the public about sharks, spending days at a time at sea playing with sharks, and eating horribly unhealthy foods. Follow him on Twitter @WhySharksMatter.

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    Amy is a graduate student in North Carolina studying local ecological knowledge within the blue crab fishery. She spends half her life studying the most charismatic of organisms - humans - and the estuaries on which they depend. While not contemplating grand social theories, she enjoys a good jam session and watching sunsets over the estuary. Follow her on Twitter @bgrassbluecrab.

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