« Anthony Foxx: Riding the Rails for Better Transportation | Main | Building Movement Solidarity -- We Stand with Migrants »

May 01, 2013

New Spate of Coal Bills in Congress Threaten Air, Water, and Public Health

Wv mtr siteThis week, Senator Mitch McConnell unveiled legislation that would force the Environmental Protection Agency to speed up its permitting process for new coal mines instead of taking the needed time to review these proposed projects for potential polluting runoff. This is just the latest in a recent spate of legislative moves by King Coal's buddies in Congress that would handcuff the EPA at the expense of clean air, clean water, and our public health.

Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller have introduced another bill to narrow EPA's authority to protect our air and water. Rep. Nick Rahall says he will reintroduce his bill from last session that would overturn key parts of the Clean Water Act, put key decisions in the hands of the states, and prevent federal oversight. And Rep. Capito (who is running for Rockefeller's Senate seat that he will vacate when he retires in 2014) plans to introduce a version of McConnell's bill in the US House.

These bills come as a response to last week's ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on the largest mountaintop-removal coal project ever proposed in the history of West Virginia, the Spruce Mine. The court affirmed that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority under the Clean Water Act to veto mountaintop removal coal mining permits after they've been issued.

For decades the government has allowed the mining industry in Appalachia to operate pretty much as it pleases. Now, when the EPA finally takes some limited, reasonable steps to protect communities and the environment, the coal industry screams and its politicians race to introduce bills to block the EPA.

These are huge overreactions to the Spruce Mine ruling. The EPA has used its veto authority only 13 times in 40 years and used it retroactively only three times. Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette has a great breakdown of the overblown responses by Appalachian legislators, too.

The EPA must protect communities from the destruction of mountaintop-removal coal mining. Study after study shows the health effects of living near a mountaintop-removal coal mine. From cancer, to birth defects, to premature mortality, mountaintop-removal coal mining is destroying public health in Appalachia as it destroys the environment.

Hopefully, these bills will be dead on arrival, and Congress will let the EPA do its job of protecting public health and ensuring we all have clean air and water - rather than bowing to pressure from coal industry lobbyists.

-- Mary Anne Hitt, Beyond Coal Director


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference New Spate of Coal Bills in Congress Threaten Air, Water, and Public Health:

User comments or postings reflect the opinions of the responsible contributor only, and do not reflect the viewpoint of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any posting. The Sierra Club accepts no obligation to review every posting, but reserves the right (but not the obligation) to delete postings that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate.

Up to Top

Find us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Rss Feed

Sierra Club Main | Contact Us | Terms and Conditions of Use | Privacy Policy/Your California Privacy Rights | Website Help

Sierra Club® and "Explore, enjoy and protect the planet"® are registered trademarks of the Sierra Club. © 2013 Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club Seal is a registered copyright, service mark, and trademark of the Sierra Club.