The Executive Director of the Sierra Club wrote an editorial about the mountaintop removal permit recently denied by EPA and the need to stop similar permits currently seeking approval.
Saving Mountains Saves Lives
By MICHAEL BRUNE
Published: January 24, 2011
Quote:The loss of irreplaceable mountains, forests and streams, though, is only part of the story. Massive surface-mining operations like Spruce also contaminate downstream waters with waste products like selenium, and the surface-mining operations fill the mountain air with toxic coal and rock dust. Although our reliance on burning coal for energy adversely affects the health of millions of Americans, nowhere have people suffered more dearly than in Appalachia. For too long, too many Americans — not just coal miners — have paid with their lives for our addiction to coal.
What enabled the EPA to stop the Spruce Mine — and what should stop all future mountaintop removal mining projects — are science and the rule of law. Science has proven that mountaintop-removal mining destroys — irrevocably — a precious natural resource: clean water. The Clean Water Act, which was passed to safeguard the health and safety of the American people, charges the EPA to review mining permits and to deny those that will, as the agency put it, result in "unacceptable adverse impacts."
Fortunately, the EPA exists to enforce the much-needed safeguards that can keep polluters from making us and our children sick. Stopping irresponsible coal mining has another huge benefit for all Americans, though — it moves us closer to a clean-energy economy that creates good jobs and can be the basis for a real, long-term prosperity that doesn't ask ordinary Americans to sacrifice their health to keep the lights on.
We are already hearing howls of protest from those who stand to gain financially by tearing apart Appalachia's mountains to get at the coal inside, as well as from the politicians who leap to their defense.
They say that coal mining creates jobs. They say that clean water, clean air and good health will hurt the economy. The reality, though, is that the coal industry has been cutting jobs and cutting corners in Appalachia for years now. In contrast, clean energy and efficiency investments there could generate almost 80,000 jobs by 2030 and save consumers more than $25 billion in energy costs.