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White House Plans to Allow More Dumping in WV Waterways

August 24, 2007

A White House rule expected today could open up more West Virginia streams to dumping from mountaintop removal coal mines. The plan would change the “buffer zone” rule, which is intended to protect streams from being filled in by waste from mines. Cindy Rank with the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy says there’s already widespread damage from stream fill-ins and the new rule would make things even worse.

"We’re about to have a reversal of what I think is one of the strongest protections for our streams, especially in the coalfields of West Virginia, Kentucky and neighboring Virginia."

The mining industry says mountaintop removal is a cost-effective way to mine for coal. However, Rank believes that this analysis overlooks the added costs in terms of water quality, pollution, and damage to forests. She adds hundreds of miles of streams have already been filled in with waste from mountaintop removal mines, and the rule change opens the door to even more dumping.

"These are the most precious headwater streams that give life to everything downstream. It’s just a devastating blow, I think, to the environment and to the communities."

The proposal is up for a 60-day comment period and a lawsuit from opponents is likely.

Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WV