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The ground rules seem to have been set concerning the sexual assault allegations against nominee Brett Kavenaugh. Also on the Monday rundown: we will take you to a state where more than 60 thousand kids are chronically absent; plus the rural digital divide a two-fold problem for Kentucky.

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Court Cases Confirm EPA’s Right to Limit MTR Pollution

PHOTO: Two federal appeals courts have strengthened the EPA's ability to limit pollution from mountaintop removal mines. Photo by Vivian Stockman, flyover courtesy of SouthWings.org
PHOTO: Two federal appeals courts have strengthened the EPA's ability to limit pollution from mountaintop removal mines. Photo by Vivian Stockman, flyover courtesy of SouthWings.org
April 25, 2013

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Citizen groups say two big legal victories confirm what they've asserted for years - that mountaintop removal causes dangerous pollution levels, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can and should protect the public.

One federal court ruled that the Corps of Engineers has been too lax in issuing mountaintop removal permits, while another ruled that the EPA has the right to veto a Corps permit after it has been issued.

The second decision, which could block a huge mine in West Virginia, is important, said Jon Devine, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council water program, because it strengthens the EPA's right to enforce clean-water laws.

"The court said clearly - and reaffirmed what the law says clearly - that EPA can act," Devine said.

The coal industry argues that the mining practice creates jobs. But some medical researchers estimate it costs more to pay for the damage to human health than the mining pays in terms of economic development.

Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth (D) is sponsor of the Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act (HR 526). His legislation would place a moratorium on all new mountaintop removal mining permits while federal officials examine the health risks.

Yarmuth called the practice "immoral."

"I've seen the orange water, I've talked with the people who live in proximity to mountaintop removal and I know, with my own eyes, what I'v seen."

The court decisions came as a group of independent scientists was calling for a moratorium on mountaintop removal. The Center for Health, Environment and Justice report cited such health effects as higher rates of cancer and birth defects.

Aimee Rist, a mother of two from Fayetteville, said it is deeply troubling to those living close to a mountaintop removal site.

"I don't want to leave my home," she said. "It's beautiful. The people are wonderful. It just makes you question what my children might be breathing, what they might be drinking in their water."

The report on the health effects of mountaintop removal is available at chej.org.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY