- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
EPA's letters, sent to the Corps office in Huntington, W.Va., stated that the coal mines would likely cause water quality problems in streams below the mines, would cause significant degradation to streams buried by mining activities, and that proposed steps to offset these impacts are inadequate. The EPA recommended specific actions be taken to further avoid and reduce these impacts and to improve mitigation.
"The two letters reflect EPA's considerable concern regarding the environmental impact these projects would have on fragile habitats and streams," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. "I have directed the agency to review other mining permit requests. EPA will use the best science and follow the letter of the law in ensuring we are protecting our environment."
The letters were sent to the Corps by EPA senior officials in the agency's Atlanta and Philadelphia offices. Permit applications for such projects are required by the Clean Water Act.
The EPA also requested the opportunity to meet with the Corps and the mining companies seeking the new permits to discuss alternatives that would better protect streams, wetlands and rivers.
According to an agency press release, because of active litigation in the 4th Circuit challenging the issuance of Corps permits for coal mining, the Corps has been issuing far fewer permits in West Virginia since the litigation began in 2007. As a result, there is a significant backlog of permits under review by the Corps.