Friday, March 27, 2009
Bill Would Ban Mountaintop Removal (Yay!)
SustainableBusiness.com reports that a Senators Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) have introduced a bill titled the Appalachian Restoration Act that would "effectively ban mountaintop removal mining practices in the U.S.” The act would "prevent the dumping of what is known as ’excess spoil’ from mountaintop mining into streams and rivers.
Mountaintop removal results in the summit of a mountain being removed to allow miners to get at the coal below. The removed rock, dirt and vegetation is most often dumped into the valleys below, creating pollution of waterways and all kinds of environmental degradation. Mining Companies prefer mountaintop removal when possible because it is less expensive than traditional mining.
The senators say a million Appalachia acres have been mined in this manner and that 1,200 miles of headwater streams have been buried under mining waste. Something north of 500 mountains have been mined like this. About 5 percent of the coal mined in the U.S. is mined in this way.
SustainableBusiness.com quoted Cardin as saying, "My goal is to put a stop to one of the most destructive mining practices that has already destroyed some of America's most beautiful and ecologically significant regions. This legislation will put a stop to the smothering of our nation's streams and water systems and will restore the Clean Water Act to its original intent."
Alexander spake thusly: "Coal is an essential part of our energy future, but it is not necessary to destroy our mountaintops in order to have enough coal. Millions of tourists spend tens of millions of dollars in Tennessee every year to enjoy the natural beauty of our mountains--a beauty that, for me, and I believe for most Tennesseans, makes us proud to live here."