The US Environmental Protection Agency announced recently that it is taking the first step to veto an Army Corps of Engineers permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine in West Virginia, the largest mountaintop removal mine ever authorized by the Corps in Appalachia. EPA has ultimate authority to enforce the Clean Water Act through the veto process established by law. The EPA’s action is based on scientific studies that contain evidence that the mine would have severe health impacts on the people, waters and ecosystems of the surrounding area.
The mine would bury more than seven miles of headwater streams, directly impact 2,278 acres of forestland, and degrade water quality in streams adjacent to the mine. EPA’s proposal to veto the mine’s permit under the Clean Water Act comes after extended discussions with the company failed to produce an agreement by the company to significantly decrease the mine’s environmental and health impacts, or fully comply with the law.
It is urgent for EPA to hear public support for its proposed denial of this permit. After years of destroying the environment and poisoning the waters of local communities, the mining company is suing to stop this critical veto and undo any protections, even before EPA has time to finalize its decision. Public comments must be received by Tuesday, June 1, 2010. Please feel free to share this action alert with members of your own organizations and other networks so we can generate a high volume of written support for EPA’s proposal!
How to submit comments
We have prepared a list of suggested talking points (below) that you can use to write your own comments. Personalized comments are the most powerful, and we strongly encourage you to craft your own comments rather than copy our talking points verbatim. If you are a resident of or native to Appalachia, we especially encourage you to share compelling stories about living with this destructive practice in your own backyard. We would love to see your comments so please send a copy of them to Jennifer Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments must be received by Tuesday, June 1, 2010. Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No EPA-R03-OW-2009-095, using one of the following methods:Federal eRulemaking Portal (this is EPA’s recommended method of comment submission): http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Email your comments to: email@example.com. Make sure you include the docket number, EPA-R03-OW-2009-0985, in the subject line of your message.
Suggested Talking Points on EPA’s Proposed Veto of West Virginia’s Spruce No. 1 Mine Permit
(Docket ID No EPA-R03-OW-2009-0985)
I strongly support EPA’s proposed veto of the Spruce No. 1 mine in West Virginia.
If permitted, this mine would obliterate 2,278 acres of wooded mountains in Logan County, West Virginia and fill six Appalachian valleys with over 100 million cubic yards of debris, burying more than seven miles of headwater streams.
Headwater streams are the like the capillaries within our circulatory system and the goal of protecting water quality, habitat and other downstream resources requires their careful protection and the protection of the life they support. Burial of these streams by valley fills causes permanent loss of critical ecosystems, many of which support endemic species.
The Central Appalachian ecoregion where the Spruce No. 1 mine would be located has some of the greatest aquatic animal diversity in North America. This area includes one of the most prominent biodiversity hot spots identified by the Nature Conservancy.
The best available science tells us that proposed mines like the massive Spruce Mine would pollute waterways, destroy mountains and devastate communities.
Recent scientific analysis of published studies and water quality data from West Virginia streams revealed serious environmental impacts from mountaintop mining that mitigation practices cannot adequately address.
The operation of this mine would cause unacceptable adverse impacts to drinking water, native aquatic and water-dependent communities in the Spruce Fork watershed.
Recent published studies directly relate intensity of surface mining activities within Appalachia to degraded public health and morality.
Regulatory controls currently in place have not prevented adverse water quality and aquatic habitat impacts from other surface mining operations.
I strongly urge EPA to follow through with a full veto prohibiting this mine from destroying the targeted mountain area and its waterways. EPA must prevent the significant and irreversible damage that comes from mining pollution; the damage of the Spruce project would be irreversible. Do not succumb to industry and mining companies’ requests to evade clean water laws!
Please give the people of Appalachia the full environmental protection promised and that all of our nation’s communities deserve, by finalizing the Spruce No. 1 veto as a prohibition.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important proposal.