Mr. President, I’m asking you to make ending mountaintop removal a top priority in your second term.
Mountaintop removal coal mining remains one of the greatest environmental threats facing our country. More than 500 of the nation’s oldest mountains have already been destroyed and headwaters streams that feed major rivers and the drinking water supply of millions of Americans are polluted and destroyed every day that mountaintop removal is allowed to continue.
When you introduced your science team in Dec. 2008, you committed your administration to making decisions based on science and facts. You told the American people, “it’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient — especially when it’s inconvenient."
Your administration has not yet lived up to your commitment to science-based decision-making when it comes to mountaintop removal.
For instance, the Army Corps of Engineers is not “listening to scientists” when it continues to issue permits for new mountaintop removal mines. In 2010, thirteen of the nation’s top stream biologists wrote in an article published in Science: “Clearly, current attempts to regulate [mountaintop removal mining] practices are inadequate. Mining permits are being issued despite the preponderance of scientific evidence that impacts are pervasive and irreversible and that mitigation cannot compensate for the losses.”
Since you were elected president, more than 20 studies have been published demonstrating the devastating impacts of mountaintop removal on the health and well-being of nearby residents. Your agencies have yet to act on these new scientific findings.
Mr. President, they are still blowing up mountains in Appalachia and citizens are still getting sick, dying prematurely, and living in poverty as a result. We need you to live up to your promise.
There are no more excuses, mountaintop removal should be ended now.
Please end the travesty of mountaintop removal and help bring new hope and prosperity to mining communities by doing these three things in your second term:
1) Stop Mountaintop Removal! Immediately end permitting of new mountaintop removal mines and instruct the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement to issue a strong Stream Protection Rule that does what scientists say is necessary: bans the dumping of mine waste into streams.
2) Support a Just Transition for Mining Communities: Instruct the Appalachian Regional Commission and the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Fund to invest in entrepreneurs, infrastructure, and sustainable development in Appalachia and work with Congress to increase Abandoned Mine Land funds for Appalachian states and ensure the fund won’t expire in 2021.
3) Enforce the Law: The coal industry has routinely ignored the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act, while state agencies that enforce those laws have turned a blind eye. Your agencies must increase oversight of the permitting and enforcement programs in Virginia, Kentucky, and West Virginia to ensure they protect public health and adhere to the law, or else rescind those states’ primacy to administer their own mine and water permitting programs.
The election is behind us, the campaign ads are off television, and the robocalls are no longer interrupting your dinner. Now its time to hold the President accountable to his promise to protect the American people.
The science is incontrovertible: mountaintop removal coal mining sickens and kills, and it's bankrupting one of America's most biologically and culturally rich regions.
Contact the White House now and tell them No More Excuses, End Mountaintop Removal Now!