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Mountaintop removal: Streamlined permits to stop – kinda

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette reports on his Coal Tattoo blog:

mtntop6_i090616210242.jpgTomorrow’s edition of the Federal Register (available here by the magic of the Internet) will include this notice from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, making good on part of the Obama administration’s plans for dealing with mountaintop removal coal mining.

As outlined last month, the Corps is proposing to eliminate the use of its streamlined permit process — in this case Nationwide Permit 21, or NWP 21 — for the approval of surface coal mining in Appalachia.

But the new Federal Register notice includes at least one twist that has critics of the Corps (and of mountaintop removal) a little concerned … I’ll get to that in a minute.

I’ve mentioned before that a federal judge already has told the government to stop using this streamlined permit procedure, at least in Southern West Virginia, where most mountaintop removal mining is taking place. Oddly, the Obama administration, while saying it wants to do away with NWP 21 for this kind of mining, also filed a notice that it would appeal that court decision.


Tomorrow’s notice kicks off a 30-day comment period on the Corps’ proposals.

The notice includes a very straightforward statement from the federal government about the impacts of mountaintop removal that have environmental regulators concerned:

Read the entire article on Coal Tattoo.

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