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Press Release: DOI Releases Tentative Plan to Protect Streams; Citizen Groups Call for More Immediate Action to Protect Appalachian Streams and Communities

Friday, November 20th, 2009

a response from the Alliance for Appalachia:

DOI Releases Tentative Plan to Protect Streams; Citizen Groups Call for More Immediate Action to Protect Appalachian Streams and Communities

Charleston, WV – Members of The Alliance for Appalachia have welcomed the announcement by the Department of Interior that it intends to move forward with more stringent enforcement and oversight of current coal mining operations and a commitment to utilizing the best science to formulate new rules. However, the agency confirmed that it intends to delay proposing a new stream buffer zone rule until 2011. The Stream Buffer Zone was originally intended to protect a 100 foot barrier around mountain streams. This rule was severely undermined by the Bush administration, leaving waterways, and the surrounding communities and wildlife, vulnerable to mining waste.

While supporting the agency’s decision to use sound science in decision making, it was noted that numerous studies conducted during the past decade, including the 2005 Environmental Impact Study compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency, have repeatedly shown that the impacts of mountaintop removal can be catastrophic.

“Sound science already has shown us that we can’t wait for years for a rule while our streams are being buried and lost forever. If the Department of the Interior is following the science, then it should be clear that they need to end the dumping of mountaintop removal waste into Appalachian streams immediately,” said Ann League with the Tennessee group SOCM – Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment.

The Department of the Interior’s announcements were related to the June 2009 Memorandum of Understanding which outlined the steps federal agencies intended to take on the issue of mountaintop removal. Citizen groups have been disappointed at the lack of action from federal agencies. The Alliance for Appalachia, which represents over 13,000 members, is calling for the Department of the Interior and the Obama Administration to take swift action to issue a new rule that would protect the important headwater streams.

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Appalachian Voices  •  Coal River Mountain Watch  •   Heartwood  •  Keeper of the Mountains • Kentuckians for the Commonwealth 

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition  •   Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment • Sierra Club Environmental Justice

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