Trout Unlimited Applauds Interior Secretary Salazar’s Decision to Reverse Mountaintop Mining Removal Waste Ruling
April 29, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Elizabeth Maclin, Vice President, Eastern Conservation (202) 431-2676
Erin Mooney, National Press Secretary (571) 331-7970
ARLINGTON, VA---Trout Unlimited (TU) applauds Monday’s decision by the Obama administration to reverse a last-minute ruling from the Bush administration that allows waste from mountaintop removal mining to be dumped in or near streams.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said that he wanted a federal judge to give the Office of Surface Mining another opportunity to refine the stream buffer zone rule and suggested that a 1983 regulation be reinstated that would prevent coal companies from working closer than 100 feet away from streams unless they could prove that mining would not adversely affect stream quality or quantity.
“Mountaintop removal mining does violence to real people in real communities in West Virginia and Kentucky,” said Chris Wood, Trout Unlimited’s Chief Operating Officer. “It is an affront to good government, community self-determination and wise stewardship of the land. Bully for Secretary Salazar for standing up for common sense and ethical treatment of local people and the lands and waters that sustain them.”
Mountaintop removal mining has buried or degraded nearly 2,000 miles of Appalachian streams to date as well as caused additional harm to downstream areas by introducing sediment pollution, altering stream hydrology and increasing flooding.
Despite the existence of the 1983 stream buffer zone rule, it has never been adequately enforced. From 1985 to 2005, the Army Corps of Engineers authorized over 7,000 valley fills in central Appalachia for mountaintop removal mining and other strip mining operations. Much of this activity was permitted despite arguments that it violated the stream buffer zone rule.
“We have every confidence that with this decision the Obama administration is sending a notice that the 1983 law will be strictly enforced, and the Appalachians will be protected,” said Elizabeth Maclin, Vice President of Eastern Conservation at Trout Unlimited. “This is another step in the right direction, but ultimately the practice of mountaintop removal mining should be ended.”
Mountaintop removal mining practices create a survival risk for brook trout and other wild trout populations, and impede efforts to restore brook trout in already degraded watersheds. Brook trout, the only trout native to the East, currently live in only a fraction of their original range.
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s largest coldwater conservation organization, with 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.