More than six years ago, then-Senator Barack Obama toured the country asking the public for its vote to send him to the nation’s highest office. On the campaign trail, he said we have to find ways to avoid "simply blowing the tops off mountains."
As president, two of his administration’s most important actions have been to develop a strong body of science that documents the extreme harm mountaintop removal mining causes to waters in Appalachia, and to veto the Clean Water Act permit for one of the largest and most destructive mountaintop removal mines ever proposed, the Spruce No. 1 Mine.
Mining waste makes mountain streams unsafe for aquatic life and threatens the health of entire Appalachian ecosystems. On top of that, research has shown that people living near mountaintop removal sites have disproportionately higher rates of cancer and birth defects.
The coal industry has tried to use the courts and their friends in Congress to block progress on protecting communities and waters from this destruction. But a federal court ruled against the coal industry and affirmed the EPA’s clear authority to protect Appalachian waters.
This victory should spur the Obama administration to more action to protect Appalachian waters and communities. Mountaintop removal mining is still devastating communities, destroying mountains, and harming public health across the region. Communities and families urgently need real protection.
The Obama administration has much more work to do on enforcing the Clean Water Act in this region. We need a strong, binding rulemaking that will finally protect Appalachian families from water pollution and hold coal companies to the 40-year-old Clean Water Act.
And because every mountaintop removal mine permit is a violation of the Clean Water Act, we need to see many more vetoes like the Spruce veto.
Please tell President Obama you will measure the legacy of his presidency by what he does to end mountaintop removal mining.