Preventing water pollution from mountaintop removal coal mining is focus of new EPA policies

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WASHINGTON, DC, April 1, 2010 -- In a move aimed at reducing mining pollution in Appalachian streams, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a new set of policies to strengthen permit requirements under the Clean Water Act. Most significantly, EPA cited two new studies that conclusively demonstrate that burial of headwater streams by mining waste causes permanent loss of ecosystems, and therefore issued new measures to protect 95 percent of aquatic life and freshwater streams in central Appalachia.

The following is a statement from Rob Perks, campaign director with the Natural Resources Defense Council:

"At long last, the EPA is committing to protecting Appalachian communities from the world's worst coal mining. Today's action to protect waterways from the impacts of mountaintop removal is restoring science to its rightful place and reinforcing the agency's commitment to the Clean Water Act.

"The impacts of mountaintop removal mining on the waterways and communities of Appalachia are profound. Mountaintop mining has polluted or obliterated nearly 2,000 miles of streams throughout Appalachia. For every ton of coal extracted, another 20 - 25 tons of mining waste is disposed of in so-called valley fills. Strict enforcement of scientific requirements in the Clean Water Act is a much-needed step in the right direction."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.3 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

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