After the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, Americans saw a dramatic decline in the pollution of our waterways. But that progress has been eroded. Policies adopted following Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 undermined the Clean Water Act by creating uncertainty about which waterways were covered. Since then, the EPA has failed to prosecute hundreds of polluters who benefit from the confusion, and countless streams, ponds and wetlands are currently threatened, potentially affecting the drinking water of more than 117 million Americans.
Environmental activists in Appalachia have long suspected that water samples from mountaintop removal mines are sometimes tampered with, but now someone has been caught at it. IMO, this kind of thing is a natural consequence of letting the extractive industry buy politicians…or lab techs or anybody else.
I hope this case strengthens the campaign in Tennessee and other states to keep regulatory authority for coal mining (primacy) with the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, and not the states.
“A Raleigh County man pleaded guilty Thursday to repeatedly faking compliant water quality standards for coal companies, in a case that raises questions about the self-reporting system state and federal regulators use as a central tool to judge if the mining industry is following pollution limits.”
BP took another hit today for its March, 2006 crude oil spill — 5,054 barrels — on Alaska’s North Slope. Here’s a quote from EPA’s press release:
“This penalty should serve as a wake-up call to all pipeline operators that they will be held accountable for the safety of their operations and their compliance with the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the pipeline safety laws,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “Companies like BP Alaska must understand that they can no longer afford to ignore, neglect or postpone the proper monitoring and maintenance of their pipelines. This agreement will help prevent future environmental disasters and protect the fragile ecosystem of Alaska’s North Slope.”
This press release from Appalachian Voices includes reactions from coalfield citizens and environmental groups about EPA’s decision today to refer 79 mountaintop removal SMCRA permits for extended review.
Also see my blog at http://tennesseehawk.typepad.com/earthbytes/
The U.S. Clean Water Act 404 mountain-top mining permits, which have been in limbo since June, are about to have their fates decided by EPA within the next few weeks.
Author: Dorothy Kosich
Posted: Friday , 04 Sep 2009
RENO, NV –
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Thursday said her agency is now reviewing 84 mountaintop mining permits approved by the Army of Corps of Engineers to determine if they hold up under the Federal Clean Water Act or will have to be ultimately vetoed.
In an interview with National Public Radio, Jackson said the decisions will have to be made within the next few weeks.