Dear Joe Manchin, Arch Coal Has A Plan, And It Is Not You.
Despite EPA’s willingness to consider alternatives, the company did not offer any new proposed mining configurations in response to EPA’s concerns based on science and the law.
“The permittee also indicated that other approaches previously discussed, such as ‘sequencing’ or ‘phasing’ of valley fills, remained unacceptable to Arch Coal, Inc., due primarily to economic considerations,” EPA said. “In the meeting, the permittee did not propose new or additional corrective actions for EPA’s consideration.”
“This transaction gives us a direct stake in participating in the growth of U.S. coal exports off the West Coast,” said Steven Leer, Arch’s chairman and CEO. “With our superior operating position in the Powder River Basin and Western bituminous region, we have the capability to service growing coal demand in Asia, the world’s largest and fastest-growing coal market. We believe this first project — along with others in the pipeline — will provide Arch with more exposure to the seaborne thermal market and will further unlock the value inherent in our western coal assets.”.
Arch attributed the shortfall to poor rail service affecting shipments of its Appalachian coal as well as “geologic challenges” at its Mountain Laurel mining complex.
1) Appalachian coal production is declining…
2) Productivity is decreasing…
3) Costs are rising…
4) Coal companies are going elsewhere.
Mr. Rahall, who said he was informed of the EPA’s decision early Thursday in a voice-mail message left by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, predicted there would be efforts in Congress to overturn the EPA’s decision.
Congressman Pallone Thursday praised the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to halt proposed disposal of mountaintop mining waste into West Virginia streams, a long-standing practice in the industry that has disrupted the biological integrity of an area about the size of Delaware. Exercising authority under the Clean Water Act, EPA revoked a permit application for Mingo-Logan Coal Company’s Spruce Mine No. 1 located in the south west region of West Virginia.
“I applaud EPA for this landmark decision that will reduce the harmful effects of this practice on the environment and human health,” said Pallone. “Mountaintop removal mining is a dangerous practice that is harmful to our environment and unsafe for those living in nearby communities. Blast material from these types of mines pollutes streams and rivers and contaminates water supplies, often turning local tap water orange and even black.”
If approved, this permit would have buried more than six miles of headwater streams, directly impacted 2,278 acres of forestland, and degraded water quality in streams adjacent to the mine. This veto, an extremely rare action in the history of the Clean Water Act, demonstrates the EPA’s seriousness in curtailing mountaintop removal.
“This permit revocation is a sign of a larger shift from the Bush administration’s mountaintop mining policy, that for too long has fouled water quality, wildlife and human health in Appalachia,” added Pallone.
Congressman Pallone is the lead cosponsor of the Clean Water Protection Act, which would put a stop to the dangerous practice of mountaintop removal mining. The legislation had 172 bipartisan cosponsors in the 111th Congress and Pallone is currently gathering original cosponsors before reintroducing the bill in the new Congress.
Pallone also wrote to EPA in October 2010 supporting the administration’s efforts to curtail mountaintop removal mining under the Clean Water Act. Forty-nine other Members of Congress signed the letter, which also supported EPA’s preliminary veto of the Spruce Mine permit.
“In vetoing the Spruce Mine Permit, EPA did the right thing today for the health of the people and the natural resources of Central Appalachia,” said Senator Cardin. “EPA’s action halts the permanent, large-scale destruction of some of the oldest mountains on earth and the dumping of toxic mining waste into neighboring streams. This veto protects the richest temperate freshwater ecosystem in the world, communities’ health and wellbeing, and a way of life cherished for generations.
“Mountaintop removal mining, which produces less than five percent of the nation’s electricity, has destroyed over 500 mountains, resulted in burying 2,000 miles of mountain streams and polluted drinking water sources with arsenic, selenium and mercury. I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues to bring this devastating practice to a permanent end and ensuring the residents of Central Appalachia have access to the clean and safe water all Americans deserve.”