EP 62 / EPA Priorities

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Discusses 2010 EPA Priorities

On March 8, 2010, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson spoke to the National Press Club on progress made by the agency in 2009 and priorities for 2010. She discussed actions on climate change, America’s waters and EPA’s efforts to expand the conversation on environmentalism.

She was asked why the EPA doesn’t stop surface mining (mountaintop removal) and she basically said because the EPA regulates pollution and water quality; the EPA does not and cannot regulate mining.  That is a political excuse. They are the Environmental Protection Agency — it’s their job to protect the environment.  Mountaintop removal is one of the most environmentally destructive practices in the U.S. and they must have the authority to stop it. Apparently, this is the EPA’s way of stalling a decision on mountaintop removal.  Surface coal mining is especially destructive, not just to our water but to the trees, the ecology of the area, and to the land itself.  There is no way to put the top back on a hill or mountain once it has been removed, and no way to completely reinstate the wildlife and balance of the ecology of the area once it has been ruined.

Unfortunately today, in conjunction with this talk, the EPA approved a surface mining operation in Ohio.  They imposed supposed stringent rules on the mining operation so that it doesn’t pollute the water, but nowhere are there requirements of a carbon fee or any way for this mining to take responsibility for how it adds to global warming. This is where the EPA has to change.  The EPA’s responsibilities should include protecting the human race’s ability to live in its environment–which would necessarily render coal mining obsolete.   Read about the EPA’s new permit below. To see the video of this talk, visit CSPAN.org.

Below  is the press release released by the EPA today in its approval of the Ohio surface mining permit.  This is a blow to the environment, and it’s hard to see how this is the EPA “protecting” the country’s land and water.

Listen or download here.

EPA Approves Ohio Surface Coal Mine

EPA review and coordination with company results in less environmental impacts

CHICAGO (March 8, 2010) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded its review of a Clean Water Act permit application for Oxford Mining Company’s proposed Kaiser Mathias mine in Tuscarawas County, Ohio and has approved the project. After extensive coordination with the coal operator, EPA is requiring significant improvements to the surface coal mining project to reduce anticipated environmental and water quality impacts and repair environmental damages caused by previous mining in the watershed. There are no valley fills associated with this mine.

The project changes identified by EPA will result in an overall ecological improvement to the Stone Creek and Oldtown Creek watersheds through the reduction of sediment loads to downstream waters, replacement of lost wetlands and stream functions, the restoration of areas previously mined and long-term site protection.

Improvements to the project will require the company to:
• Reduce stream impacts by more than 80 percent from 12,930 linear feet to 2,352 linear feet.
• Reduce wetland impacts from 3.39 acres to less than one acre.
• Restore the entire 531 acre mining site to repair environmental and water quality impacts from previous mining activities at the site.
• Conduct enhanced biological and water quality monitoring to protect streams and establish conservation easements to permanently protect undisturbed streams.
• Reduce erosion from previously mined areas into streams by an estimated 115.66 tons a year.
• Require stream and wetlands mitigation to replace lost ecological function.

The Kaiser-Mathias mine is a “remining” project that will recover coal at a location mined prior to the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. Clean Water Act approval for new mining at the site provides an opportunity to require that previous environmental and water quality damages within the watershed are repaired. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to issue a final Clean Water Act permit for the Kaiser Mathias mine shortly.

The Kaiser Mathias mine was evaluated by EPA as part of the EPA/Army Corps Clean Water Act “Enhanced Coordination Procedures” for review of Appalachian surface coal mining projects.
The details of EPA’s revisions to the permit are described here: http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/guidance/pdf/Kaiser_Mathias_030510.pdf

See more here in a related article.