Using a brutally destructive mining method called “mountaintop removal,” the corporations explode to bits the top third of mountains to get at the coal. Then they cavalierly bulldoze the resulting rubble and toxic coal waste down the mountainsides, filling the valleys, burying streams, poisoning the water supply, and destroying livelihoods.
As mountain after mountain has been wasted, the EPA has stood silent as the Army Corp of Engineers has rubber-stamped Big Coal’s selfish devastation. “The whole permitting process has become toothless,” says one observer.
But she’s not just any ol’ observer. She’s Lisa Jackson, the new head of the EPA, who recently declared, “We’re going to do our jobs.” Two subsequent steps suggest she might.
First, the agency has preliminarily rejected the approval of 79 more mountaintop removal permits.
Second, agency officials are quietly putting together a major new scientific study of the impacts that the explosive process has on streams, water quality, and aquatic life.
A 2005 EPA report has already documented this devastation, but incredibly, the Bush team perverted the findings to allow more devastation! Now, however, it appears that science, nature, and people might at long last be considered and possibly — just possibly — given priority over undiluted industry greed.
To stay informed and help push for environmental sanity go to www.ilovemountains.org.
Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, public speaker and author. Twice elected Texas agriculture commissioner, he is a leading voice of progressive populism.